Maimonides’, whose full name is Moses ben Maimos, (also known as Rambam or Rabbi Moshe) major contribution to life, was his code of Jewish law called the Mishneh Torah (1). His goal was to provide a complete statement of the oral law so that a person who mastered the written Torah first, then only needed to study his Mishneh Torah to gain a full understanding so that there would be no need for any other book for them to study(1). His code of law has caused much controversy even until today and is sometimes considered an alternative view for Jewish people. He was born in Cordova Spain in the year of 1138 and died in the year of 1204 (3).
When Maimonides was born, his hometown of Cordova was under Muslim rule and stood as one of the great intellectual centers of the world (3). But ten years later in 1148 things in Cordova changed drastically. A group called the Almohads invaded and offered all non-Muslims the choice of either converting their religion to Muslim, exit the town or get killed (3). The vast majority of the Jews along with the Maimonides’ family decided to leave their possessions behind and head somewhere elsewhere. They then became wandering Jews looking for a place to live. Eventually they made their way to Egypt, the Holy Land (2). Unlike most other Muslim countries, the Jews in Egypt were granted complete religious and civil freedom under the tolerant and enlightened rule of the Fatimide caliphs. They were allowed to develop their religious, cultural and communal life without any restrictions or interference. It was here where Maimonides was to create his masterpiece for which Jewish people are forever indebted to him (2).
A few months after their arrival in Fostad Egypt, Rabbi Maimon, (the father of Maimonides) passed away. Maimonides was greatly saddened by the loss of his father who to him not only was a father, but an inspirational leader and very important influence in his life. Rabbi Maimon wrote a commentary on the Talmud that Maimonides mentions and uses as a source in the preparation of his own work (2). Maimonides had a younger brother named David who was also gifted and had talents of his own. After the passing of their father David took upon the responsibility of providing financial support for the entire family. This allowed Maimonides to devote all of his time to his religious studies while David took care of the family’s well being. David did a very good job in doing so by becoming a jewel merchant who imported gems and precious stones from India (2). David and all of the Maimonides family lived comfortably because of his well-doing. But, unfortunately more devastation hit the Maimonides family. On one of David’s business trips to India, the ship that he was on got caught in a storm that shipwrecked him and his entire family’s fortune. He along with all of his jewels sank to the bottom of the Indian Ocean (2). This caused Maimonides to start a new chapter in his life.
After all the tragedy that hit the Maimonides family, Maimonides was forced to start providing for the family that he had remaining. But as a result of his nonstop intensive study and the grief over his brother’s death, he became seriously ill. After being bedridden for several months his family’s fortune started to decline. Maimonides never thought it was proper to receive monetary benefits from his vast Torah knowledge. He believed the Torah should be studied and taught only for the sake of Heaven and not for earning a living (2). When he finally recovered from his illness he decided he should begin to practice the study of medicine to provide for his family. Maimonides was a very bright and smart man who picked up and learned things very quickly. Once he began to study medicine he became so successful and gained such a good reputation that high authorities such as Grand Vizier Alfadhil, and eventually Sultan Saladin wanted him as their personal physicians. At the height of...
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