Sor 1 Judaism

Topics: Judaism, Halakha, Talmud Pages: 30 (8865 words) Published: July 14, 2013
Religious Tradition Depth Study – Judaism

Significant People and Ideas

1. The contribution to Judaism of ONE significant person or school of thought, other than Abraham or Moses, drawn from: * Moses Maimonides

Explain the contribution to the development and expression of Judaism of ONE significant person OR school of thought, other than Abraham or Moses, drawn from: * Moses Maimonides

* Social and cultural background and influences:
* Maimonides (aka Moshe ben Maimon or RaMBaM) was a religious rationalist (e.g. he rejected the literal interpretation of the Bible), philosopher and chief Rabbi of Egypt (appointed in 1178 at 42 y/o). His writings enriched Medieval Judaism by giving it a new philosophical language. * During his time Judaism faced two major threats:

1. Islam dominated Judaism; Jews were considered second-class citizens 2. The revival of classical learning and Greek philosophy which threatened Monotheism

Maimonides was a renowned Talmudist, his major contributions to Jewish law were his writings; of particular importance/significance are his three major books:

* The Mishnah Torah:
* A legal work: a code of Jewish law with the widest-possible scope and depth gathering all the binding laws from the Talmud. ( a summary of the Talmud) * Composed of 14 books written in easy to read and understand Hebrew * It does not include debate, discussion, minority opinion etc as found in Talmud. * Many Jews felt it would lead to people no longer studying Talmud. * Provided and accessible reference to the code to determine right paths of behavior in any given situation * It was recognized as a monumental contribution to the systemized writing of Halakha. Throughout the centuries, it has been widely studied and its halakhic decisions have weighed heavily in later rulings. * Summary of contents:

* 1st book: Book of knowledge contains laws concerning belief in God, idolatry, repentance and the study of the Torah. * Remaining 13 books: Details of Jewish civil laws such as blessings, circumcision, holy days, dietary laws, ethics. * Messiah (in the conclusion): Maimonides dealt with the coming of the Messiah and envisioned it as a time of peace and prosperity when Jews would not have to worry about wars and oppression but were free to study Torah

* Commentary on the Mishnah ( Sefer Na Maor):
* Within this Commentary Maimonides formulated the 13 principles of faith which is recognised as a creed for Judaism. * It explained the meaning of each Mishnah in a simple, systematic and ordered way. * Provides a history of/ link between leaning Torah and putting into practice * Written in Arabic the vernacular (language) of the masses and was therefore easily accessible to Jews living in Muslim areas. * Focused directly on the final halakhic (referring to a ‘way of life’) decision within Rabbinic discourse * Clear and concise; simplified for a wider audience making it more accessible * These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism by various Rabbis such as Rabbi Abraham ben David, and were effectively ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries. However, these principles became widely held; today, Orthodox Judaism holds these beliefs to be obligatory. Two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal) eventually became canonized in the "siddur" (Jewish prayer book).

* The Guide to the Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim):
* Radically new in his time as he attempted to resolve genuine philosophical concerns over some apparent contradiction in Jewish understanding. * RaMBaM harmonized and differentiated Aristotle's philosophy and Jewish theology * Written in Judeo-Arabic

* Ideas such as the spiritual nature of God – he rejected the anthropomorphic God– i.e. Giving God human qualities e.g. “the finger of God” – a metaphor * Maimonides argued in the...
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