This was a medieval prominent Jewish philosopher of the medieval time. He is regarded as the greatest scholar of the Jewish religion during the middle ages. Moses Maimonides is reported to have been born in Spain sometime between the year 1137 and 1138. He passed on in the year 1204 on 20th
December in Egypt. Moses worked both in Morocco and Egypt as a rabbi, philosopher and physician. In his time Maimonides supported the philosophical traditions of the philosopher who had died before him. He helped in developing the philosophies of Aristotle which had been long forgotten by the generation of that time (Hartman and Pines 4).The Aristotelian philosophies which he revived influenced the men of his day in a controversial way. Some of his famous readers were Albert the Great as well as Thomas Aquinas. His philosophy was based on the doctrine that it was impossible for human intellect to arrive at truths which can contradict Gods truth. His theology was strictly apophatic therefore in his religion the negative statements were the only ones that he used to describe God. For example in his theology God will not be described as one bur rather, "God is not multiple". During his time his works was continually criticized though there are some people who still considered him as a great philosopher of the Jewish religion. Some of his most read works include the Mishneh Torah (Weiss 116).Maimonides Biography
Maimonides is believed to have been born at the end of the Jewish cultural golden age. This period was immediately after the Moorish's rule first century. He developed a great interest in philosophy and sciences besides Muslim religion. He also studied the philosophical works of the early philosophers which at the moment present in Arabic language. Maimonides did not support works like poetry because to him they were mere people's innovations and had no truth in them. He was respected by many because of saintly personality and writings. His life was basically not a quiet one since he liked to travel a lot and most of his works were written during these long journeys. Maimonides was taught Torah through the Maimon of his father who was a student of Joseph ibi Migash a Jewish Rabbi. Maimonides enrolled at the University of Al-Karaouine in Morocco and it's from here that he composed the Mishnah commentary between 1166 and 1168.Maimonides travelled a lot and during his stay in Israel he would go to pray at the Temple Mount. In his writings he explained that the day he visited the temple for prayers was holy to his descendants and himself. He also played a major part in assisting the Jewish refuges in Egypt to return back to their homeland. He achieved this by distributing letters among the Jewish people who lived in the Lower Egypt asking them to contribute money in order for them to get the required amount needed for their fellow Jewish to be rescued. Through these efforts the people who were held captive by the Palestinian were eventually realized. One of the saddest thing that happened to him during his lifetime was the sudden death of his younger brother David who drowned in the ocean on his way to India. The grieve was so much for him and that is why in his writings there are statements like...On the day I received that terrible news I fell ill and remained in bed for about a year, suffering from a sore boil, fever, and depression, and almost given up. About eight years have passed, but I am still mourning and unable to accept consolation
(Hartman and Pines 28).After the family lost so much wealth which drowned with David Maimonides decided to seek for employment as a physician. Through this profession his fame spread too many places and he was employed by the royal family as their personal physician. Through this career he wrote many works on diseases descriptions. Some of the diseases that he described include diabetes, asthma, pneumonia and hepatitis. Since Maimonides had Greek as well as Persian medicine knowledge he used humorism principles of Galen, though not blindly. He achieved this through experience and observation. Some scholars indicate that in his medical writings he did not venture into new ideas instead he focused on interpreting other people works in order for it to be accepted. One of the things he is remembered of today is the interpersonal relationship with his patients as well his respect for them. This is clearly seen in his writings for instance he explains that....I will find the antechambers filled with gentles and Jews, I would go to heal them, and write prescriptions for their illness, until the evening...and I would be extremely weak
Maimonides death is surrounded by controversies this why there is a tradition which claims that his remains are still in Egypt because when he passed on, he was buried after a short time in Egypt though they excavated his bones and later buried him in Galilee. After his death Maimonides son succeeded him at an early age of eighteen. His son defended his work during his time against any criticism. The office that Maimonides held was passed to his family for the next successive four generations. They handed over the office after the 14th
century (Hartman and Pines 188).Maimonides Influence
Maimonides influence was great during the Jewish philosophy of his time and several generations that followed. The scholars who can after him either accepted or rejected his philosophies. A few moderate scholars accepted his Aristotelian works though they rejected the aspects which they believed was contrary to their beliefs. The peak of selective acceptance and rejection of his works was achieved between the fourteenth and fifteenth century. One of his works that was greatly criticized was the one termed Adonai
or in other words the 'light of the lord'. Those who backed this concept later demolished his Aristotelian views as well as the religious matters that were associated to it. The Crescas's critique also did away with Aristotelian basic medieval science. For this reason the scholars who immediately came after their actions chose to defend the works of Maimonides in order to prevent much havoc. Maimonides also greatly influenced the theologian church. The church kept making references of him on most of their works. One of Aquinas works where Maimonides has been mentioned is the sentences commentary (Weiss 114).Summary of the Thirteen Principles of Faith
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One of the parts considered most important is the principles of faith found in the Mishneh commentary. The thirteen principles of faith summarize the Judaism beliefs in regard to God existence, unity, eternity, spirituality as well in corporeality. Some of the other principles state that the object of worship should be God alone and revelation should only be done through Gods appointed prophets. This principle gives Moses preeminence among all the other prophets and it also talks about the law of God that was given at Mount Sinai. This principle regards Torah as the immutable law of God as well as the fore knowledge of God on the human action. The other concepts touched in the principles are reward for the good done as well as retribution for the evils that one might have committed. Finally, the principles talks about the returning of the Jewish messiah as well as the resurrection of the death. Because of the controversies of these principles serious criticisms were evoked by Crescas and Albo. Despite of the ongoing criticism the Jewish people chose to ignore them until the following century. Due to the reaction of the Jewish community of that time these principles are still strictly followed by the today's Jewish community. For example one religion which has clanged to these laws is the Orthodox Judaism. Two poems that are based on the thirteen principles were incorporated in the prayer book of the Jewish people (Fox 338).The Guide of the Perplexed
This was a classical work done by Maimonides which was influenced by the Aristotle teachings and called for more rational approach to Judaism. These ideas sought to make reconciliation between philosophy, science and religion. These works were originally written in Arabic and later translated to Hebrew. The book has three divisions: in all the three books the author tries to bring out a greater understanding of philosophy and reconciling it with religion (Fox 337).In this commentary Maimonides wrote a deep and wide scope of the code of the Jewish law. This work comprises the binding laws of Judaism and its position during the medieval period. Despite the fact that there was much opposition to the commentary at the moment Nishneh is considered an important fore-runner of the Jewish code which was created by Maimonides. The opposition came as a result of the brevity of Maimonides work after refraining from putting more reference to his work. Secondly people criticized his work because of the introduction which he wrote. In the introduction scholars got to know his plans of wanting to quit the studies of Talmud. Through this he would have arrived at a Jewish conclusion though he later acknowledges after much criticism that, that was not what he wanted to do. Some of his tough opponents included rabbis from southern France as well as Abraham ben David. He mentioned these critics in his commentary of the Mishneh Torah (Fox 337).Scholars of Judaism and history in China have proved that Maimonides works resembles those of the earlier scholar named Kaifeng. One of the sections of the Torah which is greatly applied is the one that talks about charity or in Jewish language Tzedakah
. In this section Maimonides gave eight forms of giving to those that are less fortunate. A few examples of the levels of giving include; offering an interest free loan to the poor, giving to a person whom you don't know, giving when not asked, giving willingly from your inadequacy and adequately giving after being requested. One of the interesting types of giving is the one done with much sorrow maybe after seeing the desperation of the other person.Negative Theology and Prophecy
The principle he applied in his philosophies was based upon the fact that their can never be contradiction between God's revealed truth with the truths found by men by using their intellect. One of Aristotle's works rejected by him was that which explained that God only cared for humanity only but not individuals. He applied negative theology in almost all his works, for instance he would comfortable say "God is not ignorant" instead of saying "God is wise". For instance this statement was meant to mean that God has some knowledge properties in a few ways. Therefore his theology based on describing what God was not as opposed to what he was. In the section of prophecy Maimonides agreed that man's intellect is from God, therefore he had to study and meditate before reaching the perfect state that was required for one to be considered a prophet. He also describes evil as absence of God or God in reduced form. Maimonides did not support the supposition of fate which says that it's dependent on constellations because he believed that if that was the mere truth then life had no purpose (Shapiro 6).Resurrection, Afterlife and Immortality
Maimonides draws the difference between beliefs which are true which to him was that intellectual perfection is from God and necessary beliefs which were only necessary for improved social order. Maimonides explains that the soul gives man the knowledge of God thus making him spiritual by nature. In his works he explains that the knowledge of god in man makes him immune to sin and death. For these reason some Jews believed that they were immortal being to some extend though they also believed in the coming messianic era which entails the resurrection of the dead.Maimonides made much contribution to the history of his time as well as that of the Jewish people. His philosophies though greatly criticized by the scholars of his time and those who came after him, they have greatly contributed to the later innovations. His works still lives on among his fellow Jews and it's bound to continue for many years. For this reason many considers him as great Jewish rabbi, physician and philosopher.