Maimonides was an influential Jewish philosopher and a doctor. He was instrumental in in providing commentary on the Mishnah or Mishnah Torah. He spent his life reconciling religious knowledge with secular knowledge.
Maimonides most famous writing is called the Guide of the Perplexed. He was also a well-respected doctor who preferred to inscribe specific diets to his patients instead of drugs.
Maimonides was born as Moses ben Maimon sometime around 1138 C.E. in Cordova, Spain. His father Maimon studied as a young man with Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash and who was a student of Isaac Alfasi. He grew up in a family of well-known scholars. His younger brother David was a merchant by trade and supported the family for many years.
In 1148 C.E. the Berber Dynasty of the Almohads invaded Cordoba. After conquering Cordoba, the Almohads demanded that all non-Muslims convert, be executed or be exiled. Maimonides and his family fled Cordoba.
For the next ten years the family traveled from city to city in present-day Southern Spain. Maimonides would eventually land in Fez, Morocco in 1166 C.E. where he worked on his commentary on the Mishnah from 1166 to 1168 C.E. From here he traveled with his two sons to Cairo, Egypt.
After landing in Cairo, Maimonides was informed of a family tragedy. The tragedy involved his father and brother David. David was a merchant that supported the family during their early years.
When Maimonides learned of the death of his father and brother he became full of sorrow. He also knew he needed to support the family now.
While Maimonides was living in Cordoba and Morocco he studied medicine. When he learned of his family’s tragedy, he began to practice medicine as well as continue his teachings of the Jewish faith. Maimonides became a very competent doctor and soon was appointed the court physician of Saladin.
In 1171 C.E. Maimonides earned the position of being the spiritual leader called Nagid in the Jewish community. During this part of his life Maimonides was extremely busy throughout the day and night.
His days were spent treating royalty at the court of Saladin and his evenings were filled treating common people. He also continued to write extensively on Jewish law, medicine, and philosophy.
In 1204 C.E. Maimonides passed away leaving a legacy of accomplishments in many different areas of study.
Maimonides was a very cable doctor and writer. Throughout his life he wrote on medical issues that ranged from asthma to pneumonia to diabetes and the importance of respecting patients and any type of cultural differences.
His preferred method of prescription was related to diet and drugs. Maimonides strongly felt moderation was needed for a person’s health.
During his lifetime Maimonides was crucial in Jewish teaching of the Torah and Talmud. He took ten years to complete his commentary on the Mishnah. In his commentary he outlined 13 creeds that all Jewish people should respect and install in their lives.
The commentary he wrote was quite controversial in the Jewish community. His writing was the first time a person delineated the tenets of faith. In short he tried to rationalize Jewish laws and explain that none of the laws were created for people to follow of obey.
Perhaps his greatest legacy is his book entitled The Guide of the Perplexed. In his writing he intertwined the thought process of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle and Judaism. He believed the two disciplines supported each other. The book would later be instrumental in influencing Christian Aristotelian followers including Thomas Aquinas.
Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash
Cordoba, Spain and Fez, Morocco
The Guide to the Perplexed
Asthma, diabetes, and pneumonia