“If one did not know that Maimonides was the name of a man, Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, one would assume it was the name of a university. The writings and achievements of this twelfth-century Jewish sage seem to cover an impossibly large number of activities. Maimonides was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna; served as physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his “spare time,” served as leader of Cairo’s Jewish community.”
- Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy.
Maimonides uses the words “angel”, “miracle”, “God” and “providence” … but he utterly disagrees with the traditional, perhaps Orthodox, definition of those terms.
Maimonides seems to hold that supernatural miracles do not exist.
More on Maimonides views of miracles here: Jewish views of miracles.
Maimonides seems to ultimately be against animal sacrifices, even though he listed laws about them in his Mishneh Torah (12th century Code of Jewish law)
What did Maimonides actually teach about the resurrection of the dead?
What is Maimonides’ definition of “God”, and how does it compare to other Jewish definitions of God?
What is Maimonides’ definition of divine providence, and how does it compare to other Jewish definitions of divine providence?
What is Maimonides’ definition of “revelation”, and how does it compare to other Jewish definitions of revelation?
Maimonides is well known for not mentioning his sources when he wrote his Mishneh Torah. According to him what sources should we rely on?
How to read Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed
Maimonides made a distinction between true beliefs, and necessary beliefs:
His philosophy relates to Aristotle, and the contemporary neo-Aristotelian literature discussed by that era’s Jewish, Muslim and Christian scholars.
Maimonides’ “Guide for the Perplexed” is a work of philosophy, incorporating Neoplatonic metaphysical ideas, neo-Aristotelian philosophy, and much Arab Islamic philosophy. Without knowledge of these topics, it is impossible for a reader to understand this book. What we need is an expert teacher: presented here are the first ten chapters of Alexander’s commentary to Maimonides’s Guide.
In “The Punishment of Amalek in Jewish Tradition: Coping with the Moral Problem”, Professor Avi Sagi deals with the extensive Jewish literature on this subject, focusing on the view of Maimonides.
Join our Facebook group, Coffeehouse Torah Talk. We’re an egalitarian Jewish community that loves Torah Lishma – תורה לשמה. Talk Torah, Mishnah, Midrash, etc. without politics or fundamentalism.
“Maimonidean Controversy”, in “Maimonides”, Volume 11 of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing.
Joseph A. Buijs “The Philosophical Character of Maimonides’ Guide – A Critique of Strauss’ Interpretation”, Judaism Vol. 27, pp.448-457, and in the collection ed. by Buijs.
“The Return of Maimonideanism” Warren Zev Harvey. Jewish Social Studies Summer/Fall 1980 Vol.XLII, No.3-4
Arthur Hyman “Interpreting Maimonides”, in the collection ed. by Buijs
Alfred Ivry “Providence, Divine Omniscience and Possibility: The Case of Maimonides” found in (1) “Divine Omniscience and Omnipotence in Medieval Philosophy” Ed. T. Rudavsky, 1985, D. Reidel Publishing Company, and (2) in Buijs’s volume (above.)
“The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology, Volume I”, “Maimonides’ Principles” Aryeh Kaplan 1994, Jointly published by Mesorah Publications and NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth.)
Hannah Kasher “Biblical Miracles and the Universality of Natural Laws: Maimonides’ Three Methods of Harmonization” The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy Vol.8, pp.25-52, 1998
Menachem Kellner “Maimonides’ Allegiances to Science and Judaism” The Torah U-Madda Journal, Volume 7, 1997, Yeshiva University, pp.88-104
Menachem Kellner “Maimonides on the Science of the Mishneh Torah: Provisional or Permanent?” AJS Review (Association for Jewish Studies Review), Vol. 18(2), 1993, pp.169-194
Menachem Kellner “Reading Rambam: Approaches to the Interpretation of Maimonides”, Jewish History, Vol.5(2) Fall 1991
Menachem Kellner “Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought”, Oxford University Press, 1986
Menachem Kellner “Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People”, SUNY Press, 1991
Roy Pinchot “The Deeper Conflict Between Maimonides and Ramban over the Sacrifices” Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought, Vol.33(3), 1999
“The Guide of the Perplexed” 2 volume set, translated by Shlomo Pines, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1956 (numerous reprints)
“Samuel Ibn Tibbon and the Esoteric Character of the Guide of the Perplexed”, Aviezer Ravitzky. AJS Review (Association for Jewish Studies Review) Vol.6, 1981, p.87-123]
Marc B. Shapiro “Maimonides Thirteen Principles: The Last Word in Jewish Theology?” The Torah U-Maddah Journal, Vol.4, 1993, Yeshiva University].
“How to Begin to Study the Guide of the Perplexed” Leo Strauss, contained in volume 1 of Shlomo Pine’s translation of the Guide
“The Literary Character of the Guide for the Perplexed” Leo Strauss. This essay has been printed in a number of volumes, including Buijs’s volume (above) and as a chapter in Strauss’s own “Persecution in the Art of Writing”.
== Books to borrow from the New York Public Library ==
“Maimonides’ Political Thought: Studies in Ethics, Law, and the Human Ideal” Howard Kreisel
“Maimonides: A Collection of Critical Essays” Ed. Joseph A. Buijs, Univ. of Notre Dame Press
“Moses Maimonides: The Man and His Works” Herbert A. Davidson, Oxford University Press 2004 ISBN: 019517321X
“On Maimonides” Charles H. Manekin, Wadsworth Publishing; 2002, ISBN: 0534583830
“Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors” Leo Strauss, Eve Adler, State University of New York Press (April 1, 1995) ISBN: 0791419762
“Jew and Philosopher: The Return to Maimonides in the Jewish Thought of Leo Strauss” Kenneth Hart Green, State University of New York Press, 1993 ISBN: 0791415651
“Maimonides and the Hermeneutics of Concealment: Deciphering Scripture and Midrash in the Guide of the Perplexed” James Arthur Diamond, State University of New York Press, 2002 ISBN 0791452484
“The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides” Ed. Kenneth Seeskin, Cambridge University Press (May 31, 2005) ISBN: 0521525780
“Maimonides and Philosophy: Papers Presented at the Sixth Jerusalem Philosophical Encounter”, May 1985, Jerusalem Philosophical Encounter 1985, Shlomo Pines, Yirmiyahu Yovel (Editor) Kluwer Academic Publishers 1987 ISBN: 9024734398
“Commemorating the Eight Hundredth Anniversary of Maimonides’ Death” Guest Editor: Menachem Kellner, Jewish History, 2004, vol. 18, no. 2-3, pp. 125-128. See all articles in this issue.
== Misc. Judaica articles to photocopy ==
Magid, Shaul “Is Egalitarianism Heresy? Rethinking Gender on the Margins of Judaism” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues – Number 8, Fall 5765/2004, pp. 189-229
Books that I already borrowed from the library
Lenn E. Goodman “Rambam: Readings in the Philosophy of Moses Maimonides”, Gee Bee Tee, 1985 – Useful
Ben Zion Bokser “The Legacy of Maimonides” Hebrew Publishing Company, NY, 1950 – Popular text. Not very useful.
Ilil Arbel “Maimonides: A Spiritual Biography” The Crossroad Publishing Company, NY, 2001 – Popular biography.
“Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas” David B. Burrell, University of Notre Dame Press; Reprint edition (February 1, 1987) ISBN: 0268012261. Not what I was looking for. Very technical.
“Maimonides: The Guide of the Perplexed” Abridged with Introduction and Commentary by Julius Guttman, Translated from Arabic by Chaim Rabin
“Homo Mysticus” Jose Faur – Not what I was looking for. Very technical.