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December 13: Maimonides

Lawrence Bush
December 13, 2009
MaimonidesMoses Maimonides (the Rambam) died on this day in 1204, at age 69. A rabbi and physician in the royal court of Egypt, he brought Judaism into contact with science and Aristotelian philosophy and greatly fortified the intellectual integrity of Jewish philosophy. His voluminous Mishneh Torah remains today an authoritative codification of Talmudic law. Maimonides defined “eight degrees of tsedoke” (sharing wealth to create justice), with the highest degree being investment and partnership with the person in need. “Anticipate charity by preventing poverty,” he said. The Medical Oath of Maimonides “May the love for my art actuate me at all time; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children. “May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain. “Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of human beings can extend indefintely to enrich itself daily with new requirements. “Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today. Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.”

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.