Beit RaMBam

 


Tishri 5778


 

Why Maimonides?


Man is free and this free will, used as such, can by its own forces do good unselflishly.

R. Moshe ben Maimon

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon משה בן מימון , , who passed into world history as Maimonides, and to whom Jewish tradition refers to according to the acronym from the initials of his Hebrew name, Rambam, רמב"ם , was an Andalusian and universal Jew, born in 1135 C.E.

Maimónides

Multiple episodes of intolerance forced him at a very young age to take the bitter path of exile; that is why he lived in many cities until he settled permanently in Fustat —currently El Cairo—, where he was appointed court physician to the Grand Vizier and the royal family, while he was acting at the same time as a Rabbi and leader of the Egyptian Jewish congregation. In addition to all this, Rambam was a philosopher, theologian, and poet; and due to his knowledge of virtually all the areas of wisdom of his time, he left a vast written work covering all the disciplines he dominated.

Among his legacy, More Nebujim (Guide of the Perplexed) should be mentioned. It contains the core of his philosophical ideas, which had a significant influence on his contemporaries, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike. The same has occurred with his main work, Mishneh Torah (Second Law), which continues to be valid to this day and is still a reference for scholars, so many years after it was written.

Moshe Ben Maimon, Mishneh Torah

When the time came for our kehilah to choose a name, we decided to pay tribute to the memory of Rambam. We did not lack reasons. Because we share with the medieval Jewish sage the same city of origin, though in his time it was called Qurtuba of Al Andalus and currently, Cordoba, Andalusia.

Gravestone of Moshe Ben Maimon, GalileeTo say it in few words, in the thoughts of Rambam, faith and reason come together, and we hope that such a wise premise will inspire and guide our congregation on its journey. Because we are fully convinced that the inscription which can be read in the gravestone where Maimonides lies, in Tiberias —even though he died in Egypt in 1024—, does total justice to him: :

      From Moses to Moses,
there was nobody like Moses.

And because memory is a fundamental identity sign of the Jewish people, which defines and identifies us especially to the point of being essentially a common homeland for all members of our people, and is what inspires our present dreams to project ourselves towards the future.

In the case of Beit Rambam, the Jewish Congregation of Andalusia, all that is also a vocation and a mitzvah.

We are convinced that only by integrating the past experience of the people of Israel —with its ups and downs— and learning from the wisdom handed down by our wise ancestors, such as Rambam, we can build a luminous future for the coming generations and, closer in time, for our own children.

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