Sephardic Tid-Bits: Maimonides Continued

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Sephardic Tid-Bits

Maimonides Continued…


Maimonides and his family arrived at Fustat, Egypt in 1168 after many years of wandering to avoid Arab oppression. All during his travels he studied and wrote. After he settled in Egypt he undertook his major work: The fourteen volume Mishneh Torah that details all Jewish observance required by our laws. He began his work in 1170 and finished it ten years later in 1180. How was he and his family to live while working on this mammoth project?


What little money Maimonides had, he turned over to his younger brother David ben Maimon who was a merchant. David knew great wealth awaited him in the east so he boarded a ship destined to India. Maimonides was almost finished with his “magnum opus” when an accident occurred at sea and David drowned and all of his funds went down in the sea with him. As a result Maimonides had a nervous breakdown that lasted almost a year.


The following letter from Maimonides was found in the Cairo Geniza:


“The greatest misfortune that has befallen me during my entire life---worse than anything else---was the demise of the saint, may his memory be blessed, who drowned in the Indian sea, carrying much money belonging to me, him and to others, and left me with his little daughter and his widow. On the day that 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 was almost given up. About eight years have passed, but I am still mourning and unable to accept consolation. And how shall I console myself? He grew up on my knees, he was my brother, and he was my student.”


To be continued…….