Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Events from History and their Seeming Irrelevance to Today It is believed that on this day in the year 1135 the great Jewish Intellectual Maimonides [Moses Ben Maimon] was born in Cordova, Spain. 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. Philosophically, Maimonides was a religious rationalist. His damning attacks on people who held ideas he regarded as primitive-those, for example, who understood literally such biblical expressions as “the finger of God” so infuriated his opponents that they proscribed parts of his code and all of The Guide to the Perplexed. Even today, he remains among the greatest rational thinkers and philosophers in history. Nearly 900 years later, the highest rated show on television is American Idol.
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