Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and communal leader, known by the acronym “Rambam” or “Maimonides,” was born in Cordoba, Spain, on the 14th of Nissan of the year 4895 (1135 C.E.1).
One of the most important figures in the history of Torah scholarship, his father Maimon, a direct descendant of King David, was a judge in the city’s rabbinical court. His mother passed away immediately after his birth.
Tragedy befell him when his father, wife and two sons died within a span of two years, starting in 1166. Several years later, in 1171, his brother David drowned when his ship sunk en route to India.
Without the support of his brother, he began practicing medicine and struggled to support himself and his brother’s family.
In his mid-20s, he began authoring numerous volumes on the Mishnah, which he completed around ten years later.
He then wrote a volume in Arabic called Sefer Hamitzvot, listing all of the 613 commandments. These volumes were later translated into Hebrew numerous times, once still in his lifetime.
Maimonides’ magnum opus is his codification of Jewish law, which he called Mishneh Torah, or “second to the Torah.” The 14 volume work is a logical systematic codification of Jewish law and also incorporates the basics of Jewish thought and belief.
In his mid-50s, Maimonides was appointed as a personal physician to Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. His new appointment and duties gave him financial stability and more – albeit still very limited – time to devote to his writing.
Maimonides passed away on the 20th of Tevet of the year 4965 (1204 C.E.) and was buried in the city of Tiberias in the Holy Land.
On his gravestone were inscribed the words, “From Moses to Moses, none arose as Moses.”
In the spring of 1984, the Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested that everyone study daily a portion of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah.