Sephardic Tid-Bits: Maimonides

Sephardic Tid-Bits

I have many Sephardic heroes. They include Hasdai ibn Shaprut and Shmuel Ha-Nagid whose stories have been told in earlier Tid-Bits. I now want to tell you about two more of my heroes. They are Maimonides born in 1135 in Cordova, Spain and Nachmanides born in 1194 in Gerona, Spain 59 years apart. Let me begin this Tid-Bit about Maimonides.

First, Maimonides real name is RABBI MOSHE BEN MAIMON, but by custom of the Jews it was shortened to RAMBAM. It is an acronym created as follows:



“Maimonides” is the Greek version of his name.

He was born in Cordova, Spain on Passover eve 1135. From about the year 1000 the Jews of Spain lived in a Golden Age called “Convivencia” when Jews, Moslems and Christians of Spain lived together, worked together, educated one another, and shared their poetry, literature and science knowledge. It was a wonderful period in which Jews could live. It was ruled by the Moslems. That was the life Maimonides lived until unfortunately it came to an end in Cordova in 1148 when the extremist ALMOHADS took it over from the peaceful Moslem ALMORAVIDS. Once the Almohads took over life in Cordova for the Jews and Christians deteriorated. Jews and Christians were forced to convert to Islam and become a Moslem. Even Maimonides had to convert in order to escape the Almohads. (Of course it was under duress and was not effective.) He and his family wandered about Spain looking for hospitable places to live but found none. They continued on to Fez, Morocco in Africa, and then a trip to the Holy Land where he attended Yeshiva and prayed in the Synagogue attached to it which today still stands and is named after Maimonides. He is known to have prayed on the Temple Mount where  1100 years earlier stood our Holy Temple where was then standing the Dome of The Rock a Moslem Mosque. (Under current Israeli law Jews are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount. They are of course allowed to pray at its foundation wall.) After traveling more than ten years he and his family arrived in Fustat, Egypt in 1168. This story is to be continued.