Mishneh Torah

(1170–1180)

The Spanish-born Jewish philosopher Moses ben Maimon, usually called Maimonides, is best known for composing two texts: The Guide for the Perplexed, a philosophical work, and the Mishneh Torah, also known as the Maimonidean Code. The fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah established Maimonides as the leading rabbinic authority of his generation and, many believe, of all time. Maimonides aimed to compose a work from which the entire Oral Law governing Jewish life might be studied systematically. He hoped that his Mishneh Torah would provide Jews with a text that could reinvigorate religious study in a time of cultural decline and religious apathy. Maimonides composed this work between 1170 and 1180. The title Mishneh Torah, which means “repetition and summary of the Torah,” indicates its intent. The subtitle Sefer Yad ha-Chazaka (“Book of the Strong Hand”) is a play on the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word “hand,” which comes out to 14—the number of volumes in the Mishneh...

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Maimonides (Library of Congress)

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