For a long time, Professor Halkin and I have felt the need to present a more accurate and broader understanding of Maimonides, and thus to correct the widespread misconception that Maimonides was only a brilliant theoretician of Judaism. That he certainly was, but he was also a man of action who offered practical assistance and guidance to his own Jewish community and to Jewish communities in other lands. This other aspect of Maimonides is presented through this new English edition of his three epistles to communities in crisis.
The translation of the epistles, and the accompanying historical introductions and notes, are the work of Professor Halkin. The philosophical and theological analyses of the epistles and the general introduction to the book were written by myself.
Given the long and difficult period of preparation of the book, my appreciation is unbounded for the support of my wife, Bobbie, and our children and for the critical contributions of the students and research fellows at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Two of the latter deserve special mention. Elliott Yagod, my philosophical associate of many years, worked untiringly to help me clarify the ideas in these essays. Malcolm Lowe, known in his own right as a scholar of Greek philosophy and the New Testament, subsequently recast the essays and helped to give them their final form. We all also owe much to Ruth Sherer, who patiently typed and retyped the successive drafts but refused to let us get away with even the slightest obscurities of expression. I should also like to thank all those who read the essays and