Crisis and Leadership: Epistles of Maimonides

By Moses Maimonides; Abraham S. Halkin | Go to book overview

DISCUSSION OF THE ESSAY ON RESURRECTION

Throughout his life, Maimonides devoted himself singlemindedly to raising the level of the community's appreciation and understanding of Judaism. He sought to make the intricate legal discussions of the Talmud accessible to the majority of the community by writing the Mishneh Torah, a comprehensive codification of the entire corpus of Jewish law. In the Guide of the Perplexed, he sought to bridge the alleged gap between the cognitive framework of Judaism and the truths of the science and philosophy of his day. The religious impulse that informed Maimonides' writings was the yearning to transform worship motivated by self-interest into worship motivated by passionate love of God.1 He drew attention to the wisdom of God manifest in nature in order to cultivate a yearning to know God independently of human needs and wants and to develop a religious personality whose every thought and action would be dominated by the quest to know and love God.2

How strange and painful it must have been for this great teacher of Israel, whose Mishneh Torah and Guide of the Perplexed are landmarks in the cultural-religious history of the Jewish people, to feel compelled to defend himself against the accusation that he did not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. There is bitter irony in the fact that this God-intoxicated philosopher, whose writings had deliberately neutralized the importance of the miraculous, wrote a final work in support of the doctrine of miracles.

The Essay on Resurrection is prima facie a tragic document, in which

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Crisis and Leadership: Epistles of Maimonides
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Epistle on Martyrdom 13
  • Discussion of the Epistle on Martyrdom 46
  • The Epistle to Yemen 91
  • Discussion of the Epistle to Yemen 150
  • The Essay on Resurrection 209
  • Discussion of the Essay on Resurrection 246
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