Rabbi Mosheh ben Maimon was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the most prolific and followed Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. He was born in Córdoba, (present-day Spain) on Passover Eve, 1135, and died in Egypt on 20th Tevet, December 12, 1204. He was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt.
He was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, his copious work a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law.
Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah is considered by traditionalist Jews even today as one of the chief authoritative codifications of Jewish law and ethics. It is exceptional for its logical construction, concise and clear expression and extraordinary learning, so that it became a standard against which other later codifications were often measured
In his commentary on the Mishnah, Maimonides formulates his “13 principles of faith”. They summarized what he viewed as the required beliefs of Judaism:
1.The existence of God
2.God’s unity and indivisibility into elements
3.God’s spirituality and incorporeality
5.God alone should be the object of worship
6.Revelation through God’s prophets
7.The preeminence of Moses among the prophets
8.The Torah that we have today is the one dictated to Moses by God
9.The Torah given by Moses will not be replaced and that nothing may be added or removed from it
10.God’s awareness of human actions
11.Reward of good and punishment of evil
12.The coming of the Jewish Messiah
13.The resurrection of the dead
One of the most widely referred to sections of the Mishneh Torah is the section dealing with Charity (Tzedakah). In Laws about Giving to Poor People, Maimonides lists his famous Eight Levels of Giving (where the first level is most preferable, and the eighth the least)
1.Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
2.Giving tzedakah anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy, wise, and can perform acts of tzedakah with your money in a most impeccable fashion.
3.Giving tzedakah anonymously to a known recipient.
4.Giving tzedakah publicly to an unknown recipient.
5.Giving tzedakah before being asked.
6.Giving adequately after being asked.
7.Giving willingly, but inadequately.
8.Giving “in sadness” (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation). Other translations say “Giving unwillingly.”