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Moses Maimonides

Philosopher / Physician / Religious Figure

Born: 30 March 1138
Died: 13 December 1204
Birthplace: Cordoba, Spain
Best known as: Medieval Jewish philosopher who wrote "Guide of the Perplexed"

Name at birth: Moshe ben Maimon

Moses Maimonides is regarded by many as the greatest Jewish philosopher ever. As a doctor, rabbi, religious scholar, mathematician, astronomer, and commentator on the art of medicine, his influence has spanned centuries and cultures. He was born in Spain and educated by his father, a Jewish judge. Eventually settling in Cairo, he became court physician to two viziers of Egypt, Saladin and el Fadil, and chief rabbi of the city's Jewish community. His Guide of the Perplexed (1190) used philosophical reasoning to argue that the Bible and Jewish faith did not conflict with Artistotle's popular system of thought. Today, Maimonides' "Thirteen Principles of Faith" are still recited in synagogues. His works continue to be studied by Jewish scholars, including Commentary on the Mishnah (1168), nicknamed "The Luminary," and Mishneh Torah (1180), 14 volumes of biblical and rabbinic law, coded and compiled.

Extra credit: His nickname, Rambam, is an acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon... Scholars disagree on his birth year. Recent research points to 1138, not the more frequently cited 1135... He was multilingual and wrote most of his works in Arabic... Hospitals in such cities as Brooklyn, N.Y., San Francisco and Montreal bear his name... His tomb in the Galilean city of Tiberias has attracted tourists for centuries...

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