(December 17, 2018 / JNS) An exhibit showcasing original manuscripts and writings of one of Judaism’s most revered rabbis is opening at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Maimonides, otherwise known as the Rambam or Moshe Ben Maimon, is one of the most universally celebrated Torah scholars in Jewish history, as well as a physician, philosopher and astronomer.
His life and work will be honored at the Israel Museum from Dec. 11, 2018 to April 27, 2019, in coordination with Israel’s National Library. Items in the “Maimonides: A Legacy in Script” exhibit include several of his manuscripts and an example of his original signature, with which he authorized the edited version of his seminal commentary on the core Jewish holy texts, known as the Mishneh Torah.
Moshe Ben Maimon was born in Cordoba, Spain, in 1138, but his family fled to Morocco during the monarchy’s forced conversion of Jews. He wrote some of his most important works there before settling in Egypt.
He became the Chief Rabbi of Cairo and a renowned physician before he passed away in 1204. Tradition states that his remains were brought to Israel and buried in Tiberias, as per his request. His tomb stands there to this day.
“Maimonides was a great scholar, doctor, researcher and leader, and this exhibition will allow the public to see his most important manuscripts in Israel for the first time,” said Professor Ido Bruno, the director of the Israel Museum, in an interview with Ynet.
Maimonides “continues to influence Jewish and Israeli thought and practice today,” said David Blumberg, chairman of the board at the National Library. “Maimonides continues to be relevant in almost every Jewish field, due to his amazing achievements and thought in philosophy, theology, medicine, science, Talmud, halachic issues and even politics.”
Manuscripts heralding from the 12th to 15th centuries harken from Germany, Yemen, Spain, Egypt and other countries. Additional items include amulets with his portrait and documents containing descriptions of his 800th-birthday celebration in Spain and Egypt. The British Library, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Vatican Apostolic Library, the French National Library in Paris and the Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries all provided items for the exhibit.
Each item was brought to Israel under heavy secrecy, with major security measures in place to ensure the safety of the items.
The effort to bring the exhibit to the public was initiated by the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation.
A National Library convention centering around the Rambam will feature an opening lecture by Retired Israeli Supreme Court justice Aharon Barak, who will discuss the relationship between current Israeli legislation and ancient Hebrew law.