The aphorisms of Mishnah Aboth have for nearly two thousand years offered guidance in the path of ethical conduct. In 1168, Maimonides' publication of "The Commentary to the Mishnah" gained him world renown as an expositor of Jewish law. His discussion and analysis of Mishnah Aboth represented an application of the forms of Aristotelian ethics to the teachings of the sages. Dr. Arthur David's translation is the only edition of Maimonides' commentary to Mishnah Aboth in English. In his Introduction Dr. David advances the idea that Maimonides' systematic approach to Jewish ethics was not a mere academic exercise; rather, in his personal affair and his public life as a communal leader of Egyptian Jewry, Maimonides implemented the ethical principles embodied in Mishnah Aboth. He assiduously cultivated the moral and intellectual virtues with a specific goal in mind, the attainment of the ultimate form of human perfection -The Man of God. The message is clear: Man is morally obligated to strive to become the ideal character type, namely, the saintly scholar who personally engages in the affairs of the community. The general reader, as well as the student, will find Dr. David's notes helpful in the explanation of various passages, in the citation of sources, and in the discussion of aspects of Maimonides' career as they relate to the text.
by Moses Maimonides
Translated by Arthur David