Nine hundred years ago, the Jewish community of Spain was in an upheaval. For centuries, the Jews had lived in peace under benevolent Muslim rule. But now an invasion of a fanatic Muslim tribe from North Africa threatened to destroy everything. The Rambam, whose Torah and wisdom would forever illuminate the world, lived, studied and wrote during this violent period. Forced to flee Spain as a young boy, the Rambam wandered from place to place for many years, finding temporary refuge in Morocco, and in Eretz Yisrael before settling in Egypt. Yet despite his travails, the Rambam produced a body of Torah writings that simply staggers the mind in its scope, profundity and brilliance. The first fruit of the Rambam's genius was the Pirush Hamishnayos, his vast and penetrating commentary on the Mishneh. This was followed by the Mishnei Torah, his monumental code of law. In his later years, he wrote the Moreh Nevuchim, a systematic exposition of Jewish thought. And during all this time, he also wrote many letters and responsa which played a crucial role in helping Jewish communities from Morocco to Yemen survive the terrible persecutions of that dreadful time. "The Rambam" avoids unsubstantiated folk tales. It relies heavily on his own writings and solid historical sources in creating a portrait of a man whose moral and legal authority anchored the Jewish world of his own time and for all future generations.
by Yaakov Dovid Shulman