Thursday, April 03, 2008

Legacy of Maimonides on Tradition Website

A review of The Legacy of Maimonides in Tradition Online (link):

New Books on Rambam

Mar 19, 2008 -- The Legacy of Maimonides: Religion, Reason, and Community, ed. Yamin Levy and Shalom Carmy, Yashar Books, 2006. 307 pages.

Maimonides after 800 Years: Essays on Maimonides and His Influence, ed. Jay M. Harris, Harvard University Press, 2007. 343 pages.

"Yet another book on Maimonides?" So exclaims Jay Harris in the introduction to his new book. Yet nonetheless, these two collections, published in honor of the 800th anniversary of Rambam's death, offer extremely enjoyable readings in the thought of Rambam.

Click here to read moreThe first work, sponsored by the Maimonides Heritage Center, includes 14 essays, 8 of which are translations or reproductions of previously published articles. The opening essay by Prof. Isadore Twersky details Rambam's unique image within Jewish historical consciousness, comparing laudatory statements about him with those about other great sages, and then continues to delineate Twersky's understanding of how and why Rambam achieved such a unique status. It's a great article, and note as well the dedication: "Dedicated to the memory of my teacher and father-in-law, the ga'on R. Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, zz"l - the Maimonides of our generation."

Other pieces include Rabbi Lamm's article on Ahavat Hashem and Arthur Hyman's introduction to interpreting Rambam. Roslyn Weiss and Hayyim Angel contribute stimulating articles regarding the role of Rambam in parshanut. This is a useful collection which both scholars and laymen will enjoy.

The second work, drawing from a 2004 conference sponsored by Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, includes 16 new essays by leading Maimonidean scholars. Moshe Halbertal's fantastic essay analyzes the ambiguous goals and accomplishments of Mishneh Torah - did Rambam really intend to replace earlier literature of Torah She-Be'al Peh? Carlos Fraenkel submits a basic summary of his dissertation, nuancing Samuel Ibn Tibbon's relationship to Maimonides and his philosophy. Bernard Septimus and Haym Soloveitchik contribute important analyses of literary elements of Mishneh Torah, with Septimus focusing on Sefer Ha-Madda and Soloveitchik examining Hilchot Shabbat.

This is a very important collection which scholars will continue to consult for new ideas and trends in Maimonidean scholarship.

- Shlomo Brody

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