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Explain the contribution of Maimonides to the
development and expression of Judaism
Maimonides contribution to Judaism is seen through his teachings and
writings, which were a response to the current events during the time
that Maimonides lived.
Maimonides grew up during the Islamic conquest of Spain, where he
was born. The Muslims gave Jew’s residing there 3 options; conversion,
exile and death. If a Jew chose exile they would be posed with the
problem of how to practice their faith away from other adherents,
because prayer within a community is one of the essential elements of
Judaism. Also in that society the average person was uneducated,
meaning that many Jew’s were unsure of how to interpret the teachings
within the Torah. In response to these pressing issues and also to raise
awareness of the Jewish faith to officials with other beliefs Maimonides
composed four books, which are currently studied by orthodox, reform
and liberal Jew’s alike. The table below summarises the contents of
some of his books and how they have changed the way in which Judaism
is expressed.
Contribution to Judaism
Book of
Provides the 613 Mitzvot in a catergorised list and
commandments includes the criteria used to evaluate if each
commandment should or should not be included.
This book excludes the ramblings of the Torah and
provide the commandments of God in a simple
easy to read text for Jew and non-Jew alike
Mishneh Torah Contains a comprehensive code for Jew’s to live by.
It also contains details on Jewish rituals, civil laws
and discusses the Messiah. This book is a simple
guideline for the average Jew
Guide for the
A guide to the Jewish faith, with an attempt to
combine Aristotelian philosophy with Jewish
theology. It also describes the Jewish faith without
the dichotomies of the sacred and the secular
linking it to the wider community.
13 Principles of A simple summary of the main aspects of Judaism
that enables exiled Jew’s to practice their faith
until such point as they are able to join a Jewish
community. It also summarises the Jewish faith for
a non-Jew.
Maimonides teachings also influenced the development and expression
of Judaism as they provided the faith with a framework of values by
which to live by. Maimonides teachings include those on free will, God
and charity. These teachings also allowed the average Jew to make
sense of the Torah’s teachings and gave them their morals.