oshe ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides, or the Rambam, (the acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), was born in Cordoba, Spain in the year 1135. When Muslim rulers came to power in 1148, and began forcing Jews to convert, Moshe ben Maimon and his family fled Spain, and moved first to Morroco, then Israel, and finally Egypt. The Rambam was a doctor, and among his patients was none other than the Sultan of Egypt. In his writings the Rambam describes his long exhausting days, in which he had to divide his time between seeing patients, attending to the Sultan, being consulted in his role as leader of the Jewish community of Egypt, and of course, writing. The Rambam's most well known work is the 14 volume Mishna Torah, (literally, The Repetition of the Torah).
The Mishna Torah is an invaluable source for our work at The Temple Institute, as it deals extensively with laws concerning the service at the Holy Temple, as well as the physical structure of the Holy Temple, and the specific dimensions and qualifications for the vessels used in the Holy Temple.
In the section of the Mishna Torah known as The Book of the Temple Service, in the chapter entitled, Laws of the Chosen House, the Rambam discusses the commandment of "revering the Holy Temple," based on the verse from Leviticus 19:30: "... and my Holy Temple you shall revere." The Rambam explains how one expresses reverence for the Holy Temple by visiting the site of the Holy Temple, even during the time of its destruction , when it is no longer physically standing. The Rambam himself had the opportunity to visit the Temple Mount, site of the Holy Temple, once in his life. He descibes his experience in a letter he wrote, which we show below.
The Rambam made this historic visit to the Temple Mount on the sixth day of the month of Mar Cheshvan. A new tradition has begun in recent years of commemorating the Rambam's visit, by emulating him, and showing reverence for the Holy Temple by going up to the Temple Mount. This year a large group of Jews participated. Click to see pictures.
The Rambam died in the year 1204, and was buried in the city of Tiberius. When he died, the Jews of Egypt observed three days of mourning, and, quoting from I Samuel 4:11, declared, "The ark of the L-rd has been taken." His grave is a site of pilgrimage to this day. The 800th anniversary of his death was recently commemorated. The Rambam is held in such universal high regard by the Jewish people, that the following phrase is often quoted: "From Moses (of the Torah) to Moses (Maimonides) there was none like Moses."