1135 - 1204 (20 Tevet 4965) MOSES BEN MAIMON (Maimonides) (Cordova, Spain)
Fled from Spain at the age of thirteen after the capture of Cordova by the Al Mohadan fanatics. He became court physician to Saladin of Egypt. He is famed for his "radical" philosophical work on the unity of reason and faith, Guide for the Perplexed, which was heavily criticized in the Jewish world (especially by Franco-German rabbis). Most of the debate, led by Meir ben Todros Abulafia, concerned rational philosophy and its place within faith and belief in God. The anti-Maimonides school, led by Solomon Montpellier and Jonah Gerunda, insisted that all miracles and aggadic interpretations must be taken literally and that any explanation was heresy. They were also concerned that it would be easier to persuade people to give up beliefs based on rational arguments. Maimonides' greatest work was his Mishna Torah, a guide to Jewish traditions and practices ( see 1180), and is referred to simply as the Rambam (his acronym). He was a prodigious correspondent, answering questions from all over the world. His letter to Yemen, Igeret Teiman, written in Arabic, comforted the community during difficult times. In the letter he discussed the relations with Christianity and Islam and encouraged the Jews, from a historical perspective, to be strong.