Tag Archives: theology

More Maimonides from my pal Ilene

Ilene Winn-Lederer is a talented illustrator pal of mine. She’s written about  Maimonides and also created this beautiful image of him. I asked her to contribute her thoughts about Rabbi Moshe—here’s what she has to say. Incidentally, if you like Ilene’s illustration it is available as a print. Purchase info is at the end of this post.

Here is the text I promised to send. You may know this info but it’s what I provided to the JCC and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation when the painting was exhibited and later purchased. MAIMONIDES’ DREAM 1998
Sumi Ink, Acrylic on Paper 20″ x 24″

Maimonides… rabbi, physician and foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism is depicted in this acrylic on paper painting. As the prolific writer whose ideas about philosophy, religion, and medicine continue to influence these disciplines today, he is best known for three works: his commentary on the Mishna, his code of Jewish law, and his ‘Guide of the Perplexed’.

Born Moses Ben Maimon to an educated, distinguished family on March 30, 1135 in Cordoba, Spain, he lived in a time when nearly one-fifth of the people in Southern Spain were Jews. In 1159, a fanatical Islamic sect began to persecute the Jews of Cordoba and the family left Spain for Fez, Morocco. There, Maimonides began his study of medicine, but again his family fled persecution and moved to Palestine. By the 1160’s, they had finally settled in Fostat, Egypt, near Cairo where the practice of Judaism was permitted. Soon after their arrival Maimonides’ father and brother died and Maimonides began to practice medicine to support his family. He was in great demand for his learning and skills as a physician, and soon became court physician to Sultan Saladin. Maimonides also lectured at the local hospital, maintained a private practice, and was a leader in the Jewish community. Maimonides died on Dec. 13, 1204, and was buried in Tiberias near the Sea of Galilee.

I have envisioned Maimonides embracing the Torah, which is encased in a Sephardic style container known as a ‘tik’. He is seen in flight reflecting the phases of exile he and his family endured. His Egyptian sojourn and subsequent rebirth of his career as a physician is represented by the phoenix, which according to legend, was originally called the Bennu. It was associated with the Egyptian deity Osiris and identified as a heron with its long, straight back and two erect head feathers. Later named Phoenix by the Greeks for its brilliant red-gold plumage, this mythical bird was said to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis. Rising from the ashes, it symbolizes healing and immortality, just as the new sun rises from the old. The burning spice tower on the horizon alludes to the Golden Age of Spain when Judaism and Islam lived harmoniously. The tower burns, but is not consumed because of the memories that survive to become hope. Finally, the sun and moon image represents the timeless nature of dreams.

Thanks, Ilene! Here’s where you can purchase a print of MAIMONIDES’ DREAMhttp://magiceyegallery.com/PicturePage.aspx?id=42

Maimonides, Maimonides, there’s no one like Maimonides

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, or RAMBAM to his pals

Happy Hanukkah! It seems like a good time to post about Maimonides and Anno Mundi, or ‘in the year of the world’ in Latin.

Maimonides was a doctor, theologian, philosopher and legal scholar who studied the Hebrew Bible—what Christians call the Old Testament. He lived near Cairo, Egypt in the ad 1100s.

If you do any Bible study you’ll have realized that the Bible isn’t one book but a library of books. What makes Bible study challenging is trying to keep all the stories, laws, wisdom and poetry organized in your head.

Maimonides thought it would be a great idea to create a guide for studying the Bible. He focused on the 5 Books of Law, the Torah. These are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. As he wrote his guide, the Mishneh Torah, he found that he needed a chronology—a timeline of the events that happened in those books. Maimonides used the list of generations of people found in Genesis and Numbers to work backward to calculate when the world was created. That exact date of October 7, 3761 bc is now generally accepted in Judaism.

The Anno Mundi timeline is a theological one. You can’t count backwards from Year One because Time itself didn’t begin until that year. Today we’re in the year am 5780. Anno Mundi and the Hebrew calendar are used in synagogues and Jewish communities around the world.

Maimonides was one of those great thinkers whose influence extended far beyond his own time and place. You can’t believe the amount of stuff he wrote. I’ve given you a mere glimpse of him, but you can read more about Maimonides here.

https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/the-torah-and-linear-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/75991/jewish/Maimonides-His-Life-and-Works.htm

UPDATE: The current year has been changed to am 5780. Thanks, Jeffrey!

Bad Things 3

Yet another sketch from the Book of Job comic I’m working on.

Even after being afflicted with horrible, disgusting, festering boils, Job refuses to curse God. He tears his robe, shaves his head and goes to sit in the ash-heap—taking a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself with.

Bad Things 2

Here’s one of the most surprising things about The Book of Job—the Lord and Satan appear together as if on the stage of a morality play. To top that, Satan makes a bet with the Lord—that deprived of his wealth, Job would curse God.

I’m trying to keep the dialogue here somewhat casual & conversational—after all, one point of this comic is to make Job’s story easier to read. I have God say: “How about that Job?…” The good old King James Version goes: “And the Lord said unto Satan, ‘Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?'” How I love that! Satan’s lines in the KJV are delightfully impertinent: “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.'” (“Where’ve you been?” “Oh, out.”) This scene has echoes of ancient Near Eastern storytelling, where the gods and demi-gods have their squabbles. Gilgamesh and the gods and goddesses seemed always to have some tiff going on. Likewise in stories from Greek mythology.

As with the previous post, this is a sketch which will get inked in.

Bad Things

Yep, I’ve been working on some more of that Bible stuff I’m into. I was going to reduce the Book of Job (rhymes with ‘robe’) to a single page, as I’d done with the Major Prophets series. I didn’t feel a single page would do Job’s story justice. There’s simply too much story in Job.

So here’s the opener for an 8-page comic. This is merely the sketch, of course. I’ll ink it in like a proper comic. Maybe I’ll figure out how to color it, too.