Maimonides dispute

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The Maimonides dispute , named after Maimonides , is a dispute about diverse cultural, religious and social problems in the area of Judaism , which went through three first climaxes from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 14th century. The Maimonides dispute was triggered by the contrast between hierarchical, traditionally founded leadership and intellectual, personal leadership and expanded in the following decades to the following questions: Reason and philosophy in their relationship to belief and tradition; what is permitted and what is forbidden in educating a person who obeys the Torah ; proper understanding of anthropomorphism as it appears in the Bible and Talmud ; essential theological concepts such as the physical resurrection . The disputes continued in later centuries. The crisis of Spanish Judaism in the 15th century exacerbated the educational and social themes of the old controversy. In Renaissance Italy and in the flourishing Jewish centers of Poland-Lithuania , the old dispute flared up again, albeit in a softened form. In the 18th century, Moses Mendelssohn , the founder of the Jewish Enlightenment , gave the controversy a new, radical expression. The statements of Maimonides found a conservative formulation in the German Neo-Orthodoxy in the 19th century , mainly through their protagonist Samson Raphael Hirsch , who tried to combine religious and secular knowledge with the formula Torah we-Derech Erez . Among the Jews of Yemen in the 19th and early 20th centuries there was a dispute between supporters and opponents of Maimonides' positions.

Maimonides dispute in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the Maimonides dispute had three high points: around 1180 (during Maimonides' lifetime), around 1230 to 1232 (with the inclusion of David Kimchi , Nachmanides , Jona ben Abraham Gerondi and others, with a focus on Provence ), and around 1300 to 1306 (in connection with Solomon ben Abraham Adret , Ascher ben Jechiel , Jakob ibn Tibbon and others, with a focus on Christian Spain and Provence).

After the Almohads occupied Spain, Maimonides and his family fled to the Middle East. Here he met the hierarchical traditions of the Exilarch and the Babylonian Geonim . From a halachic point of view, Maimonides respected the Exilarchen , the leader of the Jewish diaspora , in his position as a descendant of King David and saw him as the appropriate authority for the appointment of judges . However, he vehemently opposed the Geonim's financial claims and denied their authority to collect money from individuals and communities.

Maimonides wrote his works in Islamic Egypt , but they also reached Europe, where the cultural and social conditions were completely different from those in the Middle East. The Christian Reconquista was in full swing on the Iberian Peninsula . European Jews suffered from the effects of the Crusades . Mystical tendencies and visionary ideas found their expression in the developing Kabbalah , especially in Spain and Provence. Maimonides' attempt to combine the belief of Judaism and the philosophy of Aristotle in the Greco-Arabic tradition , especially in his main philosophical work Leader of the Indecisive , was enthusiastically received mainly by the higher circles of Jewish society, while followers of mysticism expressed disgust turned away from it. Christianity was also faced with similar problems, as the conflict between Peter Abälard and Bernhard von Clairvaux shows. The struggle between the supporters and opponents of Maimonides came to a sudden end when the author's books were burned by the Dominican Inquisition in 1232. It is still not clear whether the Dominicans burned Maimonides' writings of their own accord in their fight against heresy , or whether they were incited to do so by Jewish informers, as contemporary followers of Maimonides believed. At around the same time, when the tomb of Maimonides was desecrated by European extremists in Tiberias , which was followed by the disputation in Paris and the burning of the Talmud in the early 1240s , public disputes among Jews were suspended for several decades.

From the end of the 13th to the beginning of the 14th century, however, the conflict was rekindled by the extreme allegorical explanations of certain rationalists. After much hesitation, Solomon Adret , the rabbi of Barcelona , issued a ban letter on July 26, 1305 threatening every member of the community with a cherem ( ban ) who is under 25 and studying the works of the Greeks on science or metaphysics , be it in the original language or in a translation.