Without Red Strings or Holy Water: Maimonides’ Mishne Torah

Without Red Strings or Holy Water: Maimonides’ Mishne Torah

48.00

H. Norman Strickman

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781936235483 (hardcover)
Pages: 180 pp.
Publication Date: October 2011

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Maimonides was one of the greatest Jewish personalities of the Middle Ages: a halakhist par excellence, a great philosopher, a political leader of his community, and a guardian of Jewish rights. In 1180 CE, Maimonides composed his Halakhic magnum opus, the Mishneh Torah, which can be described without exaggeration as the greatest code of Jewish law to be composed in the post-Talmudic era, unique in scope, originality, and language. In addition to dealing with an immense variety of Jewish law, from the laws of Sabbath and festival observances, dietary regulations, and relations between the sexes, to the sacrifi cial system, the construction of the Temple, and the making of priestly garments, the Mishneh Torah represents Maimonides’ conception of Judaism. Maimonides held that the version of Judaism believed in and practiced by many pious Jews of his generation had been infected with pagan notions. In the Mishneh Torah, he aimed at cleansing Judaism from these non-Jewish practices and beliefs and impressing upon readers that Jewish law and ritual are free from irrational and superstitious practices. Without Red Strings or Holy Water explores Maimonides’ views regarding God, the commandments, astrology, medicine, the evil eye, amulets, magic, theurgic practices, omens, communicating with the dead, the messianic era, midrashic literature, and the oral law. Without Red Strings or Holy Water will be of interest to all who are interested in the intellectual history of Judaism.


H. Norman Strickman (PhD Dropsie University, 1970) is a rabbi at Marine Park Jewish Center and a Professor of Judaic Studies at Touro College, New York.


Rabbi H. Norman Strickman’s excellent new study of [the Mishneh Torah] explores Maimonides’ views regarding astrology, medicine, the evil eye, amulets, magic, theurgic practices, omens, and communicating with the dead, and evil spirits. . . . The book is a most important contribution to the field. . . . I highly recommend it.
— David B. Levy, The Jewish Press, February 2013
Other scholars have noted how Egyptian Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides presented a strictly rational perspective of Judaism, but Strickman fills in some gaps and offers a new perspective. He characterizes the Mishneh Torah as the greatest code of Jewish law to be composed in the post-Talmudic era.
— Book News, Inc., Portland, OR