About Rabbi Maimon HaDayan ben Yoseph [Rambam father]
Maimonides father - אבי הרמב״ם
Maimon (Ar. Maymūn) ben Joseph ha-Dayyan (ca. 1110–ca. 1166), the father of Moses Maimonides, was a disciple of Joseph ha-Levi ben Meʾir ibn Migash, with whom he studied in Lucena. Maimon served as a rabbi and jurist in Cordova until the Almohad conquest. He was a scion of an important Sephardi family of al-Andalus documented as far back as the beginning of the tenth century. Almost all of his forebears were judges (Heb. dayyanim) and communal leaders: The sources trace the family line back for seven generations from Maimon’s father, Joseph the sage. Joseph’s father was Isaac ha-dayyan, Isaac’s father was Joseph ha-dayyan, his father was Obadiah ha-dayyan, his father was Solomon ha-dayyan, his father was Joseph the sage, his father was Isaac ha-dayyan, and his father was Joseph ha-dayyan in the late tenth century.
In 1145 to 1146, Ibn Ḥamdīn, the governor of Cordova, revolted against his Almoravid overlords, and the next year he sent emissaries to treat with the Almohad caliph, ʿAbd al-Muʾmin. The city agreed to submit peacefully to ʿAbd al-Muʾmin, and when the Almohad army entered Cordova in 1148 they came as allies and liberators. Although the Almohads prohibited the public worship of any religion other than Islam, there is no record of any bloodletting in Cordova of the kind that had occurred in conquered cities in the Maghreb.
Nothing specific is known about how these events affected Maimon and his family. It has been speculated that they left Cordovaat this time to escape the Almohad regime and went to various places in Spain and perhaps even Provence before they settled in the North African city of Fez, but there is no evidence that they left Almohad territory until Saturday night April, 18, 1165, nearly two decades after these events, when they departed from Fez, bound for the Levant. In light of this, it must be assumed that they remained in Cordova until 1159 to 1160, posing as Muslims, and then moved to Fez, the Almohad capital in Morocco, apparently because the life of a crypto-Jew was easier there.
According to the Seder ha-Dorot of Saʿadya ibn Danan, a chronicle from the late fifteenth century, Maimon and his sons Moses and David were attracted to Fez by the presence there of the scholar Judah ha-Kohen ibn Shoshan. They were probably also motivated by the fact that North Africa was in many respects more politically stable than al-Andalus. According to the Arabic historian Ibn Ṣāhib al-Ṣalā, by September 24, 1162 only eighty-two men remained in Cordova, since during the revolt of Ibn Ḥamushk, almost all of its inhabitants, both Muslims and non-Muslims, had abandoned the city and its environs. Rabbi Maimon’s family left al-Andalus for North Africa around this time because they felt profoundly linked to the land in which they believed their ancestors had settled after the fall of the First Temple.
During his first year in Fez, Maimon composed his Epistle of Consolation (Heb. Iggeret ha-Neḥama), a pastoral work in Judeo-Arabic encouraging his disheartened fellow Jews to fulfill all the commandments of their faith and giving assurance that God’s promises to His people would all come true. He emphasized that those who were forced to convert to Islam could perform the commandments in secret and remain true to their tradition without having to suffer martyrdom. He put particular emphasis upon the obligatory daily ʿ Amida prayer, stating that it could be recited in abbreviated form and in Arabic. Maimon compares the plight of his coreligionists to a man drowning in water that reaches up to his nostrils. He writes: “Lo, a lifeline consisting of God’s commandments and Torah hangs from heaven to earth, and whoever grabs hold of it still has hopes of surviving.” Maimon warned his readers against joining the following of Moses Darʿī, a Moroccan scholar who claimed to be a forerunner of the messiah.
The Epistle of Consolation has been published and translated a number of times: by Z. H. Edelman (Ḥemda Genuza, pt. I, Königsberg, 1856, pp. 74–82) and by L. N. Simmons with an English translation (Jewish Quarterly Review, o.s. 2, 1890); in a Hebrew version by S. Halperin (Warsaw, 1917; repr. Jerusalem, 1966); in another Hebrew version by B. Klar (Jerusalem, 1945); and in a new English translation by F. Rosner (Haifa, 2003).
Maimon also wrote Judeo-Arabic commentaries on the Pentateuch that are known from the commentaries of his grandson, Abraham Maimonides, as well as a commentary on the dinim (laws) pertaining to ritual practices and the festivals (described by Marmorstein). He also apparently wrote commentaries on the Book of Esther and on the Mishna. Only Maimon’s responsa were written (or preserved) in Hebrew.
According to Ibn Danan, Maimon and his family decided to leave Fez when Ibn Shoshan suffered martyrdom. They journeyed to Palestine via Alexandria, and he died in Jerusalem, after which the family moved to Egypt. A slightly different itinerary is found in the Sefer Ḥaredim of Eleazar ben Moses Azikri (1533–1600); at the end of the Perush Rosh ha‑Shana, attributed to Maimonides, there is a letter in which Maimonides, speaking in the first person, states that Maimon’s family disembarked in Acre a month after leaving Fez and only in October decided, despite the danger, to visit Jerusalem and Hebron, after which they set out for Egypt, arriving there at the end of 1165 or the beginning of 1166. It is not clear whether Maimon died in Palestine or shortly after arriving in Egypt. Sometime later, in a letter to Japheth ben Elijah, Maimonides speaks bitterly about the pilgrimage he made years earlier with his father and brother, and complains about Japheth’s failure to send his condolences when they died.
Some scholars have tried to identify Maimon ben Joseph ha-Dayyan with the mathematician and astronomer named Maimon who wrote a commentary on the ninth-century astronomical work of al-Farghānī. Steinschneider has shown that the author of this treatise was not Maimon ha-Dayyan, but a certain Maimon of Montpellier.
Freimann, A. H. “Teshuvot Rabbi Maimon ha-Dayyan Avi ha-Rambam,” Tarbiz 6 (1934–35): 408–420.
Hirschberg, H. Z. (J. W.). A History of the Jews in North Africa (Leiden: Brill, 1974), vol. 1, pp. 136–138, 193–194, 350.
Maimon ben Joseph ha-Dayyan. Letter of Consolation of Maimon Father of Moses Maimonides, ed. and trans. Fred Rosner (Haifa: Maimonides Research Institute, 2003).
Marmorstein, A. “Sefer Dine Tefilla u-Moʿadim shel R. Maimon, Avi ha-Rambam,ˮ Tarbiz 6 (1934/35): 426–428.
Moses ben Maimon. Carta sobre el Mesías (a la comunidad del Yemen)— Carta sobre astrología (a la comunidad de Montpellier) de Mošeh ben Maimon, trans. and com. Judit Targarona Borrás (Barcelona: Riopiedras, 1987).
Simmons, L. N. “Letter of Consolation of Maimon ben Joseph,ˮ Jewish Quarterly Review, o.s. 2 (1890): 62–101 [English trans.], 335–69 [Arabic].
Steinschneider, Moritz. Die arabische Literatur der Juden (Frankfurt a. M.: Kauffmann, 1902), pp. 197–199.
Cite this page
Judit Targarona. "Maimon ben Joseph ha-Dayyan." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2013.<http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-jews-in-the-islamic-world/maimon-ben-joseph-ha-dayyan-COM_0014310>
About Rabbi Maimon HaDayan ben Yoseph [Rambam father], רבי מימון הדיין בן יוסף אבי הרמב"ם (עברית)
ר' מימון הדיין ידוע בעיקר בזכות בנו ותלמידו הגדול, הרמב"ם. ברם, ר' מיימון עצמו היה תלמיד חכם גדול בזכות עצמו, כפי שתוארו מעיד, וצאצא למשפחה של רבנים ודיינים. הרמב"ם מכנה את אבי אביו, רבי יוסף, בתואר "החכם". רבי מימון שימש כדיין בבית הדין של ר' יוסף אבן מיגאש, שהיה רבו.
ר' מיימון נאלץ לעקור ביחד עם משפחתו מספרד, עקב פרעות שהתחילו ביהודים, ועבר עם משפחתו לפס שבמרוקו. משם נאלץ לברוח שוב עם משפחתו בעקבות גזירות חדשות של כת האל-מוואחידון הקנאית. הפעם המשפחה עברה לארץ ישראל. משפחתו ככל הנראה ניסתה להיאחז בארץ ישראל, אך תנאי החיים תחת השלטון הצלבני היו קשים מדי, והמשפחה המשיכה לנדוד עד שהגיעה למצרים והתיישבה שם. ר' מיימון עצמו, ככל הנראה נפטר בארץ ישראל.
בידינו נותרו תשובות הלכתיות של ר' מיימון, וכן אגרת שהוא כתב ליהודים בעת הפרעות, על־מנת לעודדם. תשובות אלו ואגרת זו יצאו לאחרונה לאור בספר אגרת הנחמה, בהוצאת מוסד הרב קוק, 2008.
תשובותיו של ר' מיימון פורסמו גם קודם לכן, בספר "חיי הרמב"ם" על ידי ר' יהודה לייב מימון
Rabbi Maimon HaDayan ben Yoseph [Rambam father]'s Timeline
Córdoba, AL, España
Córdoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain)