I was pleased to have come across a concise book about the life of Maimonides, the revered 12th century Jewish philosopher, physician, and Torah scholar. Ever since I decided to pursue holistic health I felt a growing interest in Maimonides approach to life and health. It was inspiring to read that the approach in health and mindset, meditation and mindfulness that I have adopted is closely modeled after Maimonides, whose “entire lifework and mission was that our physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects can work together in great harmony — if we desire to make it happen.”
I recommend it to anyone interested in reading about Maimonides, the great philosopher and physician who’s knowledge is used today in many subjects, including philosophy and medicine.
To read my notes on the book Click Here or scroll down – I downloaded the note taking template from Ali Abdaal, which he talks about here.
🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences
A sketch of important dates in Maimonides Life
Selected Writings from several of Maimonides works that explain his view on physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Visionary Tales that express Maimonides alternative approaches to health, perspective, healing, medicine, and empathy
Maimonides looked carefully into the 👀 of each patient in order to determine illness
How I Discovered It
At the Chabad of Uptown Houston
Who Should Read It?
Anyone interested in reading about Maimonides, the great philosopher and physician who's knowledge is used today in many subjects , including philosophy and medicine.
☘️ How the Book Changed Me
How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.
I had asked for a concise book that presents the main ideas and concepts introduced by Maimonides, so this was great.
The approach in health and mindset I have developed models closely to Maimonides
The ancient sages preferred to pause and meditate one hour before the service and one hour after the service, and take one hour in its recital (Mishneh Torah book 2, treatise 2, chapter 4:16).
✍️ My Top Quotes
If a person, perfect in his intellectual and moral faculties, and also perfect - as far as possible - in his imaginative faculty prepares himself [properly] ... he must become a prophet, for prophecy is a natural state of humanity.
📒 Summary + Notes
Even in the 12th century, he downplayed the importance of drugs and surgery and instead emphasized diet, exercise, and mental outlook are the key determinants of day to day health
Maimonides understood the many environmental and social influences on a person's health and well being, as well as personality. This chapter mentions Maimonides recommendations for daily habits and actions, the need for wisdom and being around wise people, while also explaining that character is developed by the repetition of his actions. I thought it was interesting that it was also mentioned that Maimonides placed a need for new experiences in order to not get redundant in one's actions.
On Becoming a Sage
Maintain a Balanced Character: The middle way - the mean in every single one of an individuals characteristics
Structure your home as a place for sages
Personal transformation is possible.
Strive for Brevity and simplicity
Get a Mentor.
The need for Mindfulness - "turn your thoughts away from everything while you say the Shema or other daily prayers." " Have your mind exclusively directed to what you are doing." (Guide for the Perplexed book 3 chapter 51)
All Learning is Sacred
Endeavor to connect with God.
Love wisdom. Seek her as a silver and search for her as for a hidden treasure — proverbs 24. Fasten it in your mind and deposit it in your heart.
Read Aloud 🗣️ "whoever studies aloud retains his learning, but one who reads silently forgets quickly." (Mishneh Torah book 1, treatise 3, chapter 3:12)
When there are no teachers, a person must serve as his own teacher
Truth is independent of its presenter (Mishneh Torah, book 14, treatise 17, 24:1)
Spiritual Awakening and Prophecy
Encountering the Divine
Boundaries of the Mind
Prophecy in vision or dream
One must be accomplished, their prophecy must be true, for someone to be a prophet
Prophecy is an emanation sent forth from God through the medium of the Active Intellect: first to one's rational faculty and then to one's imaginative faculty.
🍊"Dream is the unripe fruit of prophecy." (Bereishit Rabba 17)
The spirit of prophecy ... rests upon the joyous. (8 chapters, Chapter 7).
Social Relations and Leadership
"condense remarks to one sentence ... abundance of speech increases error."
👔 Dress according to your means (to son Abraham)
And my heart is humbled within me (psalm 109:22)
"Silence is a fence for wisdom" — Pirkey Avot
Review ideas before communicating it to the public
Always have friends!
"do not establish friendship according to your nature; establish friendship according to your friend's nature."
Speak silently and calmly
The Way of Health and Longevity
When one possesses a good body and normal sensual desires that do not overwhelm him, he has truly a divine gift 🎁
The basis of Maimonides entire lifework and mission was that our physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects can work together in great harmony — if we desire to make it happen
nutrition - eat less, increases clarity of mind, work before eating, rest after eating
With the eye of the mind, your sad thoughts will disappear (preservation of youth ch.3)
Foundations of Judaism
The God Force "cannot describe the Creator by any means except by negative attributes" — what It is not.
The more praises for God, the more praises he himself deserves
guidlines for prayer (p.105)
Any prayer uttered without mental concentration is not prayer. It is forbidden to pray until one's mind is composed
Rungs of Charity - be generous in charity. Tzeddakah is the mark of righteous.
No one ever becomes poor from giving charity.
Sacred Sabbath (p106)
the objective of sabbath is obvious and requires no explanation. The rest it affords to the individual is known: 1/7th of the life of every person — whether lowly or great — passes thus in comfort and in rest from trouble and exertion (Guide to the Perplexed, book 3, ch 43)