The Maimonides (Rambam) Heritage

Maimonides' Appreciation for Medicine

Benjamin Gesundheit


Moses Maimonides, the illustrious medieval rabbi and philosopher, dedicated the last decade of his life primarily to medicine. His strong interest in medicine was an integral component of his religious-philosophical teachings and world view. In this paper various sources from his rabbinic writings are presented that explain Maimonides’ motivation regarding and deep appreciation for medicine: (A) The physician fulfills the basic biblical obligation to return lost objects to their owner, for with his knowledge and experience the physician can restore good health to his sick fellow human being; (B) medicine provides a unique opportunity to practice imitatio dei, as it reflects the religious duty to maintain a healthy life-style; (C) as an important natural science, medicine offers tools to recognize, love and fear God. These three aspects address man’s relationship and obligation towards his fellow man, himself and God. Biographical insights supported by additional sources from Maimonides’ writings are discussed.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2011;2(1):e0018