Friday December 28th: 20 Tevet
It was on this day in the year 1204 that Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides or the Rambam, died. To this day Maimonides is considered to be one of the most esteemed, perhaps the premier sage of rabbinical Judaism. He was a noted Talmudist, a codifier, a writer, a philosopher, exhibiting great insight into the writings of Moses and the Prophets. Many Jewish people still look to what Maimonides had to say on different topics to gain insight into the Scriptures. Even some believers peruse the writings of Maimonides to better understand Judaism’s positions on Scripture. Frankly, there are valuable things believers can learn from rabbis, including Maimonides. Perhaps the greatest thing we have already learned from these rabbis is that, with all of their insight and knowledge of Scripture, they still do not regard Jesus of Nazareth as being the Messiah.
It is easy to be impressed with knowledge. When it comes to understanding the Scripture, sometimes we can be enamored with what the scholars, Jewish and Christian, know. This can be especially seductive when it comes to some of the different rabbinical writings. A lot of the information they give us access to can easily lead us into a maze of information. But remember, as we study these things, we should filter what they say through the fact that they don’t accept Jesus as being the Messiah. In other words, if we’re not careful we can become mesmerized with knowledge to the point that we end up eating the fruit of a mixed tree. When Adam and Eve fell into this trap, they ended up turning their back on the Tree of Life; in other words, Messiah.
So, with all due respect to the Rambam and the other different sages, their writings and insights – things that we can learn from – we need to remember that the greatest of all rabbis said:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)
Let us continue to learn from others, including people like Maimonides, but understanding that everything we learn should always point us toward the Tree of Life, the Messiah. If knowledge is pulling us away from Him, then it is knowledge that we do not need. Let’s keep that in mind as we pursue understanding.