The High Ways to Perfection of Abraham Maimonides
Columbia University Oriental Studies Vol. XXVII
By Samuel Rosenblatt
AMS Press Inc., (1966)
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - April 1, 2010
This book is a translation of Maimonides' son's book. Abraham, a thirteenth century Egyptian Jewish leader was 180 degrees removed from his father Maimonides. The father was rationally minded and followed the thinking of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, although he scrupulously observed Jewish tradition. The son also followed Jewish tradition, but he was a mystic; he praised the mystic Islamic Sufis of his day, and incorporated a host of their "pious" behaviors into his life.
God, to Maimonides, was the creator of the laws of nature; He made the world function according to these laws. Humans were expected to learn about the laws and use their knowledge to improve themselves and society and protect themselves and others from harm. Abraham believed that God is present and involved in this world, in every human thought and activity, and was responsible for people's illnesses and cures.
The father taught that a person must study, learn, and know about the world, while the son championed passivity, humility, and abstinence. He felt that the best humans would seclude himself from the world and atrophy his soul. The father recommended the active life and involvement with others; the son advised faith, prayer and a mystical union with God.
Dr. Rosenblatt translates Abraham's book very well and gives his readers a very good introduction to Abraham and his thinking.