Precious Possessions

Letter Requesting Funds to Ransom Captives

Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides)
Egypt, 1170
ms. 8254

Moses Maimonides, the great rabbi, philosopher and author, was one of the most illustrious Jewish figures of all time. He was born in Cordoba, Spain, on the eve of Passover in 1138 and died on December 13, 1204 in Fustat, Egypt. In this open letter, penned by Maimonides' personal secretary, Mevorakh ben Nathan, and signed by the sage himself, Maimonides pleads for funds to ransom Jewish captives taken prisoner in November 1168 in Bilbays, Egypt by the crusader king Amalric I of Jerusalem. This leaf from the Cairo Genizah was part of Solomon Schechter's personal collection of fragments, which he brought to the United States when he assumed the post of president of the Seminary.