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VCU Menorah Review Summer/Fall 2014
Number 81
For the Enrichment of Jewish Thought

Moreshet: From the Sources

The daily schedule of Maimonides

“The sultan lives in Cairo and I live in Fostat; the two towns are two Sabbath leagues apart. I have a difficult time with the sultan; I must visit him every morning. If he himself or one of his children or harem members is sick, then I may not leave Cairo. I spend most of the day in the sultan’s palace. Usually, I also have to treat some dignitary. In a word: I go to Cairo every morning at the crack of dawn, and if nothing keeps me there and nothing unforeseen occurs, I can come home only in the afternoon, but by no means any earlier.

Here, starving as I am, I find the antechamber full of people: Jews and non-Jews, nobles and lowly people, judges and officials, friends and foes, a motley company awaiting me with impatience. I dismount from my horse, wash, and enter the waiting room with the plea that they may not feel offended if I have to make them wait a bit longer while I partake of a hasty light meal, which normally happens only once every twenty-four hours. Then I go out to them again, treat them, and prescribe medicaments on notes. Thus the people go in and out of my home until late in the evening. Sometimes, I swear it on the Torah, it is 2 a.m. or even later before I manage to consume anything. I am then so worn out that I collapse on my bed; I have to say good night, I am totally exhausted and incapable of speaking. Only on the Sabbath can anyone speak to me alone, or can I be alone with myself for even an instant. Then all or most of the members of the community gather in my home after the morning prayer. I indicate what is to be done in the community during the coming week; then they listen to a short lecture until noon, go home, and return in a smaller number. Now a second lecture takes place, between the minchah and the maariv prayer. Thus do my days go by.”

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