AND NOW, THE RAMBAM!
[Mi Moishe ad Moishe, lo kam ki Moishe – From Moses (our teacher) to Moses (Ben Maimon) there was none like Moses.]
In 1232 the Dominicans (an xtian monkish brood) offended everybody by seizing all copies of The Guide For The Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim) that they could lay their hands on and burning them.
Ten years later (1242) the French civil authorities upped the ante, as their contribution to civilized discourse, by burning twenty four cartloads of Jewish books (in an age when all books were copied by hand!) on the same spot where The Guide For The Perplexed had been immolated by the monks. Including, predictably, all of Rabbi Moshe's writings that they could lay their hands on.
But the Christians weren't the only ones peeved at Rabbi Moshe - many of the Talmudists of France and Germany loathed his books as being insulting to Torah, and speculative heresy besides.
The burnings kind of calmed things for a while, though most literate people were shocked by such barbarism.
At the end of the thirteenth century disputes regarding the Rambam's writings flared up again, with the main focus of argument now being opposition to scientific study by the Northern European Talmud scholars, who considered the southern rationalists to be heretics and despoilers of Talmud-Torah. Bekitsur, Torah as revelation versus Torah as philosophical metaphor.
Shlomo Ben Avraham Aderet (the Rashba, 1235 – 1311), and Asher ben Yechiel (the Rosh, 1250 – 1328, whose transcendent commentary is found in many copies of the Bavli, a student of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (the Maharam, 1215 – 1293), and father of the Tur) eventually worked out a compromise for all sides, which boiled down to a ban on anyone under the age of twenty-five studying secular science, in which the Northerners included The Guide For The Perplexed, and metaphysics - medicine and philosophy were, however, finally permitted.
If you think about this too hard, your head will hurt.
And you will realize that the stupid have a way of controlling the discourse, today as they did centuries ago.
As a species we've not progressed nearly as much as we like to think we have.
Now, does any of this have anything at all to do with the preceding rant (post below), in which I make unpleasant remarks about the Dutch?
Well, yes. Sort of.
In slangy metropolitan Netherlandish, one might hear someone curse another person by saying "kryg de rambam" (get the Rambam). It is a very strange phrase, only partially made clear by the similarity to other curses like 'kryg de kleere' (get cholera) and 'kryg de pest' (get the plague).
Perhaps the phrase came about when a well-read collegian tongue-in-cheekily wished a surfeit of heavy reading material on an associate. But to the average person, who knows not what a rambam is, it sounds appropriately unpleasant. Perhaps it is a tropical disease.
I sincerely wish that some of my fellow Dutch-speakers should get the Rambam.