Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Tomb of Maimonides

Maimonides (anacronym  for Moshe Ben Maimon), hebrew name Harambam (anacronym for Harav Moshe Ben Maimon), was born in Spain, lived and died in Egypt, and found his final resting place in Israel, Tiberias.

He was a medieval physician, philosopher, astronomer, sephardic rabbi - and his tomb is a place of pilgrimage .That's interesting, even ironic, as he himself was against pilgrimage to graves of rabbis. In fact, he was against the building of headstones. Probably, he would not have approved of the recent, vast renovation of the site  (a matter of millions, received as a donation).

painting of Maimonides at te entrance shop

Last month , when I visited Tiberias, it was my first time at the site of the tomb. 
It is located  not far from the central bus station and the old town center. Actually, it's a complex which includes Maimonides' tomb the graves of some other famous rabbis, an Heritage Center (cultural-educational institution established to promote his teachings) , and a high sculpture which could be seen from afar. The little, narrow street itself is named Harambam in his honour.

tall sculpture at the site

Welcome sign at the entrance; behind  tree , Heritage Center

Blue sign with the name of the street - Harambam

I knew the site had been undergoing big renovation for some time, but I thought it was all over; well, not quite. Dust, water on the stairs, lack of signage , noisy workers  -  were a bad start to my visit. I was afraid of slipping and falling, so I took the parallel set of stairs , near the other tombs, not the slippery one leading directly up to the hall where the tomb of Maimonides was.

wet, slippery stairs leading to the tomb;  pillars on each side

Perhaps they should have closed the place for the whole period of renovation, since with all the work going on, it didn't look like a holy place. At the entrance, there was a kind of souvenir shop selling touristy stuff, which, in my opinion, cheapened the spiritual and religious atmosphere of the place.  I felt sad about that.

souvenir shop at the entrance

The marble tomb of Maimonides is in the center of a big hall. His father's tomb lies by the wall on a slightly elevated floor. Nearby, an interesting blue, iron candle- house with a white big candle inside; on the iron work - a framed paper with a printed prayer to be read at the tomb.

Maimonides' marble tomb in the middle of the big hall

Me, at the father's tomb; a couple praying at Maimonides' tomb

blue, iron candle-house; white candle inside

framed prayer on the iron candlehouse structure

It was in the late afternoon hours, and there were few people there (the place, as far as I know, is usually crowded with visitors).  I paid my respects to the great scholar and his father, and left.

People outside the tomb hall.

After leaving the place, I wanted to reflect on what I'd just experienced, and since I felt hungry I grabbed a shawarma (donner) in a pita pocket (my favorite fast food), at the Aloush eatery in the center, and got myself a chair at a red table outside. The red chairs and tables , and the tasty food, slightly cheered me up.

Aloush eatery - shawarma and felafel

red chairs and tables belonging to the fast food eatery Aloush

I hope the final outcome of the renovation will be successful and will do justice to the great personality of Maimonides.
At the entrance, on the gate, there was a round stone with an epiphany reading  "From Moshe to Moshe arose no one like Moshe". The first Moshe (Moses) referred to, is the one that was given the Torah by God at Mt. Sinai.

epiphany on the entrance gate


justjill said...

I was interested in this but found it all very sad. Is this normal for museums there?

DUTA said...

There is a small museum within the Heritage Center, but I didn't visit that part of the complex. It was my first time at the site, so my goal was the tomb of Maimonides only. I hope to visit again when renovation works will be over, and then I'll also visit the Heritage Center with its museum and hospitality rooms.

Krystal // Village said...

wow that is quite a structure. i also hate when tourist items are sold at these types of places...i've been to so many cathedrals that also sell tourist stuff! it doesn't make sense to me!

DUTA said...

Yes, very impressive statue!
I suppose at the Heritage Center they sell items that are more suitable to the spirit of the place.

Krystal // Village said...

Thanks for the well wishes :)

DUTA said...

You're welcome.

Cheapchick said...

Unfortunately at many holy/religious places in the world they cater to the tourist taste now with souvenirs, I agree, distasteful. Happy New Year Duta!

DUTA said...

I'm not against selling of souvenirs at holy places, provided the items are of a religious/spiritual nature and are an authentic memento of the place visited.

Saleslady371 said...

Hi, Duta!
I liked reading about your visit to the tombs and the explanation. I feel sad about the selling of souvenirs too; what a shame. Glad you cheered yourself up at the red table. Now I have a hankering for a felafel. Thank you for all you teach us!

DUTA said...

I hope that after renovation is completed things will look better regarding the souvenir shop at the gate, too.

Falafel and Shawarma are our most popular fast foods. It depends, of course, where you buy it.

shayndel said...

Quite a visit! I loved the image at the end of you sitting down at a red (formica?!) table eating a ?Shawarma. I never heard of it, so it also struck me as such a perfect moment in the post to reflect on your visit that was full of things to reflect on. Yes, as Mary said, thank you for all you teach us! Now if only we had a shawashura here I would have one too ...(smile).

Lee said...

Another interesting post, DUTA...thank you. I learn so much from your posts. :)

That is a fascinating sculpture.

I hope 2018 treats you kindly in every way. :)

DUTA said...

Thanks, Lee.
Hope you have a terrific 2018 year too!

DUTA said...

Yes, formica tables. I presume in the big city of Tokyo there are shawarma eateries; it's a middle-eastern dish, and spread all over the world just like the italian-born Pizza.

You put it right; my visit at the Tomb was full of things to reflect upon.

Alicia said...

That certainly is interesting that he would have such a lavish tomb when he was so against them. I would think out of respect they would have created something less magnificent. But if it brings people peace to visit then it may be a good thing. I'm glad you found a cheerful place afterward to sit and relax and find nourishment. Excellent post as always!

DUTA said...

This is really bothering me, Alicia - pilgrimage and prayer at the grave of a rabbi, against his own teachings. I intend to read and learn more about this issue.

Poppy said...

Very interesting to read about Maimonides' tomb. Too bad about all the construction and souvenir shops surrounding the site, as they did detract from an otherwise more enjoyable and satisfying experience.

Wishing you the very best in 2018, Duta!


DUTA said...

The supervision of the place is probably not in the best of hands (so it seems), but there's hope the renovation will change things to the better.

Nikki (Sarah) said...

thank you Duta for bringing Israel to life for me. All my life I've heard about Maimonides. My father quoted him many times. Nice to see your tour of the place even if with the renovations on.

DUTA said...

You're welcome. I'm glad I've managed to visit the site. I was in Tiberias before, but in the area of the Hot Springs and the beaches, and never made it to the Tomb.

rainfield61 said...

Thank you for this interesting post.
This adds knowledge.

DUTA said...

Glad you think so; thanks for reading it.

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Loved this post on Maimonides tomb.Didn't know Moshe means Moses.I immediately recalled the one eyed hero Moshe Dayan your erstwhile Army Chief/then Defence Minister/Prime minister. Your writing is simple yet effective & I enjoyed reading. Hope you visit this place once again after renovation is completed.Happy New Year.

DUTA said...

Moshe(Mozes) is a common name with the Jews. You're right about Moshe Dayan (kudos for your knowledge!).
Thanks a lot for your kind comment.
Happy 2018 to you and yours!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Many times museums and such are closed when renovations are underway so it was interesting to read that this one remained open, Duta. It's always always amazed me that souvenir and gift shops are usually found near the exits of similar places we've visited.

DUTA said...

Perhaps there was pressure from believers or people that frequently visit the place, to keep it open. Who knows?

Jenn Jilks said...

I'm of two minds as to their closing for renovations. If people don't know... they'd be disappointed if they couldn't see anything. Yet, I don't like seeing construction!

Sandi said...


I don't know why it took me so long to find your blog. Looks like everyone from my blogging circle is here! Well, glad to be here now. :)

It makes me a little sad too. Imagine how sad it would make him. Ha...he didn't even like pigrimages. Probably rolling over right now!

DUTA said...

Welcome to my little blog!

That's something that keeps bothering me. Harambam's teachings specifically mention his dissapproval of pilgrimages to the graves of rabbis.