New Review: Student’s Companion to The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, Tradition Online

“…the Guide remains a closed book to so many students of Torah because of its daunting but necessary prerequisite knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy. How does someone begin on the long road of tackling the Guide? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of commentary and analysis…. Recognizing, however, that many of these works may be inaccessible to the average reader, because of language and/or scholastic barriers, the latest entry by Dr. Ben Zion Katz, Student’s Companion to the Guide of the Perplexed, is a welcome addition. 

Dr. Katz came upon the study of the Guide as a “layman,” being a doctor of medicine and not of philosophy. The layman’s view, however, will be appreciated by so many in the Jewish community who lack the years of academic training in both secular and Jewish philosophy and who are seeking an explanation of and entrée to complex ideas and concepts. Katz has spent much effort researching many of the more abstruse topics in the Guide and he does a good job at simplifying these concepts. 

This is not a definitive work, but a brief and clear reader’s guide (it recalls the old “Cliff Notes” of my youth), weighing in at under 140 pages in “pocket book” format. Katz has attempted to economize on any embellishments, sticking to “just the facts” as much as possible. He presents a straightforward synopsis of what the Guide is, and only rarely adds terse commentary and analysis….Student’s Companion succeeds in its stated objective of being just what it claims to be. It is a great way to get one’s feet wet without investing a large amount of time and mental energy into trying to decipher some of the more academic writings on the Guide…. this small book will prove to be very helpful in making an initial foray into the world of Rambam’s Guide. I trust it will be well received by a new generation of the perplexed.”

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