Epistle to Yemen
The Epistle to Yemen or Yemen Epistle (Hebrew: אגרת תימן, "Iggeret Teman") was an important communication written by
Maimonidesand sent to the Yemenite Jews.
It arose because of
religious persecutionand heresyin 12th-century Yemen. The average Jewish population of Yemen for many centuries was very small. The Jews were scattered throughout the country, but they were successful in business and acquired books about the history of their faith.
The faith strengthened. There was a revolt against
Saladinas sultanin the last quarter of the 12th century, and Shia Muslims began to persecute the Jewish faith in the Yemen at this time. There were few scholars among the Yemeni Jews at that time: a putative prophet arose; he preached a syncretistic religion that combined Judaism and Islam, and claimed that the Biblehad foretold his coming.
The persecution and increasing apostasy led one of Yemen's most respected Jewish scholars,
Jacob ben Nathanael, to write for counsel to RabbiMoshe ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides.
Maimonides replied in an epistle written in Arabic that was later translated into Hebrew. This letter made a tremendous impression on Yemenite Jewry, and effectively stopped the
new religious movement. It also served as a source of strength, consolation and support for the faith in the continuing persecution.
Maimonides interceded with Saladin in
Egypt, and shortly thereafter the persecution came to an end.
History of responsa
* [http://www.torahforme.com/files/Rambam%20Igeret%20Teiman/ Oral Reading of Epistle to Yemen with Translation and Explanation]
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