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Moses Maimonides

Travel Miracles II: From Fez to Alexandria in one night

by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.

One day, a pagan came and inquired among the Jewish congregation: "Is there a wise man, guided by the spirit of God, you could lead me to?"

"We have a man inspired by God, whose name is Moses Maimonides," answered the people, and led the pagan to Maimonides.

"I am an owner of a large ship," said the man to Maimonides. "The ship is in the port of Fez , and has been ready to go for days, but the winds are calm, and the sailors are unable to start the journey. Last night I dreamed that I am holding a Torah scroll in my hand, then hugging it to my heart. However, I am a pagan, and I do not study the Torah. Could you explain the dream?"

"Captain," said Maimonides, "are you ready to sail now? Do you have all the necessary provisions?"

"Three times I prepared the ship with everything we could possibly need, and three times we could not leave the port of Fez. This is the fourth time, the ship is ready, and all the provisions are on board."

"Would you like to sail right now?" asked Maimonides.

"Yes, Master," said the captain, "and if you go with me I shall be your slave."

"The Torah scroll in your dream was me," said Maimonides. "You held it in your hand, and then hugged it to your heart, because I will be coming with you. Go quickly; I will follow you, and as soon as I enter the ship we must leave."

The man obeyed; the moment Maimonides boarded the ship the wind rose and they sailed away. In one night the ship reached Alexandria , and Maimonides decided to live there.

Fez is not a port city. When Maimonides left Morocco to travel to Israel he embarked on his ship in the port city of Ceuta.
This is not meant literally. In the flowery language of the era, it meant "I shall be at your service."
In those days, the trip from Morocco to Alexandria normally took a few weeks.

Ilil Arbel. Maimonides: A Spiritual Biography. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company. (To be published September 2001).
Yitzhak Avishur. Shivhe ha-Rambam. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University. 1998.