To indeed make things worse, someone else claimed to be that Moshiach- a false Messiah, attracting a following of people who were blind to his many faults by the hope that he would be the true redeemer.

The elders of the community did not know what to make of this confusing situation, and wrote to the Rambam to help them. In a long letter of four chapters, the Rambam brought the community back to reality in a compassionate way encouraging them to be strong in their faith and not to believe in false prophets or Messiahs (such as this person, who ended up being beheaded). Using the Rambam’s advice, the community soon recovered nicely from all of these trials. They became a more observant community, and considered the Rambam as their Rabbi.

Pe’air HaDor (Teshuvos HaRambam)

This book of responsa from the Rambam is a classic sample of the difficult questions that are asked to the greatest Halachic minds: complicated monetary disputes, issues regarding marriage and divorce, and other difficult Halachic queries which arose during the time of the Rambam.

There are two other particular points of interest in these responsa. One is that the Scholars of Luniel (Chachmei Luniel, who admired the Rambam greatly) would often write to the Rambam, asking him to explain seemingly difficult passages in Mishna Torah. Many of the Rambam’s answers to their questions are recorded in Pe’air HaDor, making it a valuable resource when trying to understand a difficult Rambam. Usually, one of the classic commentaries, such as the Magid Mishna or Kesef Mishna, will bring the reader’s attention to the fact that the Chachmei Luniel and the Rambam discussed the subject at hand.

Additionally, there are some letters in Pe’air HaDor where the Rambam gives guidance on Jewish outlook to his students. In one letter, he instructs a student (Rebbi Yehuda ibn Aknin) on how to respond to the Rambam’s detractors (not to attack them) whose wisdom was only “in their own eyes”. The Rambam says that he himself would not attack this type of person who attacks him illogically, preferring to be in the category of people who do not respond when they are insulted. Quoting the Gemara in Berachos (19a), he explains reassuringly that “Hashem will demand the honor of those dear to Him”. In another letter, he instructs Rebbi Shmuel ibn Tibon at length on how to make an accurate translation (from Arabic to Hebrew) of his Moreh Nevuchim. In a letter named “Pirkei Hatzlacha”, he explains the spiritual components of a person (how they are similar to the vessels of the Beis HaMikdash) and the reward coming to one who is righteous in this world.