Maimonides himself addresses these Jewish rules:13 We may not shave the corners of our heads as the idolaters and their priests do, as Leviticus [19:27] states: “Do not cut off the corners of your heads.” One may remove [the hairs from] the corners [of our heads] with scissors. The prohibition applies only to total removal with a razor. Did King David
have visible Pe-ot as we now know them? Did the rabbis of the Mishna? Did Maimonides? The evidence is wholly against it. Maimonides had most probably kept his side curls mildly trimmed by scissors rather than fully shaved as depicted in the portrait. Full-grown Pe-ot originated only in the sixteenth century when it became socially #INCB024360 keyword# important for observant Jews effectively to distinguish Jews from non-Jews and, more importantly, Jews from other Jews who were thought to be too modern. Whoever drew the Maimonides portrait was not aware that completely shaven side curls and a trimmed beard are in fact characteristic of Islamic figures. Alternatively, Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical the artist may have assumed that because of his high ranking
and frequent encounters with kings and ministers Maimonides must have worn clothes that resembled Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical Islamic clothes as well as shaved and trimmed his facial hair like distinguished Islamic figures. Interestingly, Maimonides has indeed allowed this in rare circumstances like his:14 A Jew who has an important position in a gentile kingdom and must sit before their kings, and would be embarrassed if he did not resemble them, is granted permission to wear clothes which resemble theirs and shave the hair on his face as they do. The artist may have even deliberately drawn Maimonides to appear as a Muslim scholar in order to appeal Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical to non-Jewish audiences and emphasize the influence of Islamic culture, science, and medicine on Maimonides rather than Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical his Jewish origin and education. Key figures engaged in circulating the Maimonides portrait in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were mostly leaders of the Jewish Enlightenment
movement (Haskalah in Hebrew). Haskalah advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for ANNUAL REVIEWS better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history. Haskalah in this sense marked the beginning of the wider engagement of European Jews with the secular world, ultimately resulting in the first Jewish political movements and the struggle for Jewish emancipation. Maimonides’ portrait lacking characteristic Jewish features was in line with their motto “Be a Jew at home, and a man in the street”. It is of interest to note that, unlike in the portrait, in the renowned statue in Cordoba (Figure 11) Maimonides does appear to have side curls. This may reflect the artist’s perception of prominent, especially religious, Jews.