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Maimonides: Life and Thought by Gruss Professor of Law Moshe Halbertal won the 2013 National Jewish Book Award in Scholarship and was critically acclaimed as “an extraordinary book” by Foreign Affairs. At the NYU Law book launch party last November, Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, discussed the book with its author.

Q: You describe a transformational figure with tremendous ambition, but whose project was not received the way he would have liked it to be received.

A: Maimonides wanted to be the last word on this organism, the Talmud. But his codification work was a colossal failure because his great literary act ended up adding more material for Talmudists to interpret. What survives is an alternative voice. It’s a brave attempt that didn’t succeed in transforming the tradition, but it succeeded in adding to it a rare powerful voice.

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