Commentary

Type: Commentary

Ramban's Commentary to the Torah:

Author

Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, also known by the Hebrew acronym "Ramban" and the Latin designation "Nahmanides."

He was a prolific author, producing important Talmudic commentaries and other works on Jewish religious law. He also had a broad education in science, philosophy and languges.

Ramban was chosen by the king of Aragon to defend Judaism at the famous religious disputation against the apostate Pablo Christiani. In the wake of his success, he was impelled to fulfil his dream of moving to the Holy Land, where he spent the latter years of his life.

Dates

1194-1270

Place

Gerona, Spain. He died in Acre, Israel

Description

Nahmanides' Torah commentary is the mature work of an accomplished scholar, in which he deals in profound detail with each aspect of the Biblical text. He was familiar with the commentaries of Rashi and Ibn Ezra, and he discusses their explanations carefully, often expressing his disagreement. In many of his works he displays a strong conservative leaning, and this is evident in his Torah commentary as well: He makes use of his formidable erudition and ingenuity in order to support the traditional teachings of the accepted religious sources, and severely attacks scholars (including Ibn Ezra) who do not display proper respect for the traditional explanations.

Ramban's commentary was one of the earliest documents to include references to the teachings of the Kabbalah. This system of esoteric mysticism, based on a theory of ten divine powers whose workings may be discerned in the words of the Biblicla text, had evolved over the previous generations among the Jewish mystics of Provence, but it was carefull preserved as a secret doctrine that could not be taught publicly. Nahmanides included several Kabbalistic interpretations in his commentary, which he inroduced as "according to the way of truth." He tried to sidestep the restrictions against public teaching of the doctrine by formulating in such a brief and cryptic way that they could not be understood by anyone who was not already familiar with Kabbalistic symbolism.


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