Page 169 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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KANARFOGEL / ON THE ASSESSMENT OF NAHMANIDES
161
WIDE SCOPE
In the last two decades, scholars have made great strides in
describ ing more precisely the ex trao rd in a ry range o f
Nahmanides’ intellectual-spiritual orientation and interests. A
number of rich studies have focused on the varied strands that
formed the core of Nahmanides’ training, attempting to assess
which of those strands played a dominant role in his writings.9
Particular attention has been paid to the kabbalistic teachings
o f Nahmanides. Nahmanides authored very few distinct
kabbalistic treatises.10His kabbalah was integrated within his oth­
er works, especially his commentaries to the Torah and to other
biblical books, as well as his
derashot.
The very fact that
Nahmanides chose to present kabbalistic material in exegetical
contexts says something about the nature of his kabbalah. Was
he attempting thereby to conceal his kabbalistic teachings or
was he advocating a particular approach to the study of Jewish
mysticism?
Moshe Idel has argued that Nahmanides’ relatively meager
output in terms of kabbalistic literature is tied to the fact that
Nahmanides was a conservative kabbalist. Ramban was prepared
to formulate or record only those kabbalistic interpretations that
he had received from his teacher(s). Even interpretations sug­
gested by fellow members of the Gerona school of kabbalah,
such as those of R. Ezra b. Solomon, were not accepted by
balah,”
Studies in Maimonides,
ed. I. Twersky (Cambridge, Mass., 1992), pp.
37-38, 41, 44-45, regarding esotericism, and D. Berger (below, n. 18), pp.
107-09, regarding Creadon.
9. The volume edited by Prof. Twersky (above n. 5, and cited frequently
below) is the most prominent example. Note also the series of articles by
Mauro Perani: “Note sull’esegesi biblica di Nahmanide,”
Revista Biblica
33
(1985): 229-43; “Senso letterale e senso cabalistico nel commento di Mosheh
b. Nahman all’espisodio de vitello d’oro,”
Henoch
8:1 (1986): 39-48; Esegesi
biblica e storia nel “Sefer ha-ge’ullah” di Nahmanide,”
Associazione Italiano
per lo studio del Giudaismo
4 (1987): 89-104; “Mistica e filosofia; la mediazione
di Nahmanide nella polemica sugli scritti di Maimonide,”
AISG
5 (1987):
227-56.
10. See Israel Ta-Shema,
Ha-Ramban ve-Yetzirato
(Jerusalem, 1967) [a bibliog­
raphy o f Ramban’s writings that also includes selected medieval and modern
responses and descriptions, prepared in conjunction with the seven hun­
dredth anniversary o f Ramban’s ‘
aliyah
], entries 32-34; Gershom Scholem,
Ha-Kabbalah bi-Gerona
(Jerusalem, 1964), pp. 12-15; 255-65; E. Gottlieb,
Mehkarim,
pp. 88-95, 569-70; Moshe Idel, “We Have No Kabbalistic Tra­
dition on This,”
Ramban: Explorations,
pp. 51-52.