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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Berger, that Nahmanides employed rigorous philosophical a r­
gumentation in connecting the reality of miracles with creation
ex nihilo,
and that Nahmanides saw natural law as governing
the lives of almost all people. Indeed, in Berger’s view,
Nahmanides was among those who were attracted to the study
o f kabbalah in order to “satisfy their yearning for what might
best be termed not a religious philosophy but a philosophical
religion.”29
Ramban’s attitude toward Maimonides’ philosophical works
also needs to be considered. Ramban studied
Moreh Nevukhim
thoroughly, possibly in its Arabic original.30 He disagreed with
it on numerous occasions in his Torah commentary, not as an
object of derision or as a fundamentally flawed work, but as
both a locus of novel interpretations that were occasionally un ­
successful, and as a work of Jewish Aristotelianism that read
into biblical passages and rabbinic formulations ideas which
Nahmanides did not believe they held.31 In suggesting to the
Rabbis of Northern France, ostensibly as a compromise, that
Moreh Nevukhim
be sanctioned for study only by small groups
of capable students, Nahmanides was perhaps arguing for what
he himself believed to be the best policy in any event. Although
(Jerusalem, 1989), pp. 266-72; Michael Oron, “Kavvim le-Torat ha-Nefesh
veha-Gilgul ba-Kabbalah ba-Me’ah ha-Yod Gimmel,”
Mehkarim be-Hagut
Yehudit,
pp. 277-83; Avraham Lifshitz, “Le-Torat ha-Beri’ah shel R. Mosheh
ben Nahman,”
Sinai
100 (1987): 534-41; B. Safran, “R. Azriel and
Nahmanides,” p. 81; Idel, “Maimonides and Kabbalah,” pp. 35-37, esp.
n. 15; Alan Brill, “The Kabbalistic Neoplatonism o f R. Azriel o f Gerona
and R. Moses Nahmanides,” (unpublished paper presented at the annual
conference o f the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston, Mass., December,
1992). On the members o f the Gerona school who were even more inclined
than Ramban toward philosophy, see also
Peirush ha-Aggadot le-R. Azriel,
ed. Isaiah Tishby (Jerusalem, 1945), p. 83, and cf. Alexander Altmann,
Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism
(Plainview, 1969), pp. 128-39,
172-79.
29. Berger, “Miracles and the Natural Order in Nahmanides,”
Ramban: Explo­
rations,
esp. p. 111. See also I. Unna,
R. Mosheh ben Nahman,
pp. 6-8; B.
Septimus, “Open Rebuke,” p. 28, and cf. his
Hispano-Jewish Culture in Tran­
sition,
pp. 109-11; I. Ta-Shema,
R. Zerahyah ha-Levi Ba'al ha-Ma’or u-Venei
Hugo
(Jerusalem, 1992), p. 144, n. 32.
30. On the degree o f Ramban’s familiarity with Arabic, see Raphael Jospe,
“Ha-Ramban veha-Aravit,”
Tarbiz
57 (1988): 67-93, and the literature cited
in nn. 2-6; Septimus, “Open Rebuke,” p. 12, n. 4; K. Kahana’s introduction
to his edition o f Ritva’s
Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
pp. 28-37.
31. See, e.g., Kahana’s introduction to
Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
pp. 16-17.