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67
R. Moses b. Nahman
their relationship to the Maimonidean corpus and their proclivities
in Jewish thought.2The sheer volume of Nahmanides’ protean
oeuvre, which included extensive talmudic commentaries, halakhic
critiques
(hassagot),
monographs and responsa, as well as a unique
Torah commentary and sermonic expositions (<
derashot
), could not
be gainsaid. Nahmanides’ works had an undeniable impact upon
subsequent generations of rabbinic scholars. Perhaps most
significant, Nahmanides appeared to be a complex, multifaceted
thinker, whose corpus eluded facile or even neat definition and
description.3 Moreover, Nahmanides consistently expressed
himself with humility, despite his diverse accomplishments, which
also included training in the medical sciences.4 His role in the
disputation at Barcelona in 1263 was seen as an affirmation of his
prowess as a scholar, his leadership qualities, and his ability to
interact effectively with Jews and Christians alike.5
Nahmanides’ role in the disputation at Barcelona and as a
2. See Isadore Twersky,
Rabad of Posquieres
(revised edition, Philadelphia,
1980), pp. 56-59, 84-85, 183-90 , 348.
3. See Graetz, pp. 122 -31 , and Chaim Tchernowitz,
Toledot ha-Posekim,
v.
2 (New York, 1947), pp. 10 6 - i7 . R. Hayyim Yosef David Azulai (Hida),
Shem
ha-Gedolim, ma‘arekhet gedolim,
s.v.
R. Moses b. Nahman
, described Ramban as
“mal'akh melitz tov lal ba-rishonim.”
Two articles by Joseph Perles, “Ueber den
Geist des Commentars des R. Moses ben Nachman zum Pentateuch und iiber
sein Verhaltniss zum Pentateuch-Commentar Raschi’,”
Monatsschriftfiir Geschichte
und Wissenschaft desJudenthumsl
(1858): 81 -97 , 117—36, and “Nachtrage iiber
R. Moses ben Nachman,” [which includes a critical transcription o f Nahmanides’
famous letter to the rabbis of northern France in defense o f Maimonides]
MGWJ
9 (1860): 184-95 , have been cited and lauded consistendy by modern scholarship
for their insights into Ramban’s methodologies and intellectual hierarchy. Note
also Solomon Schechter’s biographical portrait, “Nachmanides,”7ra;wA
Quarterly
Review
5 (1895): 7 8 -12 8 [=
Studies in Judaism
(1st Series, repr. Philadelphia,
1945), pp. 99 -141].
4. On Ramban’s attitudes toward medicine and science, see J.O. Leibowitz,
“Netunim Refu'iyyim be-Sefer Torat ha-Adam le-R. Mosheh ben Nahman,”
Koroth
8 (1893): 20 9 -15 ; David Horowitz, “Rashba’s Attitude Towards Science
and its Limits,”
Torah U-MaddaJournal
3 (1991-92): 51-82; and Y.T. Langermann,
“Acceptance and Devaluation: Nahmanides’ Attitude Towards Scien
ce,”Journal
ofJewish Thought and Philosophy
1 (1992): 223-45 . See also M. Idel (below, n.
10), pp. 6 1 -6 2 ; E. Wolfson (below, n. 13), p. 118, n. 45; B. Septimus (below, n.
18), pp. 24 -25 , n. 45; and cf. I. Twersky,
Introduction to the Code ofMaimonides
(New Haven, 1980), p. 497. For Ramban’s views on the practice o f medicine as a
livelihood, see Samuel Kottek, “Refu’ah ve-Halakhah be-Sefer Hasidim,”
Assia
10 (1984): 37-42.
5. Note the claim by Simon Dubnow,
Divrei Yemei Am Olam
(Tel Aviv,
1968), v. 5 p. 66, that Nahmanides’ “report on the disputation at Barcelona has