Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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69
R. Moses b. Nahman
W ID E SCO PE
In the last two decades, scholars have made great strides in
describing more precisely the extraordinary range of 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 of Nahmanides. Nahmanides
authored very few distinct kabbalistic treatises.10 His kabbalah
was integrated within his other 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 kab­
balah. Was he attempting thereby to conceal his kabbalistic teach­
ings or was he advocating a particular approach to the study of
Jewish mysticism?
Moshe Idel has argued that Nahmanides’ relatively meager out­
put in terms of kabbalistic literature is tied to the fact that Nah­
manides 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 suggested
not yet been exhausted. See, e.g., Moshe Idel, “Maimonides and Kabbalah,”
Studies in Maimonides,
ed. I. Twersky (Cambridge, Mass., 1992), pp. 37-38, 4-i,
44 -45 , regarding esotericism, and D. Berger (below, n. 18), pp. 107-9, regarding
Creation.
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 sulPesegesi biblica di Nahmanide,”
Revista Biblica
33 (1985): 229—43;
“Senso letterale e senso cabalistico nel commento di Mosheh b. Nahman
all’espisodio del 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^t
(1987): 89 -104 ; “Mistica e filosofia; la mediazione di Nahmanide
nella polemica sugli scritti di Maimonide/’^/SG 5 (1987): 227-56.
10.
See Israel Ta-Shma,
Ha-Ramban ve-Yetzirato
(Jerusalem, 1967) [a
bibliography of Ramban’s writings that also includes selected medieval and modern
responses and descriptions, prepared in conjunction with the seven hundredth
anniversary o f Ramban’s ‘aliyah], entries 32-34; Gershom Scholem,
Ha-Kabbalah
bi-Gerona
(Jerusalem, 1964), pp. 12 -15 ; 255 -65 ; E. Gottleib,
Mehkarim,
pp.
88-95, 69-70; Moshe Idel, “W e Have No Kabbalistic Tradition on This,”
Ramban:
Explorations,
pp. 51-52 .