Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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R. Moses b. Nahman
had never, in Septimus’ view, accepted “the absolute authority of
all aggadah.”22 Wolfson, by asserting that use of aggadah was
critical to Ramban’s understanding of kabbalah rather than main­
taining that Ramban, as a kabbalist, had to accept all aggadic
statements as binding, is also able to integrate Ramban’s rejection
of certain aggadic passages in his Torah commentary as well as
Ramban’s stance concerning aggadah at Barcelona.23The position
taken by Nahmanides in his Torah commentary concerning the
fallibility of the Patriarchs appears to be particularly bold in light
of his involvement in the Jewish-Christian debate24Moreover,
Shlomo Pines has argued for Christian influences on Nahmanides’
treatment of the Creation story, as did Gershom Scholem.25
Related to the nature of Ramban’s kabbalah is his attitude toward
philosophy. Despite the claim of a thirteenth-century philosopher,
R. Zerahyah Hen, that Nahmanides did not display competence
in philosophical studies,26 as well as statements by Nahmanides to
the effect that philosophers of his day had missed the mark,27
Ramban was familiar with large tracts of medieval Jewish and
general philosophical literature and integrated them effectively
into his corpus. Given the affinity between Neoplatonic thought
22. Septimus, “Open Rebuke,” pp. 20-22. See also Marvin Fox, “Nahmanides
on the Status o f Aggadot: Perspectives on the Disputation at Barcelona, 1263,”
Journal ofJewish Studies4Q
(1989): 95 -109 .
23. See above, n. 20.
24. See David Berger, “On the Morality o f the Patriarchs in Jewish Polemic
and Exegesis,”
Understanding Scripture,
ed. Clemens Thoma and Michael
Wyschogrod (New York, 1989), pp. 49-53.
25. See Shlomo Pines, “Divrei ha-Ramban ‘al Adam ha-Rishon be-Gan Eden
le-Or Perushim Aherim ‘al Bereshit Bet ve-Gimmel,”
Galut Ahar Golah,
Aharon Mirsky et al. (Jerusalem, 1988), pp. 159-64. See also Gershom Scholem,
Origins of the Kabbalah
(Princeton, 1987), p. 449; Bezalel Safran, “Rabbi Azriel
and Nahmanides,” p. 106; and A. Funkenstein (above, n. 13), pp. 35—59 [=129-50].
26. See Moritz Gudemann,
Ha-Torah veha-Hayyim
(Warsaw, 1899), v. 2, pp.
134-35 , 150-52 ; Septimus, “Open Rebuke,” p. 25, n. 45; Aviezer Ravitzky,
Da‘at ha-Makom
(Jerusalem, 1991), pp.153-54 . Cf. Ritva,
Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
46-48, 55-56, 86-88.
27. See Scholem,
p. 403, and Idel, “Maimonides and Kabbalah,” pp.
37-38, n. 16.