Page 82 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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and Jewish mysticism, it is hardly surprising that Nahmanides,
among other members of the Gerona school of kabbalah, made
particular use of Neoplatonic material.28 Far more striking are
the facts, demonstrated by David Berger, that Nahmanides em­
ployed rigorous argumentation 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 of
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
oughly, possibly in its Arabic original.30He 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 unsuccessful, and as a
work of Jewish Aristotelianism that read into biblical passages
and rabbinic formulations ideas which Nahmanides did not believe
28. See, e.g., G. Scholem, Ha-Kabbalah bi-Gerona, pp. 123 -40 ; Sarah O.
Heller-Willensky, “Al ‘ha-Nivra ha-Rishon’ be-Reshit ha-Kabbalah u-Mekorotav
Mehkarim be-Hagut Yehudit,
ed. S.O. Willensky and M. Idel
(Jerusalem, 1989), pp. 266-72; Michael Oron, “Kawim le-Torat he-Nefesh veha-
Gilgul ba-Kabbalah ba-Me’ah ha-Yod Gimmel,”
Mehkarim be-Hagut Yehudit,
277-83 ; Avraham Lifshitz, “Le-Torat ha-Beri’ah shel R. Mosheh ben Nahman,”
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Neoplatonism o f R. Azriel of Gerona and R. Moses Nahmanides,” (unpublished
paper presented at the annual conference of 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
Perush ha-
Aggadot le-R. Azriel,
ed. Isaiah Tishby (Jerusalem, 1945), p. 83, and cf. Alexander
Studies in Religious Philosophy andMysticism
(Plainview, 1969), pp. 128-39,
172-79 .
29. Berger, “Miracles and the Natural Order in Nahmanides,”
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 Transition,
pp. 1 0 9 - 1 1 ; I. Ta-Shma,
R. Zerahyah ha-Levi Ba‘al he-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,
“He-Ramban veha-‘Aravit,”
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 of Ritva’s
Sefer ha-Zikkaron,
pp. 28-37.