Some thoughts about Nachmanides

Among the many things that I do each week are the reviews that I write for amazon and which I place on amazon. (Since I was a child, I have been unable to do just one thing at a time. For example, I went to Talmudical Academy in Baltimore since kindergarten, including high school, but  I also went to another high school at night for a couple of years and took additional courses in math and sciences. While all other students ended high school with 16 subjects learnt, I had 19.) The following is a brief review I wrote today on “Ramban: Writings and Discourses” and placed on amazon. 

 

 

Although he was a mystic and although many of his mystical ideas would be rejected if understood by people who praise him, many of his ideas have entered into mainstream Judaism. Most Jews prefer him over the rationalist Maimonides, although they do not understand Maimonides either.

 

Nachmanides commentary on the Torah is highly respected by them. Much in it is clever, perceptive, thought-provoking, and some ideas and interpretations of the biblical text would be accepted even by Maimonides, but other ideas, such as God having a human body, God being present and involved in all that occurs on earth, God creates unseen miracles on earth daily, God does not care for the welfare and pain of animals, imaginative midrashim are not imaginative at all, nor are they parables to teach proper behavior as Maimonides maintained, but the record of actual events not recorded in the Torah but passed on from God to the Israelites, would not.

 

Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel is a recognized and highly respected translator and interpreter of Nachmanides. He translated and interpreted Nachmanides Commentary on the Torah brilliantly. Here, in two volumes he does the same with nine other writings by this Spanish Jewish sage. Besides the easy to read translations, he gives an informative introduction to each document and supplements the documents with notes that give the sources for the sage’s statements and which explain them when necessary.

 

Some of the documents express Nachmanides’ theology, such as “The Law of the eternal is Perfect,” but others, such as “The Disputation at Barcelona,” is Nachmanides’ recollection of his debate with the apostate Jew Pablo before the king, in which he maintains that he won the debate, while Pablo insisted that he was victorious. The debate aroused a furor and Nachmanides ran for safety sake from Spain to Israel. He was about seventy-years-old at the time.

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