Moshe Ben Nachman
the Rambam, the
Ramban was probably the greatest and most influential of the Rishonim.
Born in Gerona, he remained there most of his life.
Like the Rambam, he was equally distinguished in both Halacha
and Hashkafa. His contributions
to scholarship covered every area: his Talmudic commentaries combined the
French school of analysis with the Spanish emphasis on halacha and every
word he wrote was scrupulously examined in all of Spain; he wrote major
works defending Alfasi against the critique of Baal HaMaor and Ravad and
Bahag against Rambams criticisms of his classification of mitzvos;
he wrote masterful works of halacha such as Toras HaAdam on the laws of
death and mourning including a philosophical section, Shaar HaGmul; he
committed to writing derashos he had given on fundamental topics such a Rosh
Hashana, Koheles and Torah; he wrote an account of his public
disputation in Barcelona with the convert Pablo Christiani in j1263; he
composed poetry, but probably the most popular of his works is the
Commentary on Chumash
which he modestly directed to calm the minds of those weary of galus,
studying on Shabbos and
Commentary is multi-dimensional including all methods of interpretation from
simple pshat to esoteric Kabbala. The
Ramban is not satisfied with explaining the verse at hand; he is concerned
with the overall structure of the various chapters and their
interconnections. Many of his
explanations have become basic principles of Judaism.
The Commentary is available in English translation.
Ramban held that the mitzva of settling Eretz Yisrael applies even today and
ultimately settled there himself during the last years of his life.
When he arrived in Jerusalem there was hardly a minyan and he wrote
that what had been the most sacred is now the most desecrated.
He organized a minyan and erected a synagogue.
the centuries his view on the mitzvah of settling the Land has been most
influential. He also held that
even mitzvos which were obligatory outside of the Holy Land did not achieve
the level of shleimus as when performed within Eretz Yisrael.
Looking back at the chaotic state of the Land during the periods of
non-Jewish control, he interpreted Leviticus 26:32 as promising that
Israels enemies will be unable to settle the Land.
As part of the mitzva of settling the Land he included the admonition
that we not forsake the Land to others of the nations
Recognizing the anguish people experience in everyday life without apparent explanation, he composed a major Commentary on the Book of Job.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.