Tag Archives: Ramban

The Questions Rashi and Ramban Taught Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Eruvin 13b tells us a bat kol, a Heavenly Voice, told us how to rule between the houses of Shammai and Hillel. The bat kol said elu va-elu divrei Elokim chayyim, these and these are the words of the living Gd, והלכה כדברי בית הלל, but normative practice follows Beit Hillel. Although there has been some debate about whether a Heavenly Voice can establish ...

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Living Spaces

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Mas’ei: Living Spaces The last parsha of Bamidbar opens by listing the places the Jews had encamped along their forty-year journey. Rashi here and Rambam in the Guide for the Perplexed (3;50) offer reasons for the choice to include the whole list [in brief, Rashi thought the list shows Hashem’s compassion while administering the punishment of forty years of wandering, and Rambam ...

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Making Rules and Misusing Them

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Matot: Making Rules and Misusing Them Parshat Matot opens with rules of vows, and Ramban lays out some central differences between a vow (the common translation for neder) and an oath (shevu’ah; as with all translations, the exact meaning matters less than ensuring we know the full connotations of the word in the original language, which Ramban ...

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Permutations of Power

by R. Gidon Rothstein Speaking Truth to Power Last time, we saw Ramban argue Pinchas helped the Jews by stopping the plague. Hashem had wanted the judges to calm the divine wrath which was fueling the plague by trying and punishing the demonstrably guilty, but Zimri interfered. Once the judges were prevented from doing their job, the plague would have ...

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Death and War

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Nature of the Impurity of Death My temerity in thinking I can communicate Ramban’s ideas briefly and accessibly depends on my selection process, where I often leave out deep and important claims of Ramban’s I do not know how to convey. To stretch myself a bit, let’s discuss his understanding of 19;2, where the Torah ...

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Silence, Sanctity, and Separateness

by R. Gidon Rothstein The rebellion of Korach and ensuing events take up most of Pinchas. Since the rebellion itself has garnered much valuable and insightful discussion, I have chosen places where Ramban discussed ancillary aspects, to tread ground not overly overrun with others’ steps. Aharon’s Silence Korach and his group issue their challenge to both Moshe and Aharon, but 16;4 says Moshe ...

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Our National Nadir, the Spies

by R. Gidon Rothstein John F. Kennedy’s characterization of failure as a lonely orphan explains Ramban’s surprise at how Rashi ascribes to Moshe the idea of sending spies to Israel. Hashem says “shelach lecha anashim,” and Rashi picks up on the lecha, you, to say Hashem gave grudging acceptance. Which would seem to put Moshe in the wrong, since he tells ...

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