Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Ramban, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, on Jewish Love and tackling the medieval Church


The Ramban Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

( information from JewishEncyclopedia.com)

For video presentation, go to:


MOSES BEN NAḤMAN GERONDI (RaMBaN; known also as Naḥmanides and Bonastruc da Porta):

By: Joseph JacobsWilhelm BacherIsaac Broydé


Spanish Talmudist, exegete, and physician; born at Gerona (whence his name "Gerondi") in 1194 .Besides rabbinics, Moses studied & practiced medicine…extensive knowledge of philosophy. Just past puberty, began to be counted among the Talmudical authorities of his time. In his sixteenth year he commenced to compose compendiums of some parts of the rabbinical law… To him the wisdom of the ancients was unquestionable, and their utterances were to be neither doubted nor criticized.

He lived in Catalonia, hence, his involvement in the Disputation of Barcelona, which he won, and as a result, was exiled. Moses left Aragon and sojourned for three years somewhere in Castile or in southern France. In 1267 he emigrated to Palestine, and, after a short stay in Jerusalem, settled at Acre, where he was very active in spreading Jewish learning, which was at that time very much neglected in the Holy Land. … wrote the greatest of his works, commentary on the Pentateuch. Although surrounded by friends and pupils, Moses keenly felt the pangs of exile. "I left my family, I forsook my house. There, with my sons and daughters, the sweet, dear children I brought up at my knees, I left also my soul. My heart and my eyes will dwell with them forever."

Moses died after having passed the age of seventy, and his remains were interred at Haifa, by the grave of Jehiel of Paris. died in Palestine about 1270



His Perspective

the rapid progress made by Greco-Arabic philosophy among the Jews of Spain and Provence after the appearance of the "Moreh Nebukim" gave rise to a tendency to allegorize Biblical narratives and to refuse credit to the miraculous element in the Talmud. Moses strove, against , went to the other extreme…

Attitude Toward Maimonides.

[Note-refused to be part of “ cancel culture “ of his day.]

However, the great respect he professed for Maimonides … led him to assume the rôle of a conciliator. In a letter addressed to the French rabbis he draws attention to the virtues of Maimonides . . . As to the "Guide," it was intended not for those of unshaken belief, but for those who had been led astray by the works of Aristotle and Galen.


Commentary on the Pentateuch.

Opening of the Book of Leviticus in a Mikraot gedolot editon that features the major Bible Commentators. The Ramban, at the bottom , dominates the page.

His chef-d'œuvre. … Moses brought into play his peculiar genius, his warm and tender disposition, and his mystical visions. His exposition, rendered in a most attractive style and intermingled with haggadic and cabalistic interpretations, is based upon careful philology and original study of the Bible. . . .While Maimonides endeavored to reduce the miracles of the Bible to the level of natural phenomena, Moses emphasized them, declaring that "no man can share in the Torah of our teacher Moses unless he believes that all our affairs, whether they concern masses or individuals, are miraculously controlled, and that nothing can be attributed to nature or the order of the world." Next to belief in miracles Moses places three other beliefs, which are, according to him, the foundations of Judaism, namely, the belief in creation out of nothing, in the omniscience of God, and in divine providence.

Moses' share in the development of the Cabala, though universally recognized, was rather moral than literal; he sanctioned it by the great authority of his name, but not by any contributive activity.

He finds, In accounts of the Torah hints of the later history of man. Thus the account of the six days of Creation constitutes a prophecy of the events of the following six thousand years, and the seventh day is typical of the Messianic millennium. Jacob and Esau are the prototypes of Israel and Rome, and the battle of Moses and Joshua with the Amalekites is a prophecy of the war which Elijah and the Messiah ben Joseph will wage against Edom (Rome) before the arrival of the Messiah ben David, which was fixed by the commentator for the year 1358.

Here is an example

On Love Your Neighbor: Compare

MAIMONIDES HILCHOT DEOT: LAWS OF COUNSEL It is a mitzvah for every human to love each and everyone from Israel as he loves his own body.


NACHMANIDES ON "BE LOVING TO YOUR NEIGHBOR" The reason behind, "be-loving to your neighbor (as one) like yourself" is in fact an exaggeration for no human's heart can accept loving one's fellow as one loves one's own soul, and furthermore Rabbi Akiva already learned that "your life comes before the life of your friend." It means that it is a mitzvah to love one's friend through all the good things that he loves himself, and it is possible that since the verse says "to your neighbor" (instead of merely stating "loving one's neighbor like yourself") The verse is comparing this love to the commandment to love the sojourner (Leviticus 19:34 where it says that you should be-loving to him as yourself) i.e. to make the love of both comparable in his mind. . . .


Views on Marriage- Iggeret Hakodesh- It is either his work ( earlier assumption) influenced by him.

Various candidates:   Rabbi Joseph ben Abraham Gikatilla … Rabbi Joseph of Shushan (thirteenth century… Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona (d. 1238 or 1245), one of the significant kabbalists of the thirteenth century. Or anonymous author and its date to approximately 1280.

It was copied in entirety by Rabbi Yisrael Elnekaveh (d. 1391in  Menorat ha-Meor, an attribution to the Ramban.From there , recopied widely.See below- Yemenite manuscript Printed text with German translation

Yemenite Handwritten copy of Menorat Hamaor

Old German and Hebrw printed copy of the same

The basic notion of the Iggeret ha-Kodesh is that sexual relations between husband and wife are sacred and that the state of both husband and wife during intimacy determines the character of the future child. The child’s nature and essence are determined by its parents’ spiritual consciousness and the holiness of their intentions at the time of conception.

Thus, Rambam , like Aristotle:Guide, Pt2, Ch 36

There must be an absence of the lower desires and appetites, of the seeking after pleasure in eating, drinking, and cohabitation: and, in short, every pleasure connected with the sense of touch. (Aristotle correctly says that this sense is a disgrace to us, since we possess it only in virtue of our being animals)

Thus counter, by the Iggeret Hakodesh:

“The matter is not as Rabbi Moses of blessed memory thought and believed in his Guide to the Perplexed, when he praised Aristotle’s statements. … Heaven forbid! Matters are not as the Greek work states, since this work contains subtle traces of heresy. If that heretic Greek had believed that the world is renewed by intent, he would not have said that. But we, who possess the holy Torah, believe that the blessed God created everything as His wisdom decreed and created nothing shameful or ugly. For if we say that copulation is shameful, then the sexual organs are contemptible. But God, blessed be He, created them according to His word: ‘And you established them….”

If you want to see how this was applied, see the movie Yentl or A Stranger Among Us where it is quoted.



Disputation at Barcelona, 1263.

1263, in the presence of King James of Aragon, with the apostate Pablo Christiani. The latter, failing to make proselytes among the Jews of Provence, to whom he had been sent by his general Raymond de Penyaforte, requested King James to order Moses to take part in a public disputation. Relying upon the reserve his adversary would be forced to maintain through fear of wounding the feelings of the Christian dignitaries, Pablo assured the king that he could prove the Messianic claims of Jesus from the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. Moses complied with the order of the king, but stipulated that complete freedom of speech should be granted, and for four days (July 20-24) debated with Pablo Christiani in the presence of the king, the court, and many ecclesiastical dignitaries…

Views on the Messiah.

As the disputation turned in favor of Moses the Jews of Barcelona, fearing the resentment of the Dominicans, entreated him to discontinue; but the king, whom Naḥmanides had acquainted with the apprehensions of the Jews, desired him to proceed. The controversy was therefore resumed, and concluded in a complete victory for Moses, who was dismissed by the king with a gift of three hundred maravedis as a mark of his respect.

The Dominicans claimed victory and he felt constrained to publish a response ..Pablo selected certain passages …as blasphemies against Christianity and denounced to his general Raymond de Penyaforte. A capital charge was then instituted, lodged with the king. … Moses admitted that he had stated many things against Christianity, but he had written nothing which he had not used in his disputation in the presence of the king, who had granted him freedom of speech. The justice of his defense was recognized by the king and the commission, but to satisfy the Dominicans Moses was sentenced to exile for two years and his pamphlet was condemned to be burned. He was also fined, but this was remitted as a favor to Benveniste de Porta, Naḥmanides' brother (Jacobs, "Sources," p. 130). The Dominicans, however, found this punishment too mild and, through Pope Clement IV., they seem to have succeeded in turning the two years' exile into perpetual banishment.

So now, here is a segment from a dramatization:Originally a play, then adapted to British TV



In 1263, King James I of Aragon organizes a debate between representatives of Judaism and Christianity regarding whether or not Jesus was the Messiah.Director: Geoffrey Sax

Writer: Hyam Maccoby- Jewsih Acadmician and Librarian at Leo Baeck College

Stars: Alan DobieBernard HeptonChristopher Lee |

https://youtu.be/lIyhC0vnRYc for full video

Selected clips

Intro Rabbi Moses https://youtu.be/lIyhC0vnRYc?t=424

To 8:45

What about the Talmud  https://youtu.be/lIyhC0vnRYc?t=734

To 15:09 The Talmud as non binding, Jewish key principals open to interpretation

Has the Messiah Come? https://youtu.be/lIyhC0vnRYc?t=948

To 18:54 not taken literally

The proof of history


to 27:50 Messiah will come only when the world is prepared

 Fear of repercussion against the Jews by the Dominicans for revenge


stop at 37:50 a side discussion between the Rabbi and the king

The King justifies his support of Nachmanides:


A final note as the rabbi leaves, exiled by the Dominicans and the Pope because he won the dispute:





R Yehudah Halevi- Poet and anti-Philosophy Philosopher, Par Excellence


The Second in a Series on the Un-Maimoneans: ibn Gabirol, Halevi, and Ramban

Statue of Judah HaLevi in Caesaria

Yehudah Halevi- Poet and anti-Philosophy Philosopher, Par Excellence

For the video recording of this discussion, go to:




Judah ben Samuel Halevi (c. 1075–1141) was the premier Hebrew poet of his generation in medieval Spain. ..nearly 800 poems, both secular and religious… sought to develop a reasoned defense of the Jewish religion, comprehensive education in both Hebrew and Arabic sources, encompassing the Bible, rabbinic literature, grammar, Arabic and Hebrew poetry, philosophy, theology, and medicine. 

Like the Rambam, Maimonides, who lived half-a -century later, he was both a trained physician and well versed in the study of Talmud and  philosophy, including the increasingly popular Aristotle. Unlike the Rambam, who adopted the methods of Aristotelian reason wholeheartedly, Halevi made a 180 degree turn against it.

In his last years, he made his way to the Land of Israel to settle in his last years. He died there, it is said, at the gates of Jerusalem.

 It is related that as he came near Jerusalem, overpowered by the sight of the Holy City, he sang his most beautiful elegy, the celebrated "Zionide," "Zion ha-lo Tish'ali." At that instant he was ridden down and killed by an Arab, who dashed forth from a gate (Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya, "Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," ed. Venice, p. 40b).


Samples of poems & musical versions

 Longing for Jerusalem


Eti Ankari sings

: יְפֵה נוֹף מְשׂוֹשׂ תֵּבֵל קִרְיָה לְמֶלֶךְ רָב לְךָ נִכְסְפָה נַפְשִׁי מִפַּאֲתֵי מַעְרָב הֲמוֹן רַחֲמַי נִכְמָר כִּי אֶזְכְּרָה קֶדֶם כְּבוֹדֵךְ אֲשֶׁר גָּלָה וְנָוֵךְ אֲשֶׁר חָרַב וּמִי יִתְּנֵנִי עַל כַּנְפֵי נְשָׁרִים עַד אֲרַוֶּה בְדִמְעָתִי עֲפָרֵךְ וְיִתְעָרָב דְּרַשְׁתִּיךְ וְאִם מַלְכֵּךְ אֵין בָּךְ וְאִם בִּמְקוֹם צְרִי גִּלְעֲדֵךְ נָחָשׁ שָׂרָף וְגַם עַקְרָב הֲלֹא אֶת אֲבָנַיִךְ אֲחוֹנֵן וְאֶשָּׁקֵם וְטַעַם רְגָבַיִךְ לְפִי מִדְּבַשׁ יֶעְרַב



Beautiful heights, city of a great King,

From the western coast my desire burns towards thee.

Pity and tenderness burst in me, remembering.

Thy former glories, thy temple now broken stones.

I wish I could fly to thee on the wings of an eagle

And mingle my tears with thy dust.

I have sought thee, love, though the King is not there

And instead of Gilead’s balm, snakes and scorpions.

Let me fall on thy broken stones and tenderly kiss them—

The taste of thy dust will be sweeter than honey to me.



Longing for the Homeland of Zion


USC Baroque Sinfonia, directed by Adam Knight Gilbert, March 2019. Adam Gilbert illustrates the interplay between Eastern and Western influences by joining a solo vocal melody in the style of Sephardic cantillation with an instrumental ritornello reminiscent of seventeenth-century Spanish compositional style.

Libi bamizrach- My Heart is in the East

לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מַעֲרָב

אֵיךְ אֶטְעֲמָה אֵת אֲשֶׁר אֹכַל וְאֵיךְ יֶעֱרָב

אֵיכָה אֲשַׁלֵּם נְדָרַי וָאֱסָרַי, בְּעוֹד

צִיּוֹן בְּחֶבֶל אֱדוֹם וַאֲנִי בְּכֶבֶל עֲרָב

יֵקַל בְּעֵינַי עֲזֹב כָּל טוּב סְפָרַד, כְּמוֹ

יֵקַר בְּעֵינַי רְאוֹת עַפְרוֹת דְּבִיר נֶחֱרָב.



 ------- English translation of Hebrew text: My heart is in the East, yet I am in the utmost West. How can I taste the food I eat and enjoy its flavor? How will I keep my vows and my bonds, while Zion remains in the chains of Edom, and I in the chains of Arabia? It seems as easy in my eyes to leave the splendor of Spain, as it would be glorious to see the dust of the Temple’s ruin.



A plea for the end of Exile

Tziyon Halo Tishali- Zion-Do You Not Wonder about your Captives?


Ofira Gluska

For the Love of Shabbat


Shuli Nathan

עַל אַהֲבָתֶךָ אֶשְׁתֶּה גְבִיעִי שָׁלוֹם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי מַעֲשֶׂה לָךְ כַּעֲבָדִים אִם אֶעֱבֹד בָּהֶם אֶשְׂבַּע נְדוּדִים כֻּלָּם בְּעֵינַי הֵם יָמִים אֲחָדִים מֵאַהֲבָתִי בָךָ יוֹם שַׁעֲשׁוּעִי אֵצֵא בְּיוֹם רִאשׁוֹן לַעְשׂוֹת מְלָאכָה לַעֲרוֹךְ לְיוֹם שַׁבַּת הַמַּעֲרָכָה כִּי הָאֱלֹהִים שָׁם שָׂם הַבְּרָכָה אַתָּה לְבַד חֶלְקִי מִכָּל יְגִיעִי מָאוֹר לְיוֹם קָדְשִׁי מֵאוֹר קְדוֹשִׁי יָרֵחַ וְכוֹכָבִים קִנְּאוּ לְשִׁמְשִׁי מַה לִי לְיוֹם שֵׁנִי אוֹ לַשְּׁלִישִׁי יַסְתִּיר מְאוֹרוֹתָיו יוֹם הָרְבִיעִי אֶשְׁמַע מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב מִיּוֹם חֲמִישִׁי כִּי מָחֳרָת יִהְיֶה נֹפֶשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי בֹּקֶר לְעַבְדוּתִי עֶרֶב לְחָפְשִׁי קָרוּא אֱלֵי שֻׁלְחַן מַלְכִּי וְרוֹעִי אֶמְצָא בְּיוֹם שִׁשִּׁי נַפְשִׁי שְׂמֵחָה כִּי קָרְבָה אֵלַי עֵת הַמְּנוּחָה אִם נָע וְנָד אֵלֵךְ לִמְצֹא רְוָחָה עֶרֶב וְאֶשְׁכַּח כָּל נוֹדִי וְנוֹעִי מַה נָעֲמָה לִי עֵת בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת לִרְאוֹת פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת פָּנִים חֲדָשׁוֹת בֹּאוּ בְתַפּוּחִים הַרְבּוּ אֲשִׁישׁוֹת זֶה יוֹם מְנוּחִי זֶה דּוֹדִי וְרֵעִי

For your Love, I will drink with my goblet.Shalom to you, Seventh Day.The six days of work are your servants. He goes to recount each day in preparation for the Seventh. …How I delight, at the Sunset, to see the face of Shabbat. A refreshed face. Come with apples, multiply sweet fruits, this is my rest, this is my beloved and my friend.

 then, some romantic love


He built his work of philosophy around the accounts of a Jewish kingdom to the East:

The Story of the Khazars


The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people with a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that in the late 6th century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea and Kazakhstan.[10]  Astride a major artery of commerce between Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Khazaria became one of the foremost trading empires of the medieval world, commanding the western marches of the Silk Road and playing a key commercial role as a crossroad between China, the Middle East and Kievan Rus'.[13][14] For some three centuries (c. 650 – 965) the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus. Eventually, they were defeated by the Kievan Russians to the north and faded away.


At some point, the royalty adopted Judaism, perhaps as a way of keeping themselves out of the reach of both Moslems, invading from the south, and Christians, established in Byzantium to the west. The political theorist, noted for his denunciation of the Stalinist show trials, Arthur Koestler, posited that Ashkenazic Jews were really “The Thirteenth Tribe.” He believed that if he proved Jews were not Jews, we would disappear, and so would anti-Semitism! There have been theories that they may have been the core of Ashkenazic Jewry, or even the ancestors of the Crimean Jews, but DNA evidence points to the contrary.



Khazar warrior



Judah Halevi used the reports of this powerful Jewish kingdom as a stage for his philosophical defense of Judaism against philosophy.


The Message of the Kuzari


Sefer Kuzari  Book of Refutation and Proof on Behalf of the Despised Religion

ספר הכוזרי  https://www.sefaria.org/Sefer_Kuzari

The King of the Khazars  inquired of a philosopher concerning his religious persuasion.

The philosopher ( הַפִּילוֹסוֹף) replied: There is no favor or dislike in [the nature of] God, because He is above desire and intention. A desire intimates a want in the person who feels it, and not till it is satisfied does he become (so to speak) complete. If it remains unfulfilled, he lacks completion. In a similar way He is, in the opinion of philosophers, above the knowledge of individuals, because the latter change with the times, whilst there is no change in God's knowledge. He, therefore, does not know thee, much less thy thoughts and actions, nor does He listen to thy prayers, or see thy movements. If philosophers say that He created thee, they only use a metaphor, because He is the Cause of causes in the creation of all creatures, but not because this was His intention from the beginning. He never created man. . . Everything is reduced to a Prime Cause.


the Khazari: Your words are convincing, yet they do not correspond to what I wish to find. I know already that my soul is pure and that my actions are calculated to gain the favor of God. . . .,

. . . one might expect the gift of prophecy quite common among philosophers, considering their deeds, their knowledge, . This proves that the divine influence as well as the souls have a secret which is not identical with what you say, O Philosopher.

After this the Khazari said to himself: I will ask the Christians and Muslims, since one of these persuasions is, no doubt, the God-pleasing one. As regards the Jews, I am satisfied that they are of low station, few in number, and generally despised.

The Christian Scholastic (לחָכָם מֵחַכְמֵי אֱדוֹם)replied: I believe that all things are created, whilst the Creator is eternal; that He created the whole world in six days; that all mankind sprang from Adam, and after him from Noah . . .  [I believe] in all that is written in the Torah and the records of the Children of Israel. . . . the Son of God, and He is the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. …Our laws and regulations are derived from the Apostle Simon, and from ordinations taken from the Torah, which we study. Its truth is indisputable, …it came from God. …

 Then said the Khazari: I see here no logical conclusion; nay, logic rejects most of what thou sayest which they would not believe if they only heard of them without seeing them…. My duty is to investigate further.


The Doctor of Islam חָכָם מֵחַכְמֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל said: We acknowledge the unity and eternity of God, and that all men are derived from Adam-Noah. . . .. Our prophet is the Seal of the prophets, who abrogated every previous law, and invited all nations to embrace Islam

 Said to him the Khazari:

If any one is to be guided in matters divine, and to be convinced that God speaks to man, whilst he considers it improbable, he must be convinced of it by means of generally known facts, which allow no refutation, and particularly imbue him with the belief that God has spoken to man. Although your book may be a miracle, as long as it is written in Arabic, a non-Arab, as I am, cannot perceive its miraculous character; and even if it were read to me, I could not distinguish between it and any other book written in the Arabic language.. . .

The Doctor: Is not our Book full of the stories of Moses and the Children of Israel? No one can deny what He did to Pharaoh, how He divided the sea, saved those who enjoyed His favour, but drowned those who had aroused His wrath. . . . [Add to this] what happened previously, viz. the Flood, the destruction of the people of Lot; is this not so well known that no suspicion of deceit and imagination is possible?


Al Khazari: Indeed, I see myself compelled to ask the Jews, because they are the relic of the Children of Israel. For I see that they constitute in themselves the evidence for the divine law on earth.


The Rabbi חָכָם מֵחַכְמֵי הַיְּהוּדִים also  הֶחָבֵר replied: I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who led the children of Israel out of Egypt with signs and miracles; who fed them in the desert and gave them the land, after having made them traverse the sea and the Jordan in a miraculous way; who sent Moses with His law, . . . Our belief is comprised in the Torah--a very large domain.

Al Khazari: I had not intended to ask any Jew, because I am aware of their reduced condition and narrow-minded views, as their misery left them nothing commendable. Now shouldst thou, O Jew, not have said that thou believest in the Creator of the world, its Governor and Guide, and in Him who created and keeps thee, and such attributes which serve as evidence for every believer, and for the sake of which He pursues justice in order to resemble the Creator in His wisdom and justice?

The Rabbi: That which thou dost express is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts ) הַדָּת הַהֶקֵּשִׁית הַמִּנְהָגִית(

The Rabbi. . .. In the same strain spoke Moses to Pharaoh, when he told him: 'The God of the Hebrews sent me to thee,' viz. the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For Abraham was well known to the nations, who also knew that the divine spirit was in contact with the patriarchs, cared for them, and performed miracles for them. He did not say: 'The God of heaven and earth,' nor 'my Creator and thine sent me.' In the same way God commenced His speech to the assembled people of Israel: 'I am the God whom you worship, who has led you out of the land of Egypt,' but He did not say: 'I am the Creator of the world and your Creator.' Now in the same style I spoke to thee, a Prince of the Khazars, when thou didst ask me about my creed. [He then explains the history of humanity from Adam]


Al Khazari: It is strange that you should possess authentic chronology of the creation of the world.

 An arrangement of this kind removes any suspicion of untruth or common plot. Not ten people could discuss such a thing without disagreeing, and disclosing their secret understanding; nor could they refute any one who tried to establish the truth of a matter like this. …

The Rabbi:

 Is it likely that any one could to-day invent false statements concerning the origin, history, and languages of well-known nations.

Al Khazari: Such a thing would only have been possible if they had all come to an agreement. This, however, is improbable, unless all men are the descendants of Adam, of Noah, or of some other ancestor from whom they received the hebdomadal calculation ( seven-day week).

The Rabbi: That is what I meant. East and West agree on the decimal system. What instinct  induced them to keep to the number ten, unless it was a tradition handed down by the first one who did so?


The Rabbi: ( On the extreme antiquity of the universe)There is an excuse for the Philosophers. Being Grecians, science and religion did not come to them as inheritances.

Al Khazari: Does this mean that Aristotle's philosophy is not deserving of credence?

The Rabbi: Certainly. He exerted his mind because he had no tradition from any reliable source at his disposal. He meditated on the beginning and end of the world but found as much difficulty in the theory of a beginning as in that of eternity.

Al Khazari: Is there any decisive proof?

The Rabbi:…. The question of eternity and creation is obscure, whilst the arguments are evenly balanced. The theory of creation derives greater weight from the prophetic tradition of Adam, Noah, and Moses, which is more deserving of credence than mere speculation


Al Khazari: Let us now return to our subject, and explain to me how your belief grew, how it spread and became general.

The Rabbi:… A religion of divine origin arises suddenly. It is bidden to arise, and it is there, like the creation of the world.

Al Khazari: Thou surprisest me, O Rabbi.

The Rabbi: It is, indeed, astonishing. The Israelites lived in Egypt as slaves, six hundred thousand men above the age of twenty, descendants of the Twelve Tribes. … Notwithstanding their lowly position as compared to the tyrant in his might, God sent Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh with signs and miracles, allowing them even to change the course of nature. … The Israelites left the country of Pharaoh's bondage, by the command of God, the same night and at the same moment, when the firstborn died, and reached the shores of the Red Sea…. Pharaoh and his host were drowned, and the waves washed their corpses towards the Israelites, so that they could see them with their own eyes. It is a long and well-known story.

Al Khazari: This is, in truth, divine power, and the commandments connected with it must be accepted. No one could imagine for a moment that this was the result of necromancy, calculation, or phantasy. . .: This also is irrefutable, viz. a thing which occurred to six hundred thousand people for forty years.

The Rabbi: …. They also saw Moses enter it and emerge from it; they distinctly heard the Ten Commandments, which represent the very essence of the Law. . . .The divine allocution was followed by the divine writing. For he wrote these Ten Words on two tablets of precious stone, and handed them to Moses. The people saw the divine writing, as they had heard the divine words…. But the result was that every one who was present at the time became convinced that the matter proceeded from God direct…. Thus disappear from the soul of the believer the doubts of philosophers and materialists.

For me it is sufficient that God chose them as His people from all nations of the world, and allowed His influence to rest on all of them ( הָעִנְיָן הָאֱלֹהִי- divine influence, divine element), and that they nearly approached being addressed by Him. It even descended on their women, among whom were prophetesses, whilst since Adam only isolated individuals had been inspired till then.