Original is not a word often used in connection with a code of Jewish law. In general, the rule tends to be that if it’s true it isn’t new, and if it’s new it isn’t true. But “original” is precisely the right word to use in connection with Maimonides' text...Read More
The Ramban's Letter
Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman (known as the Ramban or Nachmanides) was born in Gerona, Spain in 1194, and died in Eretz Yisrael in 1270. The Ramban was one of the greatest Torah scholars of his generation. After he left Spain, his famous students, the Rashba and Rabbi Aaron Halevi (who is thought to have written the Sefer Ha-Chinuch), became the new spiritual leaders of Spanish Jewry. The Ramban’s many different writings include commentary on the Torah and the Talmud, halachic texts (codes of Jewish Law), answers to people’s questions (responsa), works on kabbalah and philosophy, and speeches on faith and religion.
In 1267, King James forced the Ramban into a debate on religion with the convert Pablo Christian. The king and the Christian clergy were at this debate which was rigged from the start so that no matter what happened, the Christians would be declared the winners. In the end, even though the Ramban won the debate, he was banished from Spain.
So, at the age of 73, the Ramban made the difficult and dangerous trip to the Holy Land, fulfilling his life’s dream of settling in Eretz Yisrael. Although the Ramban lived in the city of Acco (Acre) until his death, he was able to help rebuild the Jewish community in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by invading Tartars. Like many other Spanish Torah scholars, the Ramban was also a doctor.
This ancient letter, known as Iggeres HaRamban, was sent by the Ramban from the city of Acco, to his son Nachman in Catalina, Spain. Its purpose was to teach him how to act- calmly, and with patience, discipline, and humility. The Ramban told his son to read the letter once a week. He also told him to teach it to his children while they were still young, in order to train them to fear Hashem. The Ramban assured his son that each time he reads this letter, Hashem will fulfill his wishes.