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MOSES BEN NAHMAN (1195-1270).

Also known as Nahmanides or Ramban. Born in Gerona, Spain, he was one of the outstanding Talmudic scholars and Bible commentators of the Middle Ages. Nahmanides’ fame rose when he brilliantly defended the Jewish faith in one of the forced religious disputes between Christians and Jews. The dispute took place at Barcelona, Spain, in 1263. Nahmanides was compelled to participate under order of King James I of Aragon. The question “Has the Messiah already arrived, or is he yet to appear and redeem the world from its state of misery and suffering?” was one of the central themes of the debate. The King conceded the success of the great Jewish scholar who presented winning arguments in support of the Jewish religion. This victory enraged his adversaries, the Dominican priests, who accused him of insulting the Christian faith. Forced to leave Spain, Nahmanides came to Palestine in 1267, settling first in Jerusalem and later in Acre where he founded a Talmudical academy. Finding few Jews in Palestine, Nahmanides issued a call to his brethren in other countries and urged them to come and settle in the Holy Land.

Nahmanides was recognized as the foremost authority on Jewish law. His commentary on the Bible continues to be highly regarded for its profound interpretations based on reason and deep knowledge. A physician by profession, Nahmanides also engaged in the study of mysticism, or Kabbalah, philosophy, and science.

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