“Taking Precedence over the Torah”: Vows and Oaths, Abstinence and Celibacy in Naḥmanides’s Oeuvre

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Author: Oded Yisraeli1
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  • 1 Ben Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael
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This article explores the ascetic tendencies of Naḥmanides (R. Moses ben Naḥman, ca. 1194–1270) as reflected in his oeuvre as a whole, including his halakhic, kabbalistic, exegetical, and philosophical output. A close examination of Naḥmanides’s kabbalistic commentary to a talmudic sugiya concerning the differences between oaths and vows uncovers the austere and ascetic ethos in his teaching and its central place in his religious world. This perspective is linked to the nature of human beings and the human soul, the relationship between body and psyche, the meaning of life and the overcoming of death, and the status of the Torah and the connection between observance of the commandments and the voluntary hasidic ethos.

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