Rishonim You Probably Never Heard Of
When we speak of ‘the Rishonim’ we generally think of the Rosh, Radak, Ramban and Rambam, the Rashba and other well known sages from the 11th – 15th centuries. Join Rabbi David Sedley and learn about the lesser known ones, such as Rabbi Eliyahu del Medigo, Profiat Duran, Chasdai Crescas, Shem Tov ibn Falaquera, Rabbi Moshe Taku, Rabbi Yosef ibn Caspi and others.
Rishonim You Probably Never Heard Of: Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli
Yitzchak Yisraeli (832-932) played an important role in the development and transmission of ancient Greek medicine and philosophy to the European medieval world.
He was also known as Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, Yitzhak ben Shlomo ha-Yisraeli, Abu Ya’qub Ishaq ibn Suleiman al-Isra’ili, Isaac Israeli the Elder and Isaac Judaeus.
He spent his main years in Kairouan, Tunisia, where he served as physician to Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, founder of the Fatimid dynasty.
His books were all written in Arabic, but were translated into Latin and brought to Europe by Constantine the African, where they served as texts in the first medical university in Salerna.
Rishonim You Probably Never Heard Of: Rabbi Moshe Taku
In this class we look at the background to one of the Maimonidean controversies which led to the burning of Sefer Hamadah and The Guide to the Perplexed, and shortly afterwards led to the burning of the Talmud in Paris.
We discuss Rambam (and Rav Sa’adiah)’s view of metaphor to explain the Torah and midrashim, and contrast it with the view of the French Rabbis, most explicitly by Rav Moshe Taku, that insist on the literal meaning of the verses and statements of Chazal.
Rishonim You Probably Never Heard Of: Rabbi Profiat Duran (Efodi)
Rabbi Profiat Duran (Efodi) 1350-1415 us the only Rishon (as far as I know) who was forced to become Christian for a while AND wrote a polemic against Christianity. He was also a philosopher and grammarian.
Rishonim You Probably Never Heard Of: Rabbi David Gans part 1
Rabbi David Gans (1541–1613) was the first Rabbi to accept the Copernican view of the universe. Before we look at his life and writings, we will examine how some rabbis of the Talmud viewed the universe (and the halachic implications of that view), how Rambam rejected that view and offered the Ptolemaic understanding.
Rabbi Gans’s teachers were Rav Moshe Isserles (Rema) and Rabbi Yehuda Loew (Maharal) so we will also look at what they wrote about cosmology.
Then we will start to learn about Rabbi Gans’s books, beginning with his history book, Tzemach David. This book was almost unique because while volume 1 is a history of the Jewish people, volumes 2 and 3 tell the history of the kings of the world.
Rabbi David Sedley lives in Jerusalem with his wife and six children. He was born and raised in New Zealand before making Aliya in 1992. He left Israel temporarily (for eight years) to serve as a communal Rabbi in Scotland and England and returned to Israel in 2004. He has translated Rabbeinu Yonah's commentary on Pirkei Avos and is the co-author of Sefiros: Spiritual Refinement Through Counting the Omer (both Judaica Press). Over the years Rabbi Sedley has worked as a journalist, a translator, a video director and in online reputation management. He also writes a weekly Torah blog on the Times of Israel.