Ramban 1194-1270, born Girona, Catalonia and dies in Israel
Ramban's commentary on the Torah (five books of Moses) was his last work, and his most well known. He frequently cites and critiques Rashi's commentary, and provides alternative interpretations where he disagrees with Rashi's interpretation. He was prompted to record his commentary by three motives:
- to satisfy the minds of students of the Law and stimulate their interest by a critical examination of the text;
- to justify the ways of God and discover the hidden meanings of the words of Scripture, "for in the Torah are hidden every wonder and every mystery, and in her treasures is sealed every beauty of wisdom";
- to soothe the minds of the students by simple explanations and pleasant words when they read the appointed sections of the Pentateuch on Sabbaths and festivals.
Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, Netziv, 1816 Mir - 1893, Poland
The Netziv was the rosh yeshiva of Volozhin, he was a traditionalist in his approach to Torah, unlike that of his colleagues from the Soloveitchik dynasty. He was a Zionist, in the religious sense of the word, encouraging his students to settle the land of Israel.
What does the Ramban do in his introcution to the book of Shemot
- He restablishes the reality of exile
- He sees Shemot not as a book of freedom, but a book of redemption
It seems that there is a contradiction in the Ramban's own words. In the first section he speaks of physical redemption ending when the Jewish people return to the land of Israel. In the second part, redemption occurs when the mishkan is built.
For the Ramban, redemption can mean two things
- Physical redemption, and
- Spiritual redemption
HaEmek Davar Introduction on Shemot
What does the HaEmek Davar do in his introduction? (we are only going to look at the first part)
Firstly he outlines different ways by which Chazal name the books of the Torah. then he explains why the book of Shemot, or what was classically called the 'Second Book' is different, and is an extension of the story of creation.