Where did the Maharal source his knowledge of nistar from in his seforim? Was it other seforim or rabbis?

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman, in the article called "The Maharal: His Approach, His Innovations and His Position as a Teacher of Posterity", originally posted in the fall 2009 issue of "Jewish Action" explains that the Maharal was influenced by many sources. He writes:

We shall find some points of interest in their words that might seem far-fetched; they are indecipherable in their context, but their secret is clearly revealed elsewhere—for example, the Midrash on Sefer HaZohar, or the Midrash HaBahir by Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakanah, and other books of wisdom that are kept hidden in the libraries of the wise. And these works reveal concealed aspects of Torah that the Sages spoke of in hints.

This is why the Maharal became known as Geviha ben Pesisa, a spokesman of the sages, as Rabbi Hartman explains. He used many sources for writing his seforim. From Midrashim to Kabbalastic sources, such as the Zohar.

The Maharal also often cites the Rambam, and refers to the Rambam as רבי הגדול - the Great Rabbi (Be'er HaGolah, Be'er 4, p. 49) 1

See alto this research, where a few of Maharal's teaches are identified, including the Rosh Yeshiva of Maharal's shul, Rabbi Shalom Shachna: Admiration and Fear: New Perspectives on the Personality of the Maharal (Sladek, P, 2017, p. 8) - see also here: Kotzk Blog: new research on Maharal of Prague. The research shows that Maharal did not have a specific teacher.

1 Maharal’s Be’er ha-Golah and His Revolution in Aggadic Scholarship — in Their Context and on His Terms (Chaim Eisen) (p. 154)

  • That doesn't really answer the question because no-one else reads the kabbalistic sources like the Maharal reads them. The Chassidim would probably tell you that the Maharal came from nowhere, i.e. Hashem sent down a neshama to olam hazeh to reveal a new way of learning Torah.
    – The GRAPKE
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:01
  • @TheGRAPKE It does. I don't know if you had a look at the paper from Sladek, P (2017, p. 8), but there it clearly explains what the OP was looking for.
    – Shmuel
    Apr 4, 2023 at 16:54
  • The basic point is that the Maharal's thought widely differs from anyone who came before him. So guessing which teachers had an influence on him is entirely redundant. Further, in the paper you mention there is a story in which the Maharal offered his own explanation to a subject under discussion by a group of rabbis when he was 7 years old, which makes it abundantly clear that he didn't really need to be mekabel from anyone, וכנ"ל.
    – The GRAPKE
    Apr 5, 2023 at 6:14

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