Is there any evidence Ramban (Nachmanides) had access to books of kabbalah and did he ever cite them? I believe he is generally seen as Maimonides’ mystical counterpart. Is there any historical record though he actually had access to works of mysticism and Kabbalah?

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    His commentary on Chumash is pretty explicitly Kabbalistic. That itself is probably a historical proof.
    – Yehuda
    Jan 4 at 20:21

2 Answers 2


Aryeh Kaplan, The Bahir, Introduction (1979):

The Bahir is one of the oldest and most important of all classical Kabbalah texts. Until the publication of the Zohar, the Bahir was the most influential and widely quoted primary source of Kabbalistic teachings. It is quoted in virtually every major book on Kabbalah, the earliest being the Raavad's commentary on Sefer Yetzirah, and it is cited numerous times by Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban) in his commentary on the Torah.[2]

  1. See Ramban on Genesis 1:1, 2:7, 24:1, 28:29, 46:1, 49:24, Exodus 2:25, 15:27, 20:8, Leviticus 23:40, 26:16, Numbers 15:31, Deuteronomy 16:20, 22:6, 33:12, 33:23.

Ramban made a commentary on Sefer Yetzira

He mentions Sefer Yetzirah several times in his commentary on Chumash, for example:

וכך אמרו בספר יצירה: יצר מתהו ממש ועשה אינו ישנו.

So the Rabbis have also said in Sefer Yetzirah: “He created substance from tohu, and made that which was nothing something.”

Sefer Yetzira is a Kabbalistic work.

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    The last sentence isn't very meaningful, since it just depends how you define kabala. Plenty of later authorities who questioned the zohar/ari/etc still accepted sefer yetzira as Jewish.
    – Double AA
    Jan 4 at 19:26
  • @DoubleAA I didn't mention Zohar etc. I assume the question (and this answer) simply refer to the esoteric part of Torah, i.e. Kabbalah? How do you define Kabbalah and if different to me, perhaps encourage the question to define the term. The Ramban was one of the last famous Kabbalists before the Zohar
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 4 at 19:39
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    R' Saadya Gaon also has a commentary on Sefer Yetzira but he thought Gilgulim was heresy. Kabbalist?
    – Double AA
    Jan 4 at 19:45
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    @RabbiKaii The שער הגילגולים is explicit that זוהר is not Kabbalah. It refers to it as מדרש.
    – zunior
    Jan 5 at 20:01
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    @DoubleAA Intro to Eitz Chaim says that Ramban was the last "Mekubal", indicating that that was actually Kabbalah i.e. accepted, and the later generations coopted the nomenclature.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jan 12 at 12:02

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