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I was reading בחינת דת, a work of Hashkafa by Elias ben Moise del Medigo and in it he references* an argument between Rashi and the Ra'avid regarding the meaning of HaMelech HaKadosh. The context is apparently that some use this as evidence that one (or both?) of them had access to Kabbalah, and he is dismissive of the claim - however he neither describes the nature of the claim nor refutes it.

What is the argument and where is each found in the original works of Rashi and the Ra'avid respectively?

Brownie points: How does that argument relate to Kabbalah?

*I have seen a claim that the commentary on the bottom of this print was written by a Maskil.

  • 1
    Which Ra'avad?. – Y     e     z Jan 6 '16 at 4:52
  • @yez, he doesn't specify. – Yishai Jan 6 '16 at 11:35
  • The only machloqes I can think of doesn't seem to be related: Rashi (among the majority) says that someone who ends the 3rd berakhah "haKel haQadosh" during 10 Yemei Teshuvah must repeat the berakhah. The Raavad says one does not. This machloqes is in the Tur (OC 582 j.mp/1Z8uhO2 ) – Micha Berger Jan 6 '16 at 14:26
  • @Yishai, do you have a link for the sefer online? It would be nice to see the text you are referring to. – Yaacov Deane Jan 8 '16 at 14:56
  • @Yishai, here's the link. You should edit it at the appropriate page into your question. Which page? hebrewbooks.org/… – Yaacov Deane Jan 8 '16 at 15:15
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If I'm reading the text correctly, Del Mediggo is referring to the idea that the Ra'avad is giving in his explanation of the phrases, 'HaMelech HaKadosh' and 'Al tashiveinu', that they are referring to the Holy name of 72 triplets (216 letters). This name relates to converting 'Gevurot' to 'Chassadim' which is why this would be related to the 10 days of teshuvah, meaning from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur. The gematria of 'Gevurah' (גבורה) is 216. While the gematria of 'Chesed' (חסד) is 72. This name was also associated with changing Moshe's staff into the serpent and back again.

And Rashi says in his commentary, that this name is not necessarily associated with this name and to study of 'Kabbalah' and is not restricted to those who study Kabbalah alone. Rashi comments on this phrase, 'HaMelech HaKadosh', in Gemara Brachot 12b.

I don't happen to have the Ra'avad on Brachot handy, but that is where I would look for the 'Kabbalistic' explanation. It is possible that he may discuss the subject in his comments to Hilchot Tefilla from the Rambam in Mishnah Torah. Ra'avad was from Provence and was a recognized authority in Pnimiyut HaTorah in his day.

  • Without looking at the sources, I can be pretty sure that Rashi dos no says in his commentary, that this name is not necessarily associated with this name and to study of 'Kabbalah' and is not restricted to those who study Kabbalah alone. Whatever sorts of mysticism existed in Rashi's time were not known as kabbalah. This term seems to postdate him by centuries. – mevaqesh Jan 8 '16 at 17:49
  • "Ra'avad was from Provence and was a recognized authority in Pnimiyut HaTorah in his day." Source? In reality Raavad never once mentions a single "kabbalistic" idea in all of his writings. – mevaqesh Jan 8 '16 at 17:54
  • BTW: did the term "penimiyut HaTorah" even exist before the Acharonim? – mevaqesh Jan 8 '16 at 17:54
  • @mevaqesh, you are correct. That assessment, that choice of words, is by the author of "Bechinat HaDa'at". He is looking at Rashi on Brachot discussing the phrase, 'HaMelech HaKadosh' and saying it is not the way the Ra'avad explains the same words. Delmedigo says the meaning of those words is not restricted to those who study Kabbalah. – Yaacov Deane Jan 8 '16 at 18:00
  • @mevaqesh, From what I have learned over the years, your understanding of the mystical parts of Torah learned in Rashi's time is not correct. The nomenclature was different. Part of that had to do with the permission to disseminate being very restricted then. A good explanation of that subject can be found in the introduction to Sefer Shomer Emunim HaKadmon. I will, bli neder, be providing you with background on this in another post where we have discussed this recently. – Yaacov Deane Jan 8 '16 at 18:02

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