4

At the end of his commentary to Parshat Bereishit, Ralbag writes that he had difficulty composing his commentary to this parshah because the earlier commentaries practically pushed him away from reaching the truth:

ובכאן נשלם לנו הביאור בזאת הפרשה רוצה לומר פרשת בראשית באופן שלם ונאות מאד לאמת וללשון כמו שתראה והיתה השלמתו בזמן קצר מאד עם מה שהשיגנו בזה מהקושי החזק מפני הפירושים שמצאנום לקודמים אשר בזאת הפרשה אשר הם כמעט שהיו סיבה אל הרחקתנו מהשגת האמת בה כמו שיתבאר למי שיראה דברינו ודבריהם והתהילה לאל אשר עזרנו והיתה השלמתו בסוף אב של שנת שמונים ושמונה לפרט האלף הששי ליצירה

However, earlier in his commentary to this very parshah, when he concludes his discussion of the actual account of Creation, he writes that he has to give thanks to his predecessors because even though his conclusions are far from theirs, they were still the cause — in some way — of his arriving at the truth. And he specifically names Rambam and Ibn Ezra as examples:

וראוי שלא נקצר מלתת תודה לקודמים במה שדיברו במעשה בראשית ואם נמצאו רחוקים מאד מהכונה אשר מצאנוה בכאן כמו שתראה ממה שביאר בזה הרב המורה בספרו הנכבד מורה הנבוכים והחכם ר' אברהם אבן עזרא בפירוש התורה הנה הם היו סיבה באופן מה להעמידנו על האמת בזה

So which is it? Were Ralbag's predecessors a help, or were they a hindrance? In both statements he seems to clearly state that his predecessors were wrong, but in one statement he seems to be saying that his predecessors' wrong explanations helped him, while in the other statement he seems to be saying that his predecessors' wrong explanations made things harder.

  • Is he perhaps referring to different predecessors in the two statements? (Note that in one statement he mentions no names, while in the other statement he mentions two names. He does not, however, seem to indicate that he is limiting himself to specific commentaries in either case.)
  • Does he perhaps mean that in the early part of the parshah the wrong explanations helped him, but in the rest of the parshah the wrong explanations made things more difficult? (I'm not sure why that would be the case.)
  • Does he perhaps mean that the earlier explanations were a mixture of helpful and harmful?
  • Do any later commentaries perhaps discuss this?

For some more context on how Ralbag viewed his predecessors' erroneous explanations of Creation, this is what he writes in Michamot Hashem Book 6, Part 2, Chapter 8:

You, my reader, notice how remarkable our explanation of this chapter [of Genesis] is compared to those of our predecessors, such that no other interpretation but ours is even possible! Our reader should not misunderstand us; for this chapter clearly testifies in our behalf, whether by means of its language or its order, that this is its true explanation, We did not want to lengthen our discussion by refuting the interpretations of our predecessors, since we believe that this would be a superfluous undertaking in the light of the transparent truth of our own interpretation and the clear indication of Scripture itself thereof. And with the confession of the opposing party there is no need for witnesses. (Feldman translation)

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .