Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Mischievous Thought Interlude

Perhaps the Jewish blogosphere could raise the funds necessary to name a building on the campus of Dominican University in honor of Nachmanides, the Ramban.

As students of Jewish history will recall, the Ramban demolished a panel of Dominican friars at a disputation (1) held in Barcelona before the court of King James I of Aragon. The Ramban's own account of the encounter is recorded in Sefer Havikvach, which was translated by Dr. Charles Chavel. Another translation appears here.

The debate ended when, in the Ramban's account, the king said "Let the dispute be suspended. For I have never seen a man whose case is wrong (2) argue it as well as you have done."

I thought the grounds of Dominican University, a school committed to upholding the ideals of those same friars, might be an appropriate place to remember the Ramban's superb achievement.

Who agrees?

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(1) There were hundreds of these diputations in the middle ages.. Usually, the friars would force Jewish congregations to listen to hours of preaching before permitting a Rabbi to respond. Often, the Rabbi was warned that he must not insult Catholisim, which made a proper response all but impossible. The Ramban's disputation is noteworthy because the king himself granted the Ramban freedom to speak his mind.

(2) According to Chavel "whose case is wrong", might also mean "who is not a lawyer"

Comments:

I'd be in for a few bucks - depends on how much we need. If everyone gave $18 we might stand a chance. But would you organize it - because the rest of us are too busy taking care of our blogs?  

I'd be glad to organize it, but how about some publicity from the big boys and girls? (You know who you are.) Here's the deal: If this Mischievous Thought can attract twenty supportive comments (or emails), I will contact Dominican University about a naming opportunity to honor the Ramban, Jewish debator (and scholar) par excellance!

We'll take it from there.  
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