DON YITZCHAK ABARBANEL,
A TORAH SCHOLAR FOR OUR OPEN SOCIETY.
This Torah scholar, diplomat, financier, mystic and leader of his people,
although living some 5 centuries ago, is particularly pertinent to the
modern open society and global village in which we live, in a way that no
other scholar seems to be. He is probably the last person to combine within
his person 4 major and long existent Jewish traditions; philosopher,
statesman, torah scholarship and cabbalist. His commentary on the Torah
seems particularly suitable to those of us who earn our livelihoods, engage
in business or professions and willy-nilly are confronted with the
challenges of living globally, for the first time since his period, in free
Faced with the challenges inherent in the cultural and religious free
market of his time - 15th century Spain, his knowledge of Torah,
philosophy, both Jewish and that of classical Greece and European
Renaissance, and mystical sources, he presents a commentary suitable to us
living in a similar assimilatory prone, open and spiritually free society.
As a scion of traumatic Jewish expulsion, persecution and suffering, his
ideas of galut, redemption and messianism are extremely relevant to our
post holocaust generation.
Adopting a special Socratic style of detailed questions and answers, he
produces a commentary on the Chumash and the Nach that is familiar and
convenient for us trained as we are, knowingly or unknowingly, in Greek
methods of thought and those of science and technology. Furthermore, he
constantly refers to the classical commentators who preceded him- Rashi,
Rambam, Ibn Ezrah, Ralbag and Ramban. However, he then goes on to supply
his own comments reflecting his own very specific approach.
He was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1437, into a family descended from King
David that ranked in the forefront of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.
They were distinguished by their financial, political and Jewish communal
In addition they were known as a family that loved scholarship, and piety,
and had strong moral convictions. All these as well as their commercial and
financial strengths Don Yitzchak inherited. Then in 1483, with the
ascension of the anti Semitic king Joao, he was forced to flee to Spain,
where he re-established himself till the expulsion of Spanish Jewry in
1492. Ultimately he made his way to Italy, where he lived in Naples and
Venice till his death in1508.
Dr. Meir Tamari is a renowned economist, Jewish scholar, and founder of the Center For Business Ethics (http://www.besr.org) in Jerusalem.