The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Ramban`s Conceptual Jurisprudence

Ramban`s method in his hiddushim has been characterized as a form of tosafist dialectic. Haym Soloveitchik and Yisrael Ta-Shma have also argued that Ramban developed and advanced the method of tosafists, creating a more sophisticated version of it. In this lecture I argue that Ramban`s method in the hiddushim is best characterized as conceptualist and not as a version of tosafist dialectic. I first characterize conceptualism and dialectic. Next, I offer several examples from Ramban`s halakhic writings that exemplify his conceptualist method. Finally, I show how, in these examples, Ramban`s method differs from that of the tosafists.