Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Samuel ibn Tibbon

Samuel is the most famous of the Ibn Tibbons, though he got something of a bum rap in his father's ethical will, as being lazy and uninterested in his studies. Maimonides thought he was good enough to be his authorized translator, and that has always been his claim to fame.

In the past few years, two major studies have been devoted to the independent thought of Samuel Ibn Tibbon - James Robinson translated his commentary on Ecclesiastes, and Carlos Fraenkel studied his criticisms of the Guide of the Perplexed.

I don't know whether this exchange is reported elsewhere - I found it today in a manuscript:

שאל לר' שמואל תבון החכם שנתחבר עמו מצאנו באיוב שהשם הורידהו מנכסיו ובניו וכל אשר לו ואשתו נשארה לו. השיבו השם רצה להכאיבו בשטן מלמעלה ושטן מלמטה. השיבו זאת טענת הרמאין אמור לי האמת השיבו אם יקח ממנו אשתו לא ישאר לו כלום ר"ל החמר.

[Someone] asked the sage, Rabbi Samuel Tibbon - we find that God took from Job his possessions and his sons and all he had, but left his wife. [Ibn Tibbon] responded - God wanted to torment him with a Satan above and a Satan below. [The questioner] retorted - that is the response of scoundrels. Tell me the truth! [Ibn Tibbon] said - if He took his wife, he would have nothing, i.e. no matter.

I'm curious what the questioner meant by 'te'anat ha-rama'im'. Did he consider the misogynist answer to be flippant, or really insidious?


Anonymous Yehuda H. said...

The Gemara records several cases where an incorrect answer was given just to shrug off the questioner. This conversation probably meant the following (If a longer excerpt were provided, possibly a more accurate explanation can be arrived at): The scholar knew that Ibn Tibbon interpreted the verses philosophically. Thus his question was intended to elicit a philosophical explanation of the verse. However, Ibn Tibbon responded with a witticism based on the literal meaning. His interlocutor therefore said, this response is dishonest, since you Ibn Tibbon don't really believe the literal explanation. Ibn Tibbon thereupon gave him a philosophical response, as follows: According to the scholastic philosophers, man is form and woman is matter. However, the two cannot exist without each other, thus if God had removed the woman-matter, Job himself would have ceased existing.

10:14 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

The Lamb


Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Gave thee life and bid thee feed

By the stream and o'er the mead:

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?


Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb.

He is meek and He is mild;

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

Little Lamb, God bless thee!

Little Lamb, God bless thee!

~~~by aoc power leveling

4:32 AM  

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