Some Gedolim Musings

  • I just found out via email that I’ve won Chardal’s little trivia quiz. And it wasn’t because I’ve read Ramchal’s religious poetry, but because I knew that he penned a sequel to Tehillim (aside from his sequel to the Zohar). The degree of his hubris is very much underappreciated, as is the degree and variety of his genius. His literary output, for a man who died before his 40th birthday, is mind boggling.

  • In a similar vein, there is really a small group of Jewish writers throughout the centuries, that when I see the sheer volume of what they accomplished, and the small amount of time in which they accomplished it, that I am in complete awe (that’s not to say that I think I can duplicate what others have done; it’s just that I can see how they are humanly possible. What those on this list did, I simply can’t wrap my mind around how a single human being composed works of such breadth and depth in such a short period of time). Others on the list include:

    • Rashi
    • Rambam
    • Ramban
    • Rashba
    • Beit Yosef
    • Rama
    • Scha”ch

  • There are others who seemed to have made a major impact in a brief period of time, but left very little of their own writings. The common denominator between them is that they are the exceptions to the Lichtenstonian observation that “Our Johnsons don’t have Boswells”. They include (with their respective Boswells in parenthesis):
    • R’ Isaac Luria, the Ari z”l (R’ Hayyim Vital)
    • R’ Israel Balsam, the Ba’al Shem Tov, or Besht (R’ Dovber, the Maggid of Mezeritch)
    • R’ Nachman of Bratzlav (R’ Nathan of Nemirov)

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