Monday, April 16, 2018

The Radak

Torah Scholars regularly immerse themselves in a process of study that is thousands of years old. Each scholar studies not just the sacred texts, but the enriching commentary of the preceding generations, and then adds to that scholarship their own unique enrichments. One such significant commentator is generally referred to as the RaDaK, the initials of Rabbi David Kimchi.

Born in 1160, in the region of Narbonne (France), Kimchi came from a family of scholars. His father, Joseph, who passed away when he was a child, was a noted grammarian, as was Moses, his older brother who raised and educated him. Upon reaching adulthood, Kimchi supported himself as a teacher of the Talmud.

Building upon the scholastic heritage of his father and his brother, Kimchi published Michlol (Book of Completeness), which was both a study of Hebrew grammar and a lexicon. Later publications divided the two parts into separate books, the latter of which was titled Sefer Hashorashim (Book of Roots).  An abridged version, Et Sofer, became a popular grammar guide for Biblical scholars.

Much of the Radak’s Biblical commentary was based on grammar and etymology. His commentary is found most prominently in the Books of the Prophets, as well as in Genesis, Psalms and the Books of Chronicles.

In addition to his scholarly work, Rabbi David Kimchi was also involved in refuting Christian attacks on Judaism. He also weighed in on the Maimonidean controversy as a defender of Rabbi Moses Maimonides’ philosophical works. He even tried to travel to Spain to take part in the controversy personally, but he died, in 1235, before reaching his destination.

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