Derashot Ha-Ran

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DERASHOT HA-RAN (Heb. דְּרָשׁוֹת הָרַ״ן), a collection of 12 homiletic works. Traditionally, they are attributed to R. Nissim b. Reuben *Gerondi, one of the outstanding Jewish leaders in Christian Spain, known as רַ״ן ("Ran," from Rabbi Nissim). The prolific writings and information on Gerondi, however, do not prove his authorship, and there is nothing in the homilies themselves to identify the author. It is therefore necessary to assume that the first initial of the writer of the work was the Hebrew letterנ (nun), and that later scholars attributed it to the famous rabbi of Gerona.

The homilies in the collection (first edition probably Constantinople, c. 1533; second Venice, 1592, and many subsequent editions) belong to the tradition of philosophic homiletic literature, started by *Abraham b. Ḥiyya (12th century) and carried on by homiletic writers like Jacob *Anatoli and Isaac *Arama. Like other writers of homiletic philosophic works, the author of this collection does not exclusively follow one school of philosophy but is eclectic, basing himself on several schools. The work is nevertheless of some importance in the history of Jewish philosophy and it seems that *Ḥasdai Crescas was influenced by it in the formulation of his anti-Aristotelian philosophic system. The homilies are based on single verses from the Torah, each forming the theme of an individual homily. The method used is that of homiletic questioning of the form and content of the verses, as well as of some logical problems. The answers and homiletic interpretations are arrived at by way of the questioning itself, into which the author interweaves his moralistic and ethical system. He never approaches his ethical point directly and uses philosophic questions and answers as a bridge between the verses and the ethical conclusions. Among the philosophical problems he examines are the creation, the essence of nature, and in particular the nature of prophecy and the unique quality of the revelation to Moses (in the third and fifth homilies). In his ethical and moralistic teachings much emphasis is laid on the themes of the nature of the divine commandments, the relationship between rabbinic laws and the Torah, fear and love of God, and especially on the ways of repentance. The author took special pains to drive home to his audience that all the troubles the Jews were undergoing had some purpose in a divine design, whose end was good.


Rosenmann, in: Festschrift… Schwarz (1917), 489–98; H.R. Rabinowitz, Deyokna'ot shel Darshanim (1967), 67–73.

[Joseph Dan]