Latest update: July 3rd, 2013
Rabi Moshe ben Nachman, widely known as the Ramban was born in the year 1194 in the town of Gurunda, Catalina. He became famous as a great scholar and sage and wrote interpretations on the Torah and on many Gemaras, and authored many seforim, which are revered to this day. The Ramban was also a philosopher and a physician and his services were in great demand.
One day, while the Ramban was studying, an elderly man was ushered into his chambers. The man was a mystic and well versed in the Kabbalah, He introduced himself to the Ramban and proceeded to urge him to study the Kabbalah. The Ramban avoided this study, as he believed it was unnecessary in this world. When the man became persistent the Ramban ordered him to leave.
“You’ll see,” said the Kabbalist, “how necessary it is to study this mysticism. I am urging you to do this for your sake, because you are a great man and you never can tell when you may need it.”
The elderly man left the Ramban’s house and walking into a church began to smash the statues and do other mischief. He was caught, judged to be a heretic, and sentenced to be burned at the stake that Shabbat.
The Kabbalist Performs Miracles
When the Ramban heard he was aghast. He visited the condemned man and upbraided him for his bad behavior, which served as a reflection upon all Jewry. The elderly man seemed unconcerned and asked the Ramban to please prepare his three Shabbat meals. The Ramban thought he was mentally unbalanced and left him.
Shabbat morning the man was led to a tremendous burning pyre. As the soldiers prepared to throw him into it, the Kabbalist uttered the Holy name and they were suddenly struck blind. Miraculously a goat appeared on the scene and the soldiers grabbed it and threw it into the fire, thinking it was the elderly man.
Walking home, the Kabbalist entered the Ramban’s home in time to answer Amen to the Ramban’s kiddush. The Ramban was amazed and after hearing the entire story he decided to learn the wisdom of the Kabbalah. He spent many months with this elderly man and then he went to study with the sage, Rabi Elazar of Worms, world-renown Kabbalist and author of the sefer HaRokeach. After a few years, the Ramban became proficient in the wisdom of the Kabbalah.
Ramban Launches A Ship
The following year all of Spain turned out to witness the launching of one of the largest warships of the time, in the city of Barcelona. The king and queen were there as well as the entire court. The leaders of all nations were also present. As the chief spokesman for his people, the Ramban was also invited to attend.
While the trumpets blared, the workingmen released the wedges to permit the ship to slide down into the water. But something went wrong and the boat would not move. The workingmen frantically began to push the boat and used every method but it wouldn’t budge. The populace began to groan.
The Ramban, seeing this predicament, remarked to one of his pupils that with the use of the Holy Name he could move the boat and if need be, even mountains. A neighbor hearing this rushed to the king and repeated the conversation. The king commanded the Ramban to be brought before him and he ordered him to fulfill his boast.
Realizing his predicament, the Ramban requested a dinghy with a pilot to accompany him in the harbor. This was granted. The Ramban then uttered the awesome Holy Name and commanded the ship to slide down into the waters. Wonders of wonders! The boat began to move slowly and soon with a rush it splashed into the harbor water. The crowd cheered. However, before the king could summon the Ramban to reward him, the Bishop approached the king and accused the Ramban of witchcraft.
Hearing this the Ramban wrote out the Holy Name and the symbol of travel, on a piece of paper and placed it in a corner of the little boat. Immediately, the boat jumped forward as if guided by a tremendous power. The pilot had been asleep so he didn’t notice the boat racing through the waters. In a matter of minutes the boat covered half the coast of Spain and he entered a port near his home.
When the boat stopped at the port, the pilot suddenly awoke and noticing the strange town and began to cry in anguish. “How can I return to Barcelona in a little dinghy? The first wave will turn it over. How did you make the boat sail in the high seas? Woe is me that I ever saw you.”
Taking pity on the pilot, the Ramban wrote the Holy Name on a piece of paper and told the pilot to place it in a corner of the boat and when he arrived at the city of Barcelona to make sure to destroy the note. The pilot thanked the Ramban and started the voyage back. On the way he became drowsy and fell asleep. Meanwhile, the boat reached the port of Barcelona but because the paper was still in the boat, the little dinghy jumped the dock and began riding through the city streets. Thousands of people rushed out of their homes to witness the wonder of wonders, a boat riding on dry land. The noise of the tumult awoke the pilot who immediately grabbed the paper and burned it. The boat remained standing in the center of the city and to this day it is enshrined on a pedestal as one of the great wonders of the age.
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