Gersonides' ethics: The to'alot be-middot in Ralbag's biblical commentaries
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Ralbag's biblical commentaries contain lists of to'alot (useful lessons) derived from each section of the text. His lists of lessons concerning middot (ethics) are noteworthy for the scope of assertive activities subsumed under the rubric of ethics.;Ralbag's citation of Plato's Republic, of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and his possession and apparent use of Samuel ben Judah's Hebrew translation of Averroes' Middle Commentary upon the Aristotelian text all highlight that he held that the study of biblical ethics and political science can be advanced by studying philosophical texts regarding these disciplines.;Besides Maimonides and ibn Ezra, Ralbag was influenced by the Provencal Maimonidean tradition, which included Samuel ibn Tibbon and Jacob Anatoli. According to this school, ethical behavior is valued primarily as a prerequisite for the highest good: attainment of knowledge. Ralbag's useful lessons accordingly urge the obtaining the means necessary to subsequently attain such intelligibilia, which leads to immortality, understood as eternity of the acquired intellect.;Ralbag consistently praises the trait of h&dotbelow;aritzut, of the diligent zeal one should have while striving to achieve one's ends. In a universe where astral influences determine much of human behavior and even God does not know particular contingents, the only way for man to escape an indifferent fate and to achieve a measure of immortality is to strive ba-h&dotbelow;aritzut to create the conditions that can allow for intellectual attainments. Thus, actions ostensibly in disregard of or at the expense of others can be viewed positively if performed as necessary preparations for the possibility of intellectual advancement. Ralbag also sees family relations as only secondarily important.;Ralbag's ethics includes a notion of magnanimity, expressed through hashgah&dotbelow;ah over other people, endeavors to help and teach them and forgiveness for wrongs they may have committed. Gersonidean magnanimity reflects the desire to help others attain eternity for their intellects, and hence expresses itself through providing the necessities of life and teaching scientific truths, a trait the biblical heroes depicted in the Torah shared. This expression of Imitatio Dei reflects the manner in which a wise and magnanimous individual understands God's governance of the universe and ultimately helps both himself and others attain eternal life.
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