July 27, 2007

Today in Jewish History - Av 12

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In 1263, the famous Disputation began between Nachmanides and a Jewish convert to Christianity, Pablo Christiani. King James of Spain had authorized the religious debate, to try to "prove" which religion is true. Nachmanides reluctantly agreed to take part, only after being assured by the king that he would have full freedom of expression. Nachmanides won the battle, but lost the war: His arguments earned the king's respect (and a prize of 300 gold coins), but the Church ordered Nachmanides to be tried on charges of blasphemy, and he was forced to flee Spain. At age 72, Nachmanides moved to spend his final years in Jerusalem.