Reprinted from The Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.
Solomon Ibn Adret was a Spanish rabbi, theologian, and kabbalist (1235-1310), known, after the initial letters of his Hebrew name, as Rashba. Adret was one of the most outstanding scholars of medieval Jewry. During the fierce debates on the question of the study of philosophy, Adret steered a middle course, discouraging this study ("What did the Greeks know of God?") and yet, in a ban he pronounced in Barcelona (1305), he declared it forbidden only to those under the age of 25.
Similarly, with regard to the kabbalah, although Adret was a kabbalist and composer of a famous kabbalistic prayer, he took pains to conceal his kabbalistic leanings as much as possible.
He is best known as a prolific writer of responsa on all aspects of Jewish law. Typical of Adret’s understanding of Judaism–traditional but not uninfluenced by philosophical formulations–is his statement regarding inwardness:
"The first stage in the matter of intention, to which every Jew attains, is that all know and acknowledge that there is a God, blessed be He, whose existence is necessary [not contingent]’ He created the world by His will and gave the Torah to His people Israel at Sinai, a Torah of truth with righteous judgments and statutes. To Him do we belong and Him we worship. He commanded us to offer ourselves up to Him when we call on His name Him we acknowledge and to Him we do pray since everything is from Him. His providence extends over us all and He looks down upon our deeds to requite us for them and grant us our recompense. Every Jew should have this in mind when he prays."
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