Today, Thursday, 14th of Kislev 5783 is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Aguilar ז”ל , the anniversary of his passing.
In eulogy to Rabbi Moses Raphael de Aguilar (1615 – 1679), the most outstanding Sephardi educator of classical European culture. He introduced his students to the Trivium Ψ, the medieval and Renaissance curriculum of Liberal Arts for the study of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, to educate future generations in the appreciation of literary composition.
His knowledge of logic assisted the teachers of his time, such as Isaac Orobio and Menasseh Ben Israel, in adding understanding and elegant style to the arguments they contributed to the Republic of Letters. He possessed a good collection of Greek sources, like Aristotle and Plato; Latin sources, including Seneca, Virgil, Quintilian Horace, and most works of Cicero; and other universal authors such as Augustine. Book Three of his Treaty of Aristotle’s Logic (p. 137) proclaims the argument of his vision:
“Science is the light of the soul, the ornament of virtues, the pillar of religion, an immovable rock, by which the Israelites could preserve themselves for so many centuries by the Grace of God amid their enemies. Although it is true that Science has always been valued by the people of God, when applied to meditation and the contemplation of the holiest Law of Sinai, attending to other studies of human letters is however an obligation, to keep them in our hearts, when they don’t oppose the truth.
Not for embellishment (the Law does not need it), but to beautify the style, much of it in academies and their teachers, whose rigorous members can spend some time with these exercises to become universally knowledgeable in the difficulties communicated to them, even if for no other purpose than to know the fallacies and sophistical arguments.
Rabbi Aguilar is greatly missed in a generation where modernism buries the Latin language, the millenary Lingua franca of scholars; racialism and anti-colonialism erase European culture, and the woke ideology uproots the grammatical foundation of subjects’ genders.