The Ramchal zt”l wrote the Sefer haDiqduq in 5303 in Amsterdam.
But this treatise was edited for the first time twenty years ago by the Rav Elazar Brieger of Brooklyn who wrote a commentary. An important event for the medaqdeqim – the students of the diqduq (the hebrew grammar) !
I knew for a long time that the Ramchal wrote a treatise on grammar and I learned a few months ago the existence of the edition of the Rav Elazar but I was unable to find this book.
To find it, I sent dozens of men worldwide. For months, they drew a blank. And the book was found in the house just in front of mine ! Boru’h Hashem !
As in all his treatises written during his stay in Amsterdam, the Ramchal uses the ramist method.
Pierre de la Ramée is a French logician of the sixteenth century who routinely used the tree diagrams like this one that maps the parts of the dialectic (logic in ramist terminology).
This graph was all the rage at the time. Everyone loved them. The tree diagrams are now ubiquitous in logic and linguistics. They allow to represent easily and naturally the whole hierarchy of concepts from what is first to what is derived : the whole to its parts, the premises to the conclusions, the principles to their applications, the rules to their exceptions, the terms to their definitions, etc.
A science exposed according to ramist manner is thus structured as a tree. Which greatly facilitates learning, understanding and memorization. This requires some effort to the author but it provides great comfort to the reader.
In 5303 (1742), the Ramchal wrote in fact a complete Trivium to the use of his talmidim of the Yeshiva Etz Haym in Amsterdam:
- Grammar : Sefer haDiqduq
- Logic : Dere’h tevounos and Sefer haHigayone (I think that the first book is actually a treatise on Mnemonic but I am perhaps alone in the world to believe that)
- Rhetoric : Sefer haMelitza
For French speaking readers, the best start for the logic of the Ramchal is, at present, the translation of Dere’h tevunos of Rabbi Yo’hanan of Yerushalayim published under the name La logique du talmud. Unlike his American colleagues who translated this sefer in English, Rabbi Lederman knows ramism !
Not very long ago, the haredim were afraid of Diqduq because it reminded them the time the Haskalah used historical criticism to try to destroy the tradition. But nowadays, the Diqduq is coming back in the haredi world. The maskilim disappeared because their descendants are assimilated and they are not interested in Diqduq. Knowing the great zeal with which sifrei Ramchal are studied by haredim and by the dati leumi, one can be certain that the Sefer haDiqduq will also be part of the program studies.
It is surprising that this book of Ramchal took so long to know the honors of printing. But the Sefer haHigayone was not printed until 1896 and Sefer haMelitza was printed after the war. It is very surprising that these books written for ba’hurim took so long time to be known. The history of the reception of the Sifrei Ramchal has many mysteries.