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Rashi By Maurice Liber Characters: 74874

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It might be supposed that the Jews of France, chased from their fatherland, and so deprived of their schools, would have disappeared entirely from the scene of literary history, and that the intellectual works brought into being by their activity in the domains of Biblical exegesis and Talmudic jurisprudence would have been lost forever. Such was by no means the case. It has been made clear that the French school exerted influence outside of France from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, and we shall now see how the Jews of France, saving their literary treasures in the midst of the disturbances, carried their literature to foreign countries, to Piedmont and to Germany. When the Jews of Germany were expelled in turn, Poland became the centre [center sic] of Judaism, and the literary tradition was thus maintained without interruption up to the present time. It is an unique example of continuity. The vitality of Judaism gained strength in the misfortunes that successively assailed it,

Per damna, per caedes, ab Ipso

Ducit opes auimumque ferro.

A large number of Jews exiled from France established themselves in the north of Italy, where they formed distinct communities faithful to the ancient traditions. Thus they propagated the works of the French rabbis. Rashi's commentaries and the ritual collections following his teachings were widely copied there, and of course, truncated and mutilated. They served both as the text-books of students and as the breviaries, so to speak, of scholars.

They also imposed themselves, as we have seen, upon the Spanish rabbis, who freely recognized the superiority of the Jews of France and Germany in regard to Talmudic schools. Isaac ben Sheshet[150] said, "From France goes forth the Law, and the word of God from Germany." Rashi's influence is apparent in the Talmudic writings of this rabbi, as well as in the works, both Talmudic and exegetic in character, of his successor Simon ben Zemah Duran,[151] and in the purely exegetic works of the celebrated Isaac Abrabanel (1437-1509), who salutes in Rashi "a father in the province of the Talmud." It was in the fifteenth century that some of the supercommentaries were made to Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch. The most celebrated-and justly celebrated-is that of Elijah ben Abraham Mizrahi, a Hebrew scholar, mathematician, and philosopher, who lived in Turkey. His commentary, says Wogue, "is a master-piece of logic, keen- wittedness, and Talmudic learning."

However, as if the creative force of the Jews had been exhausted by a prolific period lasting several centuries, Rashi's commentaries were not productive of original works in a similar style. Accepted everywhere, they became the law everywhere, but they did not stimulate to fresh effort. Scholars followed him, as the poet said, in adoring his footsteps from afar.

For if his works had spent their impulse, his personality, on the other hand, became more and more popular. Legends sprang up ascribing to him the attributes of a saint and universal scholar, almost a magician.[152] He was venerated as the father of rabbinical literature. In certain German communities, he, together with a few other rabbis, is mentioned in the prayer recited in commemoration of the dead, and his name is followed by the formula, "who enlightened the eyes of the Captivity by his commentaries." Rashi's commentaries not only exercised profound influence upon the literary movement of the Jews, but also wove a strain into the destinies of the Jews of France and Germany. During this entire period of terror, the true middle ages of the Jews, for whom the horrors of the First Crusade, like a "disastrous twilight," did not draw to an end until the bright dawn of the French Revolution, the thing that sustained and animated them, that enabled them to bear pillage and exploitation, martyrdom and exile, was their unremitting study of the Bible and the Talmud. And how could they have become so passionately devoted to the reading of the two books, if Rashi had not given them the key, if he had not thus converted the books into a safeguard for the Jews, a lamp in the midst of darkness, a bright hope against alien persecutions?

Rashi's prestige then became so great that the principal Jewish communities claimed him as their own,[153] and high-standing families alleged that they were connected with him. It is known that the celebrated mystic Eleazar of Worms (1160-1230) is a descendant of his. A certain Solomon Simhah, of Troyes, in 1297 wrote a casuistic, ethical work in which he claims to belong to the fourth generation descended from Rashi beginning with Rashi's sons-in-law. The family of the French rabbi may be traced down to the thirteenth century. At that time mention is made of a Samuel ben Jacob, of Troyes, who lived in the south of France. And it is also from Rashi that the family Luria, or Loria, pretends to be descended, although the titles for its claim are not incontestably authentic. The name of Loria comes, not, as has been said, from the river Loire, but from a little city of Italy, and the family itself may have originated in Alsace. Its head, Solomon, son of Samuel Spira (about 1375), traced his connection with Rashi through his mother, a daughter of Mattathias Treves, one of the last French rabbis. The daughter of Solomon, Miriam (this name seems to have been frequent in Rashi's family), was, it appears, a scholar. It is certain that the family has produced illustrious offspring, among them Yosselmann of Rosheim (about 1554), the famous rabbi and defender of the Jews of the Empire; Elijah Loanz (about 1564-1616), wandering rabbi, Kabbalist, and commentator; Solomon Luria[154] (died in 1573 at Lublin), likewise a Kabbalist and Talmudist, but of the highest rank, on account of his bold thinking and sense of logic, who renewed the study of the Tossafists; and Jehiel Heilprin (about 1725), descended from Luria through his mother, author of a valuable and learned Jewish chronicle followed by an index of rabbis. He declared he had seen a genealogical table on which Rashi's name appeared establishing his descent from so remote an ancestor as Johanan ha-Sandlar and including Rashi in the steps.[155] This family, which was divided into two branches, the Heilprins and the Lurias, still counts among its members renowned scholars and estimable merchants.

As if the numberless copies of his commentaries had not sufficed to spread Rashi's popularity, the discovery of printing lent its aid in giving it the widest possible vogue. The commentary on the Pentateuch is the first Hebrew work of which the date of printing is known. The edition was published at Reggio at the beginning of 1475 by the printer Abraham ben Garton. Zunz reckoned that up to 1818 there were seventeen editions in which the commentary appeared alone, and one hundred and sixty in which it accompanied the text. Some modifications were introduced into the commentary either because of the severity of the censors or because of the prudence of the editors. Among the books that the Inquisition confiscated in 1753 in a small city of Italy, there were twenty-one Pentateuchs with Rashi's commentary.

All the printed editions of the Babylonian Talmud are accompanied by Rashi's commentaries in the inner column and by the Tossafot in the outer column.

Rashi's authority gained in weight more and more, and he became representative in ordinary, as it were, of Talmudic exegesis. This fact is made evident by a merely superficial survey of the work Bet Yosef (House of Joseph), which is, one may say, an index to rabbinical literature. Rashi is mentioned here on every page. He is the official commentator of the Talmudic text. The author of the Bet Yosef, the learned Talmudist and Kabbalist Joseph ben Ephraim Karo (born 1448, died at Safed, Palestine, at 87 years of age), places Rashi's Biblical commentary on the same plane as the Aramaic translation of the Bible. He recommends that it be read on the Sabbath, at the same time as the Pentateuch and the Targum. Luria goes even further. According to him, when the Targum and Rashi cannot be read at the same time, preference should be given to Rashi, since he is more easily understood, and renders the text more intelligible.

Rashi's commentary, therefore, entered into the religious life of the Jews. It is chiefly the commentaries on the Five Books of Moses and the Five Megillot, the Scriptural books forming part of the synagogue liturgy, that were widely circulated in print and were made the basis of super-commentaries. The best of these are the super-commentary of Simon Ashkenazi, a writer of the seventeenth century, born in Frankfort and died at Jerusalem, and the clear, ingenious super-commentary of Sabbatai ben Joseph Bass, printer and bibliographer, born in 1641, died at Krotoszyn in 1718.

The other representatives of the French school of exegetes have fallen into oblivion. Rashi alone survived, and what saved him, I greatly fear, were the Halakic and Haggadic elements pervading his commentary. An editor who ventured to undertake the publication (in 1705) of the commentary on the Pentateuch by Samuel ben Meir,[156] complains in the preface that his contemporaries found in it nothing worth occupying their time. Rashi's commentary was better adapted to the average intellects and to the Talmudic culture of its readers.

Rashi's Talmudic commentary, also, was more generally studied than other commentaries, and gave a more stimulating impulse to rabbinical literature. Teachers and masters racked their brains to discover in it unexpected difficulties, for the sake of solving them in the most ingenious fashion. This produced the kind of literature known as Hiddushim, Novellae, and Dikdukim, subtleties. A rabbi, for example, would set himself the task of counting the exact number of times the expression "that is to say" occurs in the commentary on the first three Talmudic treatises. Jacob ben Joshua Falk (died 1648), who believed Rashi had appeared to him in a dream, attempted in his "Defense of Solomon" to clear the master of all attacks made upon him. Solomon Luria and Samuel Edels (about 1555-1631), or, as is said in the schools, the Maharshal and the Maharsha, explain the difficult passages of Rashi's Talmudic commentary, sometimes by dint of subtlety, sometimes by happy corrections. Still more meritorious are the efforts of Joel Sirkes (died in 1640 at Cracow), who often skilfully altered Rashi's text for the better.

By a curious turn in affairs it was the Christians who in the province of exegesis took up the legacy bequeathed by Rashi. While grammar and exegesis by reason of neglect remained stafionary among the Jews, the humanists cultivated them eagerly. Taste for the classical languages had aroused a lively interest in Hebrew and a desire to know the Scriptures in the original. The Reformation completed what the Renaissauce had begun, and the Protestants placed the Hebrew Bible above the Vulgate. Rashi, it is true, did not gain immediately from this renewal of Biblical studies; greater inspiration was derived from the more methodical and more scientific Spaniards. But his eclipse was only momentary. Richard Simon, who gave so vigorous an impulse to Biblical studies in France, and who, if Bossuet had not forestalled him, would possibly have originated a scientific method of exegesis, profited by the commentaries of the man he called major et praestantior theologus. All the Christians with pretensions to Hebrew scholarship, who endeavored to understand the Bible in the original, studied Rashi, not only because he helped them to grasp the meaning of the text, but also because in their eyes he was the official rabbinical authority. He was quoted, abridged, and plagiarized - a clear sign of popularity. Soon the need arose to render him accessible to all theologians, and he was translated into the academic language, that is, into Latin. Partial translations appeared in great number between 1556 and 1710. Finally, J. F. Breithaupt made a complete translation, for which he had recourse to various manuscripts. His work is marked by clear intelligence and great industry. This translation as well as the commentary of Nicholas de Lyra might still be consulted with profit by an editor of Rashi.

Since the Christians did not devote themselves to the Talmud as much as to the Bible, they made but little use of the Talmudic commentaries of the French rabbi. Nevertheless John Buxtorf the Elder, who calls Rashi consummatissimus ille theologiae judaicae doctor, frequently appeals to his authority in the "Hebrew and Chaldaic Lexicon." Other names might be mentioned besides Buxtorf's.

Nor did Rashi fail to receive the supreme honor of being censored by the Church. Under St. Louis autos-da-fe were made of his works, and later the Inquisition pursued them with its rigorous measures. They were prohibited in Spain and burnt in Italy. The ecclesiastical censors eliminated or corrected whatever seemed to them an attempt upon the dignity of religion. At the present time many French ecclesiastics know Rashi only for his alleged blasphemies against Christianity.

While the Catholics and Protestants who possessed Hebrew learning applied themselves to the study of Rashi, among the Jews

"he was always revered, always admired, even as an exegete, but he was admired to so high a degree that no one thought of continuing his work and of deepening the furrow he had so vigorously opened. It seemed as though his commentary had raised the Pillars of Hercules of Biblical knowledge and as though with him exegesis had said its last word. During this period the grammatical and rational study of the word of God fell Into more and more neglect, and its real meaning became Increasingly obscured. The place of a serious and sincere exegesis was taken by frivolous combinations, subtle comparisons, and mystical interpretations carried out according to preconceived notions and based on the slightest accident of form in the text. Rashi had many admirers, but few successors."[157]

Isaiah Horwitz (1570-1630), whose ritual and ethical collection is still very popular in Eastern Europe, compares Rashi's commentaries to the revelation on Sinai. "In every one of his phrases," he says, "marvellous [marvelous sic] things are concealed, for he wrote under Divine inspiration." His son Sabbatai Sheftel is even more striking in his expressions; he says, "I know by tradition that whoever finds a defect in Rashi, has a defect in his own brain." It was related that when Rashi was worried by some difficult question, he shut himself up in a room, where God appeared to throw light upon his doubts. The apparition came to him when he was plunged in profound sleep, and he did not return to his waking senses until some one brought him an article from the wall of his room. Thus a superstitious, sterile respect replaced the intelligent and productive admiration of the earlier centuries.

To revive the scientific spirit and the rational study of the Scriptures, a Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) was needed. With the year 1780, when his translation of the Pentateuch and his commentary upon it appeared, the renaissance of Jewish learning commenced; even the study of the Talmud, regenerated by the critical spirit of the time, was resumed. Mendelssohn himself drew largely upon Rashi's commentary, correcting the text when it seemed corrupt, trying to decipher the French laazim, and paying attention to the essential meaning of Rashi's explanations, either for the sake of completing or defending them, or for the sake of refuting them in the name of taste and good sense. His collaborators and disciples, the Biurists,-as they are called, after Biur, the general title of their works- desirous of reconciling the natural meaning of the text with the traditional interpretations, often turned to good account the views of the French commentator. These writings, which renewed the rational study of Hebrew and the taste for a sound exegesis, worthily crown the work begun by the rabbi of the eleventh century. At this day the Perush of Rashi and the Biur of Mendelssohn are the favorite commentaries of orthodox Jews.

Since Mendelssohn the glorious tradition of learning has not been interrupted again, and Rashi's work continues to be bound up with the destinies of Jewish literature. The nineteenth century will make a place for itself in the annals of this literature; for the love of Jewish learning has inspired numerous scholars, and the renown of most of them is connected with Rashi. Zunz (1794- 1886) became known in 1823 through his essay on Rashi, a model of critical skill and learning, despite inevitable mistakes and omissions. Geiger 158 won a name for himself by his studies on the French exegetic school. Heidenheim[159] wrote a work distinguished for subtlety, to defend the explanations of Rashi from the grammatical point of view. Samuel David Luzzatto (1800- 1865), with his usual brilliancy, made a warm defense of Rashi; and, finally, I. H. Weiss[160] dedicated to him a study dealing with certain definite points in Rashi's life and work. When Luzzatto took up the defense of Rashi with ardor, it was to place him over against Abraham Ibn Ezra, who, in Luzzatto's opinion, was too highly exalted. The considerable progress made by exegesis and philology rendered many scholars aware of the defectiveness of Rashi's Biblical commentaries; while Ibn Ezra was more pleasing to them on account of his scientific intellect and his daring. But the French commentator lost nothing of his authority in the eyes of the conservative students of Hebrew, who continued to see in him an indispensable help. This influence of Rashi's contains mixed elements of good and evil. In some measure he created the fortune of Midrashic exegesis, and he is in a slight degree responsible for the relative stagnation of Biblical as compared with Talmudic studies in Eastern Europe.

In Talmudic literature, on the contrary, Rashi's authority is uncontested, in fact, cannot be contested. Its stimulating impulse is not yet exhausted. While the Talmudists of the old school saw in him the official, consecrated guide, the Rapoports,[161] the Weisses, the Frankels,[162] all who cultivated the scientific and historic study of the Talmud, lay stress upon the excellence of his method and the sureness of his information. About twelve years ago, an editor wanted to publish the entire Talmud in one volume. He obtained the authorization of the rabbis only upon condition that he printed Rashi's commentary along with the text.

Thus Rashi's reputation has not diminished in the course of eight centuries. On the first of August, 1905, it was exactly eight hundred years that the eminent scholar died at Troyes. As is proper, the event was marked by a commemoration of a literary and scientific character. Articles on Rashi appeared in the Jewish journals and reviews. Such authorities as Dr. Berliner, Mr. W. Bacher, and others, sketched his portrait and published appreciations of his works. Dr. Berliner, moreover, issued a new edition of Rashi's Pentateuch Commentary in honor of the anniversary, and, as was mentioned above, Mr. S. Buber celebrated the occasion by inaugurating the publication of the hitherto unedited works of Rashi, beginning with the Sefer ha-Orah.


The beautiful unity of his life and the noble simplicity of his nature make Rashi's personality one of the most sympathetic in Jewish history. The writings he left are of various kinds and possess various interests for us. His Decisions and Responsa acquaint us with his personal traits, and with the character of his contemporaries; his religious poems betray the profound faith of his soul, and his sensitiveness to the woes of his brethren. But above all Rashi was a commentator. He carved himself a niche from which he has not been removed, and though his work as a commentator has been copied, it will doubtless remain impossible of absolute imitation. Rashi, then, is a commentator, though as such he cannot aspire to the glory of masters like Maimonides and Jehudah ha-Levi. But the task he set himself was to comment upon the Bible and the Talmud, the two living sources that feed the great stream of Judaism, and he fulfilled the task in a masterly fashion and conclusively. Moreover he touched upon nearly all branches of Jewish literature, grammar, exegesis, history, and archaeology. In short his commentaries became inseparable from the texts they explain. For, if in some respects his work despite all this may seem of secondary importance and inferior in creative force to the writings of a Saadia or a Maimonides, it gains enormously in value by the discussion and comment it evoked and the influence it exercised.

Rashi, one may say, is one of the fathers of rabbinical literature, which he stamped with the impress of his clear, orderly intellect. Of him it could be written: "With him began a new era for Judaism, the era of science united to profound piety."

His influence was not limited to scholarly circles. He is one of the rare writers who have had the privilege of becoming truly popular, and his renown was not tarnished, as that of Maimonides came near being on account of bitter controversies and violent contests. He was not the awe-inspiring master who is followed from afar; he was the master to whom one always listens, whose words are always read; and the writers who imitate his work - with more or less felicity - believe themselves inspired by him. The middle ages knew no Jewish names more famous than those of Jehudah ha-Levi and Maimonides; but how many nowadays read their writings and understand them wholly? The "Diwan" as well as the "Guide of the Perplexed" are products of Jewish culture grafted upon Arabic culture. They do not unqualifiedly correspond to present ideas and tastes. Rashi's' work, on the contrary, is essentially and intimately Jewish. Judaism could renounce the study of the Bible and of that other Bible, the Talmud, only under penalty of intellectual suicide. And since, added to respect for these two monuments, is the difficulty of understanding them, the commentaries holding the key to them are assured of an existence as along [long sic] as theirs.

Rashi's writings, therefore, extend beyond the range of merely occasional works, and his influence will not soon die out. His influence, indeed, is highly productive of results, since his commentaries do not arrest the march of science, as witness his disciples who enlarged and enriched the ground he had ploughed so vigorously, and whose fame only adds to the lustre [luster sic] of Rashi's name. The field he commanded was the entire Jewish culture of France - of France, which for a time he turned into the classic land of Biblical and Talmudic studies. "In him," says M. Israel Levi, "is personified the Judaism of Northern France, with its scrupulous attachment to tradition, its naive, untroubled faith, and its ardent piety, free from all mysticism." Nor was Rashi confined to France; his great personality dominated the whole of Judaism. Dr. M. Berliner writes: "Even nowadays, after eight hundred years have rolled by, it is from him we draw our inspiration,- we who cultivate the sacred literature,- it is his school to which we resort, it is his commentaries we study. These commentaries are and will remain our light in the principal department of our intellectual patrimony."

Doubtless Rashi is but a commentator, yet a commentator without peer by reason of his value and influence. And, possibly, this commentator represents most exactly, most powerfully, certain general propensities of the Jewish people and certain main tendencies of Jewish culture. Rashi, then, has a claim, universally recognized, upon a high place of honor in our history and in our literature.

NOTE (ESW): This graphic has been reformatted to fit within 66 columns.





/ \

Simon the Elder Daughter=Isaac


Samuel Samuel Solomon (Rashi) Nathan

| | 1040-1105 |

| | ___________|____________ |

| | / \ |

Simhah Meir=Jochebed Rachel Miriam=Judah (Ribam)

of Vitry about| (or Bellassez) | Azriel

| 1065- | divorced by Eliezer |

| 1135 | (or Jocelyn) |

| | __|_______

| _____|___________________________ / \ (?)

| / \ Yomtob Miriam

Samuel=Miram Samuel Jacob Isaac Solomon | |

| (Rashbam) about (Ribam) | |

| about 1100-1171 Left 7 Judah |

| 1085-1158 children | |

| / |

Isaac (Ri the Elder) / Dolce=Eleazar

About 1120-1195 Isaac of Worms

| | d.1195 d.1220

| |

Elhanan |

d. 1184 |

| Judah Sir Leon of Paris

| 1166-1224





A critical revision of Rashi's works remains to be made. They were used to such an extent, and, up to the time when printing gave definiteness to existing diversities, so many copies were made, that some of the works were preserved in bad shape, others were lost, and others again received successive additions.

1. BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES. - They cover nearly all the twenty - four books of the Bible.

Job. - "On Job the manuscripts are divided into series, according to whether or not they break off at xl. 28 of the text. The one Series gives Rashi's commentary to the end; the other, on the ground that Rashi's death prevented him from finishing his work, completes the commentary with that of another rabbi, R. Jacob Nazir" (Arsene Darmesteter). Geiger attributes this Supplementary commentary, which exists in several versions, to Samuel ben Meir; others attribute it to Joseph Kara. Some regard it as a compilation; others, again, assert that the entire commentary was not written by Rashi.

Ezra and Nehemiah.- Some authors deny that Rashi composed commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah.

Chronicles. - It is certain that the commentary on Chronicles, which does not occur in the good manuscripts, and which was published for the first time at Naples in 1487, is not to be ascribed to Rashi. This was observed by so early a writer as Azulal, and it has been clearly demonstrated by Weiss (Kerem Hemed, v., 232 et seq.). It seems that Rashi did not comment upon Chronicles at all (In spite of Zunz and Weiss). Concerning the author of the printed commentary there is doubt. According to Zunz (Zur Geschichte und Literatur, p.73), it must have been composed at Narbonne about 1130-1140 by the disciples of Saadla (?).

2. TALMUDIC COMMENTARIES. - Rashi did not comment on the treatises lacking a Gemara, namely, Eduyot, Middot (the commentary upon which was written by Shemaiah), and Tamid (in the commentary on which Rashi is cited). It is calculated that, in all, Rashi commented on thirty treatises (compare Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, s. v., Weiss, and below, section B, 2).

Pesahim. - The commentary on Pesahim from 99b on is the work of Rashbam.

Taanit. - So early a writer as Emden denied to Rashi the authorship of the commentary on Taanit; and his conclusions are borne out by the style. There was a commentary on Taanit cited by the Tossafot, which forms the basis of the present commentary; and this may have belonged to the school of Rashi.

Moed Katan. - The commentary on Moed Katan is attributed by Reifmann to Gershom (Monatsschrift, III). According to B. Zomber (Rashi's Commentary on Nedarim and Moed Katan, Berlin, 1867), who shows that Gershom's commentary is different, the extant commentary is a first trial of Rashi's and was later recast by him. This would explain the differences between the commentary under consideration and the one joined to the En Jacob and to Rif, which is more complete and might be the true commentary by Rashi. These conclusions have been attacked by Rabbinowicz (Dikduke Soferim, II), who accepts Reifmann's thesis. Zomber replied in the Moreh Derek, Lyck, 1870; and Rabbinowicz in turn replied in the Moreh ha-Moreh, Munich, 1871. To sum up, both sides agree in saying that the basis of the present commentary was modified by Rashi or by some one else. According to I. H. Weiss various versions of Rashi's Commentary were current. The most incomplete is the present one. That accompanying Rif is more complete, though also not without faults.

Nedarim. - The commentary on Nedarim, from 22b to 25b, may contain a fragment by R. Gershom. Nor, to judge from the style, does the remainder seem to belong to Rashi. Good writers do not cite it. Reifmann attributes it to Isaiah da Trani, Zomber to the disciples of Rashi.

Nazir. - Several critics deny to Rashi the authorship of the commentary on Nazir. Although there are no strong reasons for so doing, the doubt exists; for differences are pointed out between this and the other commentaries. P. Chajes holds that Rashi's disciples are responsible for the commentaries on Nedarim and Taanit.

Zebahim. - The commentary on Zebahim is corrupt and has undergone interpolations; but there are no strong reasons why it should not be ascribed to Rashi.

Baba Batra. - Rashbam completed his grandfather's commentary on Baba Batra from 29a on, or, rather, later writers supplemented Rashi's commentary with that of his grandson. This supplement is to be found at the Bodlelan in a more abridged and, without doubt, in a more authentic form.

Makkot. - The commentary on Makkot, from 19b on, was composed by Judah ben Nathan (see note in the editions). It seems that a commentary on the whole by Rashi was known to Yomtob ben Abraham.

Horaiot. - The commentary on Horaiot was not written by Rashi (Reifmann, Ha-Maggid xxi. 47-49).

Meilah. - It is more certain that the commentary on Meilah was not written by Rashi. Numerous errors and additions have been pointed out. According to a manuscript of Halberstamm it would belong to Judah ben Nathan.

Keritot and Bekorot. - The commentary on Keritot is not Rashi's, and that on Bekorot, after 57b, according to Bezalel Ashkenazi, is also not Rashi's.

3. PIRKE ABOT. - The commentary on the Pirke Abot, printed for the first time at Mentone In 1560, was cited by Simon ben Zemah Duran (d. 1444) as being by Rashi. But Jacob Emden (d. 1776) denies Rashi's authorship, and justly so. One manuscript attributes the commentary to Isaiah da Trani, another to Kimhi. Though the numerous copies present differences, it is not impossible that they are derived from a common source, which might be Rashi's commentary; for despite some diffuseness in certain passages, the present commentary is in his style. The Italian laazim may have been made by Italian copyists.

4. BERESHIT RABRAH. - The commentary on Bereshit Rabbah. According to A. Epstein (Magazin of Berliner, xiv. Ha-Hoker I), this commentary, incorrectly printed (the first time at Venice, 1568), is composed of two different commentaries. The basis of the first is the commentary of Kalonymos ben Sabbatai, of Rome; the second is anonymous and of later date. A third commentary exists in manuscript, and is possibly of the school of Rashi.

Mention should be made of a commentary on the Thirtytwo Rules by R. Jose ha-Gelili, attributed to Rashi and published in the Yeshurun of Kobak.

5. RESPONSA. - The Responsa of Rashi have not becn gathered together into one collection. Some Responsa mixed with some of his decisions occur in the compilations already cited and in the following Halakic compilations: Eben ha-Ezer by Eliezer ben Nathan (Prague, 1670), Or Zarua by Isaac ben Moses of Vienna (I-II. Zhitomir, 1862; III-V, Jerusalem, 1887), Shibbole ha-Leket by Zedekiah ben Abraham Anaw (Wilna, 1887, ed. Buber), Mordecai, by Mordecal ben Hillel (printed together with Rif), Responsa by Meir of Rothenberg (Cremona, 1557; Prague, 1608; Lemberg, 1860; Berlin, 1891-92; Budapest, 1896), etc. (see below, section B, and Buber, Introd. to Sefer ha-Orah, pp.152 et seq.)

6. In rabbinical literature we find quotations from Responsa collections bearing upon special points in Talmudic law, such as ablutions, the making and the use of Tefillin, the Zizit, the order of the Parashiot, the blessing of the priests, the ceremony of the Passover eve, the slaughter of animals, the case of diseased animals, impurity in women, etc.

7. These collections have penetrated in part into the SEFER HA- PARDES, the MAHZOR VITRY, and the other compilations mentioned in chap. IX. Upon this point see chap. IX and articles by A. Epstein and S. Poznanski published in the Monatsschrift, xli.

8. THE LITURGICAL POEMS by Rashi, some of which are printed in the collections of Selihot of the German ritual, are enumerated by Zunz in Synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1865, pp.252-4.

Three books have been wrongly attributed to Rashi: a medical

work, Sefer ha-Refuah; a grammatical work, Leshon

Limmudim, actually composed by Solomon ben Abba Mari of

Lunel; and an entirely fanciful production called Sefer ha-

Parnes (incorrect for Sefer ha-Pardes).


1. THE BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES 1. - According to A. Darmesteter "twenty different editions have been counted of Rashi's commentary, complete or partial, without the Hebrew text. As for the editions containing the Bible together with Rashi's commentary, their number amounts to seventeen complete editions and 155 partial editions, of the latter of which 114 are for the Pentateuch alone." The list of these editions is to be found in Furst, Bibliotheca judaica (Leipsic, 1849, 2d vol. 1851), II, pp.78 et seq.; Steinschneider, Catalogue of the Hebrew Books in the Bodleian Library (Berlin, 1852-1860), col. 2340-57; Ben Jakob, Ozar ha-Sefarim (Wilna, 1887), pp.629 et seq. The first two works enumerate also the super- commentaries on Rashi.

II. Latin Translations. - Besides numerous partial translations, also listed in the works of Furst and Steinschneider, a complete translation exists by J. F. Breithaupt, Gotha, 1710 (Pentateuch) and 1713-1714 (Prophets and Hagiographa) in quarto.

III. German Translations. - L. Haymann, R. Solomon Iarchi. Ausfuhrlicher Commentar uber den Pentateuch. 1st vol., Genesis, Bonn, 1883, in German characters and without the Hebrew text. Leopold Dukes, Rashi zum Pentateuch, Prague, 1833-1838, in Hebrew characters and with the Hebrew text opposite. J. Dessaner, a translation into Judaeo-German with a vowelled text, Budapest, 1863. Some fragmentary translations into Judaeo-German had appeared before, by Broesch, in 1560, etc.

2. THE TALMUDIC COMMENTARIES. - All the editions of the Talmud contain Rashi's commentary. Up to the present time forty-five complete editions of the Talmud have been counted.

3. RESPONSA. - Some Responsa addressed to the rabbis of Auxerre were published by A. Geiger, Melo Hofnaim, Berlin, 1840. Twenty-eight Responsa were edited by B. Goldberg, Hofes Matmonim, Berlin, 1845, thirty by J. Muller, Reponses faites par de celebres rabbins francais et lorrains des xie et xiie siecles, Vienna, 1881. Some isolated Responsa were published in the collection of Responsa of Judah ben Asher (50a, 52b), Berlin, 1846, in the Ozar Nehmad II, 174, in Bet-Talmud II, pp.296 and 341, at the end of the study on Rashi cited below in section C, etc.

4. THE SEFER HA-PARDES was printed at Constantinople in 1802 according to a defective copy. The editor Intercalated fragments of the Sefer ha-Orah, which he took from an often illegible manuscript.

THE MAHEOR VITRY, the existence of which was revealed by Luzzatto, was published according to a defective manuscript of the British Museum, under the auspices of the literary Society Mekize Nirdamim, by S. Hurwitz, Berlin, 1890-1893, 8.


Book I. Chap. 1. - On the situation of the Jews In France in general, the following works may be read with profit: Zunz, Zur Geschichte und Literatur, Berlin, 1845. Gudemann, Geschichte des Erziehungswesens und der Cultur der Juden in Frankreich und Deutschland, Vienna, 1880, 8 (Hebrew translation by Frledberg under the title Ha-Torah weha- Hayim, ed. Achiassaf, Warsaw, 1896).

Berliner, Aus dem Leben der deutschen Juden im

Mittelalter, Berlin, 1900.

Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Jewish

Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1896. Concerning

Gershom ben Judah, see Gross, Gallia judaica, Paris,

1897, pp.299 et seq.

Chap. II-IV.-Works in general. Besides the accounts of Rashi in the works of the historians of the Jewish people and literature (especially Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, Leipsic, 1861, vol. vi; English translation publ

ished by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1895, vols. iii and iv; Hebrew translation by L. Rabbinovitch, Warsaw, 1894, vol. iv), there are two most important studies of Rashi:

1. Zunz, Salomon ben Isaac, genannt Rascht, in Zunz's Zeitschrift fur die Wissenschaft des Judenthums, 1823, pp.277-384. Additions by Zunz himself in the preface to Gottesdienstliche Vortrage, and in the catalogue of the library at Leipsic, by Berliner in the Monatsschrift xi and xii, by Klein, ibid. xi. One appreciates the originality of this study all the more if one reads in the Histoire litteraire de la France, xvi., the passage in which are collected all the legends retailed concerning Rashi in the world of Christian scholars at the time when Zunz wrote.

Zunz's essay was translated into Hebrew and enriched with notes by Samson Bloch, Vita R. Salomon Isaki, Lemberg 1840, 8. Second edition by Hirschenthal, Warsaw, 1862. The essay was abridged by Samuel Cahen in the Journal de l'Institute historique, I, and plagiarized by the Abbe Etienne Georges, Le rabbin Salomon Raschi (sic) in the Annuaire administratif … du departement de l'Aube, 1868. Compare Clement-Mullet, Documents pour servir a l'histoire du rabbin Salomon fils de Isaac in the Memoires de la Societe d'Agriculture … de l'Aube, xix.

2. I. H. Weiss, R. Salomon bar Isaac (in Hebrew), in the Bet Talmud II, 1881-82, Nos. 2-10 (cf. iii. 81). Off- print under the title Biographien judischer Gelehrten, 2nd leaflet, Vienna, 1882.

Other works on Rashi are: M. H. Friedlaender, Raschi, in Judisches Litteraturblatt, xvii. M. Grunwald, Raschi's Leben und Wirken, ibid. x.

Concerning the date of Rashi's death, see Luzzatto, in the Orient, vii. 418.

Book II. Chap. V. - Concerning the laazim see A. Darmesteter in the Romania I.(1882), and various other essays reprinted in the Reliques scientifiques, Paris, 1890, vol. i. The deciphering of the laazim by Berliner in his edition of the commentary on the Pentateuch is defective, and that of Landau in his edition of the Talmud (Prague, 1829; 2d ed., 1839) is still more inadequate. A. Darmesteter's essay on the laazim of all the Biblical commentaries will soon appear.

Chap. VI. - On Moses ha-Darshan there is a monograph by A.

Epstein, Vienna 1891; and on Menahem ben Helbo one by S.

Poznanski, Warsaw, 1904.

Concerning the Biblical commentaries see:

A. Geiger, Nite Naamanim, oder Sammlung aus alten

schatzbaren Manuscripten, Berlin, 1847.

Parshandata, die Nordfranzosische Ezegetenschule,

Leipsic, 1855.

Antoine Levy, Die Exegese bei den franzosischen Juden vom

10 bis 14 Jahrhundert (translated from the French),

Leipsic, 1873.

Nehemiah Kronberg, Raschi als Exeget … , Halle

[1882]. In Winter und Wunsehe, Die judische Litteratur,

ii, Berlin, 1897, Die Bibelexegese, by W. Bacher.

Chap. VII. - See especially the above mentioned essay of Weiss,

and by the same author, Dor Dor we-Dorschaw, Zur Geschichte

der judischen Tradition, Vienna, iv, 1887.

In Winter und Wunsche ibid. ii, Die Halacha in

Italien, Frankreich und Deutschland, by A. Kaminka.

Chap. VIII. - A. Berliner, Zur Charakteristik Raschi's in Gedenkbuch zur Erinnerung an D. Kaufmann (published also separately), Breslau, 1900.

Chap. IX.-Weiss, ibid.; Epstein in the

Monatsschrift, xli.

Chap. X. - Zunz, Die Synagogale Poesie, Berlin, 1855.

Clement-Mullet, Poesies ou Selichot attribuees a

Raschi, in the Memoires de la Societe academique de

l'Aube, xx; published by itself, Troyes, 1856.

Book III. Chaps. XI-XII. - The history of Rashi's influence forms part of the general history of later rabbinical literature. Mention, therefore, may be made of the following works, besides the history of Graetz, the works of Geiger and of A. Levy, and the references in Winter und Wunsche, II:

Zunz, Zur Geschichte und Literatur.

Renan [and Neubauer], Les rabbins francais (Histoire

litteraire de la France), Paris, 1877.

L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique,

Paris, 1881.

I.H. Weiss, Dor Dor we-Dorshaw, iv and V.

Gross, Gallia judaica, Paris, 1897, passim.

Berliner, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Raschi-Commentare,

Berlin, 1903.

It is impossible to enumerate all the monographs and all the magazine articles. Concerning Samuel b. Meir, see Rosin, R. Samuel ben Meir als Schrifterklarer, Breslau, 1880; concerning Jacob Tam, see Weiss, Rabbenu Tam, in the Bet Talmud, iii; concerning Jacob b. Simson, see Epstein in the Revue des etudes juives, xxxv, pp.240 et seq.; concerning Shemaiah, see A. Epstein in the Monatsschrift, xli, pp.257, 296, 564; concerning Simson b. Abraham, see H. Gross in the Revue des etudes juives, vii and viii; concerning Judah Sir Leon, see Gross in Berliner's Magazin, iv and V.

The influence of Rashi upon Nicholas de Lyra and Luthcr is the subject of an essay by Siegfried in Archiv fur wissenschaftliche Erforsehung des Alten Testaments, i and ii. For Nicholas de Lyra alone, see Neumann in the Revue des etudes juives, xxvi and xxvii.

Concerning Rashi's descendants, see Epstein, Mishpahat

Luria et Kohen-Zedek in Ha-Goren, i, Appendix.


1 See W. Bacher, Raschi una Maimuni, Monatsschrift,

XLIX, pp.1 et seq. Also D. Yellin and I. Abrahams,

Maimonides. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication

Society of America, 1903.

2 A legend has it that Vespasian made some Jews embark on three

vessels, which were then abandoned on the open sea. One of

the ships reached Aries, another Lyons, and the third

Bordeaux. See Gross, Gallia judaica, p.74.

3 See, for example, p.164.

4 See Note 10.

5 Israel Levi.

6 Theodor Reinach, La Grande Encyclopedie, s. v. Juifs.

7 However, there had been Talmudists in France before this period.

6 In the first quarter of the eleventh century Burchard, bishop of Worms, wrote the famous compilation which became one of the sources of canonical law. Concerning Lorraine, its Jews and Talmudical schools, see chap. II, p.46 et seq.

9 Not, as has been said with more ingenuity than verity, from Rosh Shibte Iehudah, chief of the tribes of Judah. Others, transposing the letters of "Rashi," called him Yashar, "the Just." He himself signed his name Solomon bar (not ben) Isaac, or Berabi Isaac. Once he wrote his signature Solomon of Troyes.

10 Since "lune," moon, in Hebrew "yerah," is contained in "Lunel," a number of scholars coming from Lunel bore the surname "Yarhi." The city, in fact, is sometimes called "Jericho," as a result of that system of geographical nomenclature to which we owe the name "Kiryat Yearim" for Nimes (derived from the Latin nemus), and "Har" for Montpellier, etc. Through an analogy, based not so much upon the significance of the words as upon a sort of assonance, Spain, France, and Britain in rabbinical literature received the Hebrew names of Sefarad, Zarfat, and Rifat. Likewise the city of Dreux is called Darom, and so on.

11 A spurious Rashi genealogy from Johanan ha-Sandlar was worked out in Italy at the end of the seventeenth century. In Appendix I is given a table of the connections and immediate descendants of Rashi. In chap. XII, p.212 et seq. there are references concerning some of his later and more doubtful descendants.

12 For this passage, see p.112.

13 See pp.61-2. Also Berliner, Aus dem Leben der deutschen Juden. The data that follow are taken from the Kolbo, the Mahzor Vitry, and other sources cited by Zunz, Zur Geschichte, pp.167 et seq.

14 See p.81.

15 See Epstein, Die nach Raschi genannten Gebaude in Worms.

16 This is the epoch which marks the arrival of Jews in Great Britain. They went there, it seems, In the suite of William the Conqueror (1066) - They always remained in touch with their co-religionists on the Continent, and were sometimes called by these "the Jews of the Island." For a while they enjoyed great prosperity, which, joined to their religious propaganda, drew upon them the hatred of the clergy. Massacred in 1190, exploited and utterly ruined in the thirteenth century, they were finally exiled in 1290.

17 See p.39.

18 Surnamed "Segan Leviya," supposed-doubtless incorrectly-to have come originally from Vitry in Champagne. He was a very conscientious pupil of Eliezer the Great. Died about 1070.

19 He is the author of the famous Aramaic poem read at the Pentecost, beginning with the words Akdamot Millin. He must not be confounded with his contemporary of the same name, Meir ben Isaac (of Orleans?), to whom also some liturgic poems are attributed. Another rabbi of Orleans, Isaac ben Menahem (according to Gross, Gallia judaica, pp.32-3, probably the father of Meir), was older than Rashi, who quotes some of his Talmudic explanations, and some of the notes written on his copy of the Talmud. There is nothing to prove, as Gross maintains, that Rashi was his pupil. It is not even certain that he knew him personally.

20 See p.77 for Rashi's relations to his teachers.

21 A Responsum signed by Rashi shows that he was the tutor of the children of a certain Joseph, whose father had been administrator of the community.

22 For a long time it was thought and said that once when Rashi was sick, he dictated a Responsum to his daughter. As Zunz was the first to show, this story about Rashi's secretary is based upon the faulty reading of a text. Another legend proved false! Science is remorseless. See Sefer ha- Pardes, ed. Constantinople, 33d, where one must read, uleven bat (Vav Lamed Bet Final_Nun, Bet Tav) not velajen biti (Vav Lamed Kaf Final_Nun, Bet Tav Yod) - See Zunz, Zur Geschichte, p.567, and Berliner, Hebraische Bibliographie, XI; also, Monatsschrift, XXI.

23 As has been shown (chap. II, p.51) Rashi may have begun to

write commentaries upon the Talmud during his sojourn In

Lorraine. However that may be, it is difficult to

dlstinguish in this huge production between the work of his

youth and that of his maturity or old age.

24 That is to say "very beautiful." It is a name frequently

borne by French Jewesses in the middle ages. Some give the

name of her husband as Ephraim. In chap. XI, pp.187 et

seq. the sons-in-law and grandchildren of Rashi will

receive further consideration. See also Appendix I.

25 According to Jacob Molin ha-Levi, called Maharli, rabbi of

Mayence, later of Worms, where he died in 1427. Christian

marriages bore many points of resemblance to Jewish

marriages. See the work of Lecoy de la Marche, La chaire

francaise au moyen-age.

26 See pp.165-6.

27 The economic influence of the Crusades has also been

exaggerated. The Crusaders in Palestine came into relations

with scarcely no other Turks than those but slightly

civilized, and thus saw little of the brilliant Arabic

civilization. The Jews certainly contributed more than the

Crusades to the development of commerce and the increase of


28 According to a less popular form of the legend, Godfrey of

Bouillon disguised himself as a beggar, and obtained entrance

into Rashi's home by asking for alms. But the night before,

the visit of the lord had been announced to Rashi in a dream,

and on his approach Rashi arose and hailed him by the title

of hero. It was in this way that Joan of Arc recognized

Charles VII lost in the crowd of his courtiers.

29 See chap. VIII, pp.164 et seq. for further details. The same chapter throws more light on Rashi's spiritual nature.

30 Concerning this enigmatical kinsman of Rashi, see chap. XI, pp.186-7.

31 See chap. VI, p.125.

32 The mistake arises from the fact that certain cursive writing is called "Rashi script." It was generally employed in copying rabbinical works, among others, the works of Rashi. The term indicates the wide popularity enjoyed by the works of Rashi.

33 See p.45.

34 See chap. VI, p.105.

35 The Megillat Taanit is a collection of ephemerides or calendars, indicating the days on which happy events occurred, and on which it is forbidden to fast. The little work, written in Aramaic, but enlarged by Hebrew glosses, is attributed by the Talmud to Hananiah ben Hezekiah ben Garon, or Gorion (first century); the nucleus about which the book was built up seems to go back as far as Maccabean times.

36 See Note 94.

37 Collection of texts not incorporated in the Mishnah, the order of which is followed, now to explain it, now to complement it, and sometimes to contradict it. The redaction of the Tosefta is attributed to R. Hiyyah bar Abba (third century).

38 When the aim of the Midrash is to interpret the legal and ritual portions of the Pentateuch, it is called Halakic; it is Haggadic when its aim is to interpret the narrative and moral portions (see chap. VI, p.107) - The Halakic Midrashim nevertheless contain much Haggadah. The redaction of the Mekilta, the commentary on Exodus, is attributed to R. Ishmael; that of the Sifra, or Torat Kohanim, the commentary on Leviticus, to R. Judah ben Ilai; that of the Sifre, the commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy, to R. Simon ben Yohai and to the school of Rab, all scholars of the second and third centuries. The Sifra that Rashi employed was more complete than the one now available, and he cites a second Sifre, at present unknown.

39 The Midrash Rabba, or Rabbot, consists of Haggadic compilations on the Pentateuch and the Five Rolls; the elements of this Midrash are comparatively ancient, but its definite redaction without doubt does not go farther back than the eighth century. Rashi did not know those portions of the Midrash Rabba which explain the Books of Exodus and Numbers.

40 By this name are designated Haggadic collections for various distinguished times and seasons of the year. There are two Pesiktas, the Pesikta attributed to R. Kahana, a Babylonian Talmudist, though its redaction falls in the seventh century, and the Pesikta Rabbati, or Great Pesikta, doubtless compiled in Southern Italy in the ninth century. Rashi knew the first of these collections; and his citations aided Zunz in the reconstruction he made of this Midrash before the discovery of a manuscript by Buber confirmed his clear-sighted suppositions.

41 Name of a Midrash on the Pentateuch, redacted by the pupils of R. Tanhuma. Quite recently the endeavor was made to prove that Rashi did not know the Tanhuma either in the current text or in the more extended text published by Buber in 1885, and that he called Tanhuma the Midrash Yelamdenu, which is lost, and which is said to be the prototype of the two versions of the Tanhuma. See Grunhut, in Festschrift Berliner, pp.156-63.

42 A Midrashic compilation, partly mystic in character, of the

eighth century, but attributed to the Tanna R. Eliezer ben

Hyrkanos the Great.

43 Collection in three "gates," relating to history, especially

to Biblical chronology. Its redaction is commonly attributed

to R. Jose ben Halafta (second century).

44 Sherira bar Hananiah, Gaon of Pumbedita, about 930-1000, a scholar of great activity, who left Responsa. The one bearing upon the chronology of the Talmudic and Gaonic periods is the chief source for the history of those times.

45 Hai Gaon, born about 940, collaborator, then successor, of his father. He wrote much, and his reputation reached Europe. Philosopher, scholar, didactic poet, and commentator of the Bible, he left authoritative Responsa, Talmudic commentaries, collections of rabbinical jurisprudence, and a Hebrew dictionary, which has been lost.

46 Aha or Ahai of Shabha wrote, about 760, one hundred and ninety-one Sheeltot (Questions), casuistic homilies, connected with the Five Books of Moses.

47 Yehudai bar Nahman, Gaon of Sura (about 759 or 762), eminent

Talmudist and adversary of the Karaites. He wrote Responsa

and possibly the Halakot, a collection of legal and ritual

rules. He is said to have been blind.

48 Isaac Abrabanel was possibly the only Jew who unmasked

Josephus and revealed his lies and flatteries. Judah Sir

Leon (see chap. XI, p.194) recognized that Kalir was not

identical with the Tanna Eleazar ben Simon.

49 Of Tahort, Northern Africa. He lived at the end of the ninth century and the beginning of the tenth.

50 See chap. VI, p.127 and Note 91.

51 Exception can scarcely be made in favor of the preamble to the Song of Songs and the shorter one to Zechariah. In the one he briefly characterizes the Haggadic method; in the other he speaks of the visions of Zechariah, which, he says, are as obscure as dreams.

52 At the end of the gloss the explanations of Menahem ben Saruk and Dunash ben Labrat are reproduced. This is without doubt a later addition. For these two Spanish grammarians, see Note 91.

58 Evidently it was not Rashi who commented on the work of Alfasi, his contemporary. It was a German Jew, who abridged the commentary of the French rabbi in order to make it harmonize with the work of the illustrious Spanish Talmudist. For several treatises the German Jew had more authentic texts than are now available. He sometimes cites Rashi by name. See J. Perles, Die Berner Handschrift des kleinen Aruch, in Jubelschrift Graetz, 1887.

54 See Note 53.

55 The Gallo-Roman dialects are divided into two groups, the dialects of the langue d'oc (southern) and those of the langue d'oil (northern). It was Dante who introduced this somewhat irrational distinction based upon the different ways of saying "yes," that is, oc and oil (Latin, hoc and ille).

56 In the middle of the eleventh century, it must be added,

differences between neighboring dialects were not yet very


57 James Darmesteter, Introduction to the Reliques

scientifiques, of his brother Arsene Darmesteter (Paris,

1890), vol. I, p. XVIII.

58 Eliezer ben Nathan, of Mayence (about 1145), correspondent of

Meir and of his sons Samuel and Jacob, author of the work

Eben ha-Ezer, whence the passage quoted has been taken

(Pp.107, p.36a).

59 The Persian word Parshandata, name of one of the sons

of Haman, was divided into Parshan and data,

"expounder of the Law." This epithet is applied to Rashi in

the poem attributed to Ibn Ezra, cited in chap. XI, p.207.

60 Rashi seems also to have known about the Targum of the

Pseudo-Jonathan upon the Pentateuch. See Note 72.

61 Concerning the development of Biblical studies in general,

among Jews as well as Christians, see pp.127 et seq.

62 L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese

biblique, p.250.

63 See p.38. This Midrash is taken from the Tanhuma.

64 Psalms cxi. 6. Rashi cites the Biblical verses themselves, often only in part; but he did not know the division of the Bible into chapters and verses, which was made at a later day and was of Christian origin. Sometimes Rashi cites a verse by indicating the weekly lesson in which it occurs, or by giving the paragraph a title drawn from its contents, or from the name of the hero of the narrative.

65 Proverbs viii. 22.

66 Jeremiah ii. 3.

67 The rule, however, has exceptions. Even according to Rashi's opinion, the word is in the absolute in Dent. xxxiii. 21 and Is. xlvi. 10. It is true that strictly speaking one might say the exceptions are only apparent.

68 "We will praise and we will celebrate."

69 For the meaning of this expression, see p.107. The source here is still the Talmudic treatise Sanhedrin 91b.

70 Rashi here cites Is. xiv. 25, inaccurately.

71 Here Rashi might have cited also I Kings xii. 17.

72 This interpretation, taken without doubt from Pseudo-Jonathan (see Note 60), explains the demonstrative pronoun. What follows is taken from the Mekilta (see Note 38).

73 In fact the Targum translates it, "I will build Him a temple."

74 Still according to the Mekilta. The Song of Songs is often

applied by Jewish exegetes to the events of the Exodus from


75 The French laaz is corrupted in the editions. The

reading should be peri shnt Pe Resh Yod, Shin Noon

followed by gershayim Samech.

76 Name of the last portion of Exodus. Rashi alludes to Ex. xxxviii. 27.

77 Without doubt the murex, which gives the purple dye. The details are taken from the Talmud (treatise Menahot 44a at the top).

78 A fantastic bit of etymology taken from the Talmud.

79 Ex. xxvii. 20.

80 Next to last portion of Exodus (xxx. 22 et seq.).

81 Portion preceding next to last of Exodus.

82 Ex. xxviii. 6.

83 lb. and 15. The first of these passages is noteworthy, Rashi says about It: "If I tried to explain how these two objects are made according to the text, the explanation would be fragmentary, and the reader would not get an idea of the whole. So I will first give a complete description of them, to which the reader can refer. After that I will explain the text verse by verse. The ephod resembles the robe worn by the Amazons,'" etc.

84 L. Wogue.

85 This is a distinction made in Hebrew but not rendered in the English version.

86 I Sam. xxiii. 14.

87 And not "shadow of death," which is etymologically impossible, though it is a rendition employed by most commentators.

88 See Note 91.

89 Collection of Midrashim long attributed to Simon Kara, father of a disciple of Rashi. This valuable compilation, which deals with the entire Bible, dates without doubt from the first half of the thirteenth century. An unsuccessful attempt has been made to prove that Rashi knew the Yalkut. His silence shows, on the contrary, that it was a later work. The Simon (sometimes Simson) whom he quotes is not the author of the Yalkut.

90 Commentary on Gen. xxxvii. 1.

91 Menahem ben Saruk, of Tortosa, lived at Cordova about 960 with the celebrated minister and Maecenas, the Jew Hasdai Ibn Shaprut. He was the author of the Mahberet, one of the first complete lexicons of the Biblical language, full of interesting grammatical digressions.

His rival, Dunash ben Labrat, born at Fez, was both poet and grammarian. He wrote "Refutations" against Menahem, in rhyme and prose, which were full of impassioned criticisms and abundantly displayed fresh, correct insight. The polemics of these two scholars were continued by their disciples and were ended by Jacob Tam, Rashi's grandson.

92 Abul-Walid Merwan ibn Djanah (among the Jews, R. Jonah), the most eminent representative of the Spanish school, born at Cordova about 985; he studied at Lucena, and died at Saragossa about 1050. Besides small polemic works, he left a long one, "The Book of Detailed Research," including a grammar and a dictionary. Ibn Dianab was an original and profound grammarian. Unfortunately his disciples in popularizing weakened him.

Judah ben David (Abu Zakaria Yahia lbn Dand) Hayyoudj, who may be looked upon as the master of Djanah, was originally from Fez but lived for the greater time at Cordova (end of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century). He inspired remarkable disciples, among others the statesman Samuel ha-Naggid Ibn Nagdela. He was the first to discover the triliteral character of all Hebrew roots.

93 Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1092-1167), born at Toledo, died at Rome. He left Spain in about his fortieth year, and travelled through Europe, reaching also Asia and Africa. The European countries he visited are Italy, France, England, and the Provence. It was on his second visit to Italy that he died at Rome. He wrote for his living and by way of compensation to his hosts. He was a philosopher, excellent mathematician, clever poet, and highly subjective writer. In the domain of philology he brought to the knowledge of Christian Europe the works of his great predecessors, and if he was not a very original grammarian, he was at least a clear-sighted exegete. His Biblical commentaries are held in high esteem.

Concerning Rashi and Ibn Ezra see also chap. XI, pp.206-7, and chap. XII, p.220.

94 At this point I think it well to give once for all a summing up of Talmudic literature. The Talmud is the united mass of the documents and texts of the oral law. It comprises the Mishnah and the Gemara, the latter being called also Talmud. The Mishnah, a collection in six parts and forty-nine treatises, is the work of numerous generations of scholars. Its final redaction (setting aside somewhat later additions) was made by Judah the Saint, or Rabbi (about 150-210). The texts not incorporated by Rabbi are called Baraitas. The Gemara is the commentary and the development of the Mishnab, which it follows step by step, in discussing it and completing its statements. There are two Gemara collections: one elaborated in Palestine under the influence of R. Johanan (199-279) and terminated toward the end of the fourth century, which Is called the Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud; the other drawn up in Babylonia under the influence of Rab and of Samuel (third century), and brought to a conclusion about 500 through the initiative of R. Ashi and his disciples; this Is called the Babylonian Talmud. The latter covers the greater part of the Mishnah. It is by far the more important of the two Talmuds from the juridic point of view, and it is the one that has been the chief subject of studies and commentaries. The Talmud comprises two elements: the Halakah, "rule of conduct," legislation, and the Haggadah, "exposition," which embraces non-Halakic exegesis, history, legend, profane learning, etc. The scholars whose discussions are given in the Mishnah are called Tannaim, and those who figure only in the Gemara, Amoraim.

95 See Appendix II, pp.232-4.

96 See p.91.

97 Hananel ben Hushiel, of Kairnan, first half of the eleventh century, commented upon the Talmud and the Pentateuch.

98 This false notion gained currency through the existence of Responsa addressed by Nathan to a certain Solomon ben Isaac: but this Solomon is an Italian. See Vogelstein and Rieger, Geschichte der Juden in Rom, I, pp.366 et seq. For further Information concerning Nathan ben Jehiel, see Note 121. With regard to recurring names for different individuals - the plague of Jewish literature - it should be said that a French rabbi named Solomon ben Isaac lived about a century after Rashi, who corresponded with R. Tam. He has been confounded with his illustrious predecessor of the same name. See Gross, Gallia judaica, p.34. Buber, Introduction to the Sefer ha-Orah, p.13.

99 See Notes 37 and 38.

100 Another name for the Sadduceans, from their chief Boethus

(first century of the Common Era)

101 Psalm lxxxi. 5, which refers to the new moon. Now, in every

case at least two witnesses are necessary.

102 Lev. xxiii. 40.

103 Ex. xv. 2.

104 "And shalt burn with fire the city" (Deut. xiii. 16).

105 Sukkah 32b. These references placed In parentheses in Rashi's commentary are the work of the printers, who adopted the conventional division into folios. Rashi refers only to the treatise or chapter, at most simply saying "above," or "below."

106 It is the Latin "scopac."

107 Mal. i. 13.

108 Lev. i. 2.

109 Is. lxi. 8.

110 A city of Judea, called also Tower of Simon.

111 Fifth chapter of Hullin, 79a.

112 The French toile, curtain.

113 Concerning Hananel, see Note 97. R. Isaac b. Jacob alFasi (the initials form Rif) was born in 1013 near Fez, whence his name. In 1088 he went to Spain, where he directed the important school of Lucena. He died in 1103, lamented by all his fellow-citizens. Besides Responsa, he left the "Halakot," or "Little Talmud," which Is a pruning down of the entire Talmud, so as to present only what is useful for establishing the norm, deduced by Alfasi himself. It is an important work, which still enjoys great authority. I have already remarked (Note 53) that the Rashi commentary was abridged to make it fit the text of Rif.

114 In these words Rashi displaces another lesson.

115 Parasang is a Persian measure equivalent to 5250 metres [meters sic], a fact of which Rashi seems to have been ignorant.

116 According to Hagigah 13a.

117 In the first case it refers to Ahriman, the spirit of evil, in the second, to Ormuzd, the spirit of good among the Persians. Lillit in Oriental mythology is a female demon, who wanders at night and attacks chiefly children.

118 Isaac ben Judah, his master par excellence. Concerning Rashi's teachers see chap. I, p.29; chap. II, pp.49 et seq.; chap. III, p.58, etc.

119 Dan. iii. 1.

120 David Ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz), rabbi of Cairo, who died, it is said, at Safed in 1589 at the age of 110 years. He left an Important collection of Responsa.

121 Nathan ben Jehiel, of Rome, born about 1035, died In the

first years of the twelfth century, author of the Aruk, a

highly valued Talmudic dictionary, In which he explains the

words of Talmudic and Midrasbic literature, as well as the

Halakic and Haggadic passages presenting difficulties. The

numerous quotations are no less valuable than the

explanations. Concerning Alfasi, see Note 113.

122 Quoted from Bezalel Ashkenazl, who lived In Egypt (died in

1530). He compiled a Talmudic collection called Shitta

Mekubezet, in which he gathered together extracts from

French, Spanish, and other rabbis. Before him Isaac ben

Sheshet (see Note 150) had said: "The greatest light that has

come to us from France is Rashi. Without his commentary, the

Talmud would be a closed book" (Responsa, No.394).

123 Menahem ben Zerah (about 1312-1385), son of a Jew expelled from France, wrote in Spain a Talmudic manual entitled Zedah la-Derek.

124 ConcernIng Rashi's correspondents see chap. II, pp.51-2, and chap. III, p.57.

125 See chap. I, p.20, and chap. III, p.56.

126 See chap. III, p.67.

127 And not, as has been supposed, that of Cavaillon, In the county Venaissin, where, possibly, there were not yet any Jews, and where, at all events, Rashi was not known, as was the case throughout the south of France, until after his death.

128 An application, according to the Talmud, of Eccl. ii. 14.

129 This resume is taken from Epstein on Shemaiah, in Monatsschrift, XLI, also that of Sefer ha-Orah. Concerning the Machirites, see chap. I, p.29, and chap. II, p.52; concerning Shemaiah, chap. XI, pp.186-7. The three communities are sometimes called by the initials of their names, "communities of Shum" shum (Shin followed by gershayim Vav followed by gershayim Final_Mem)

In connection with the Sefer ha-Pardes must be

mentioned the work bearing the title of Likkute ha-

Pardes (Extracts from Paradise), a compilation edited in

Italy by the disciples of Isaiah da Trani.

130 See chap. IV, p.84.

131 L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique, pp.254-5.

131 See chap. IX, pp.171-2.

133 See p.162.

134 Rameru, or Ramerupt, situated six miles from Troyes on a tributary of the Aube. Of old it formed an entire county, proof of which is furnished by the ditches surrounding it and the ruins of a castellated stronghold. At the present day it is the chief city of the Departement de l'Aube.

135 The sort of literature designated by this word will be defined later on, pp.191-2.

136 Chap. VI, p.125.

137 Concerning the Biblical exegesis of Samuel ben Meir see pp.196-7.

138 See Note 91.

139 It has been said that "Tossafot" signifies "supplements to

Rashi;" this is not true, but it is noteworthy that the

expression Is open to such a misconstruction.

140 Dampierre on the Aube, at present part of the canton of

Rameru, counted, after the twelfth century, among the most

important lordships in the region.

141 The name "Morel," customary among English Jews, corresponds to the Hebrew name "Samuel."

142 See pp.202-3.

143 The numeric value of the letters composing the word Gan in Hebrew is 53, the number of Pentateuch lessons in the annual cycle.

144 See chap. VII, pp.157-8.

145 Concerning Rashi and Ibn Ezra, see chap. VI, p.131.

146 David Kimhi (1160-1235), of Narbonne, a philosopher, a

follower of Maimonides, a grammarian, and an exegete, who

popularized the works of the Spaniards by his Biblical

commentaries, his grammar, and his dictionary. He enjoyed

and still enjoys a deserved reputation for clearness and


147 Moses ben Nahman, also called Bonastruc da Porta, born at

Gerona in 1195, was a Talmudist, Kabbalist, philosopher, and

physician. In 1263 he carried on a disputation at Barcelona

with the apostate Pablo Christiano. On this account he went

to live in Palestine, where he died in 1270. His was one of

the most original personalities in Spanish Judaism.

148 Solomon ben Abraham ben Adret (1235-1310), born at Barcelona, rabbi and head of an influential school there. The extent of his knowledge as well as his moderation won for him a wide reputation, proof of which is afforded by his intervention as arbiter in the quarrel between the partisans and the adversaries of Maimonides, and by his numerous Responsa, of which about three thousand have been published. Besides, he wrote Talmudic commentaries and casuistic collections.

149 Asher ben Jehiel, disciple of Meir of Rothenburg, born about 1250, died in 1327 at Toledo, where he was rabbi. Besides numerous and important Responsa he wrote Talmudic commentaries and a compendium of the Talmud bearing his name.

150 His initials read Ribash (1336-1408). He exercised rabbinical functions in several cities of Spain. After the persecutions of 1391, he went to Algiers, where he was appointed rabbi. He was well-informed in philosophy, but he owes his great reputation chiefly to his Talmudic knowledge, as is proved by his numerous Responsa.

151 Rashbaz, born in 1361 on Majorca, of a family originally from the Provence. At first he practiced medicine, but, reduced to poverty by the persecutions of 1391, he resigned himself, not without scruples, to accepting the emoluments of a rabbi. He died in 1444 at Algiers, where he had been the co-worker, then the successor, of Ribash. He is known chiefly for his commentaries and his Responsa. The passage in question is taken from these Responsa, No.394. See also Note 122.

152 See chap. II, p.31, and chap. IV, p.80.

153 See chap. II, pp.31-2.

154 The daughter of Solomon Luria married a brother of the famous Talmudist of Cracow, Moses Isserles (1530-1572) - I will add that the families of Treves, Pollak, Heller, and Katzenelienbogen also maintain that they are connected with Rashi. On the descendants of Rashi, see Epstein, Mishpahat Lurie we-Kohen-Zedek, In Ha-Goren, I, Appendix.

155 See chap. II, p.37.

156 This defective edition was replaced by a good critical

edition by David Rosin (Breslan, 1881)

157 L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese

biblique, p.319.

158 Abraham Geiger, born in 1810 at Frankfort, died at Berlin in 1874, one of the finest Jewish scholars of the nineteenth century. His prolific activity was exerted in all provinces of Jewish history and literature. Besides works upon the Talmud, the poets, the philosophers, and the exegetes of the middle ages, he wrote numerous articles in two journals, which he successively edited. Theologian and distinguished preacher, he promoted the reform of the Jewish cult in Germany.

159 Wolf Heidenheim (1757-1832), Talmudist, Hebrew scholar, and editor. He deserves the sobriquet of the Henri Estienne of Hebrew letters. The commentary in which he defends Rashi is entitled Habanat ha-Mikra. Only the beginning, up to Gen. xliii. 16, has appeared.

160 Isaac Hirsch Weiss (1815-1905), professor at the Bet ha- Midrash of Vienna, wrote many studies scattered through two literary magazines edited by him successively, and also an Important History of Jewish Tradition, in five volumes.

161 Solomon Judah Rapoport, born in 1790, died rabbi of Prague in 1867. Together with Zunz, he was the founder of modern Jewish science. A distinguished man of letters, he was known above all for his biographies of celebrated rabbis, for historic and archaeologic studies, and for an unfinished encyclopedia.

162 Zechariah Frankel, born at Prague in 1801, after 1854 director of the Seminary at Breslau, where he died in 1875. He left historic studies on the Mosaic-Talmudic law, introductions to the Septuagint, the Jerusalem Talmud, and the Mishnah, and numerous critical and historical works in the Programs of the Seminary and in the Monatsschrift, a magazine edited by him from 1851 on.

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