Jewish Law Annual Volume 20

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Avbryt Send e-post. Les mer. Om boka Volume 17 of The Jewish Law Annual adds to the growing list of articles on Jewish law that have been published in volumes of this series, providing English-speaking readers with scholarly articles presenting jurisprudential, historical, textual and comparative analysis of issues in Jewish law. The two articles were translated into Hebrew by M. Twersky and J. Harris eds. Abrahams, Jewish Ethical Wills Philadelphia: , vol. A sickly child, Judah was not able to match the weighty study load that his brothers were expected to master. In Castile, as Isaac Israeli the Younger, an astronomer and student of the Rosh, informs us, the situation was markedly different.

It would thus seem that when the Rosh and his family arrived in Toledo, the local rabbis and judges decided the law in accordance with the rulings of the Maimonidean code, the Mishne Torah. The source of this information is the Tzeida Laderekh, written in the second half of the fourteenth century in Castile by R.

Menahem b. Both in the introduction and in the body of the work, R. Israeli, Yesod Olam Berlin: , part 2, sec. For additional sources on the situation in Castile, see pp. In the section of the book that deals with study of the Torah, R. In commenting on what the practical significance of this position would be in a country such as Castile, he remarks: And in particular in all the land of Sefarad [i. Asher, who came from Ashkenaz. And [here] he studied and taught and raised many students, he and his sons after him. Zerah makes a similar statement regarding R.

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He found a situation where those responsible for halakhic matters had little direct knowledge of the Talmud, and did not regularly engage in its study. The local halakhic authorities and rabbinical court judges made their legal decisions mainly on the basis of a single work, a work that neither included references to the Talmud, nor took into consideration the widely accepted insights of the French Tosafists on the Talmud. Zerah, Tzeida Laderekh Warsaw: , part 1, sec. And see B.

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The literary evidence with regard to R. Jonah Gerondi is particularly interesting. After R. Jonah emigrates from Catalonia to Toledo, he seems to teach his students the Rif hence the commentary known as Talmidei Rabeinu Yona and not the Talmud. Solomon b. Adret, one of his most celebrated students.

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Jonah and his writings on the Talmud, see I. As already noted, R. As part of his mission to regenerate Talmud study in Castile, the Rosh took it upon himself to edit a set of authorized Tosafot, known as Tosfot Harosh or Shita Larosh, which also contained the opinions of his teacher R. Meir of Rothenburg, and those of the sages of Spain, Nachmanides and R.

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Meir Abulafia. He will generally begin with a quotation from the Rif, but then proceed to suggest an alternate understanding based on the Tosafot. In a letter to a friend in Germany, R. Eliezer b. Joel Halevi of Mainz? It is here that the Rosh elaborates on his understanding of the hilkheta kevatraei principle, namely, the principle that the law is decided in accordance with the view of the most recent decisors.

As the Rosh understands it, this includes the medieval commentators as well. For a complete bibliography and a discussion of the relevance of this theoretical debate, see Galinsky, n. See also S. Roth ed. Ta-Shma also elaborates on the relationship between the works of the Rosh and the Rif in Ta-Shma , n. See also D.

follow link Isaac of Corbeil, a thirteenth century French work. He argues that over-reliance on such works is a sure recipe for error, which he attributes to two distinct sources. In the second instance, the Rosh was asked to comment on a decision that a certain R. Matzliah had issued based on his understanding of the Mishne Torah. The Rosh, after suggesting that the still remains to be done, however, to identify the places where the Rosh uses but does not quote this work by name, and to gauge its overall influence on his Psakim.

See, e. Beer ed. Emanuel Rackman Jerusalem: , —82, to note just two. The view expressed by the Rosh in these two responsa is essentially the same.

His criticism is not directed at the authors of the halakhic handbooks, but rather, at the rabbis and judges who do not bother to consult the primary talmudic sources before reaching a decision. However, in the second responsum, addressing himself to Maimonides, the Rosh expresses a serious reservation: For he [Maimonides] did not do as the other authors did. They brought proofs [for their decisions] and directed [the reader] to the talmudic source of their decisions, thus allowing [the reader] to comprehend the important and the true.

He, however, wrote as though he were a prophet, without explanations and without sources. And all who read [his work] believed that they understood his intent, but this is not so. For whoever is not attentive to what is [written] in the Talmud cannot truly comprehend [his words], and will [ultimately] fail in deciding the law. Clearly, this is no longer a critique aimed at the conduct of decisors, but a critique aimed at Maimonides himself, for facilitating a practice that the Rosh viewed as extremely reprehensible.


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It was to be a legal summary written so as to assist students in their studies, that is, to clarify and facilitate retention of the practical significance of the talmudic sugya. It was also to serve as a useful reference work for learned scholars that would facilitate recollection of the law when the need arose. It seems to me that the Rosh neither expected nor intended that his book be studied independently and used in place of consulting the Talmud itself.

In his last will and testament, his son R. Jacob, author of the Turim, describes a program of study that reflects a similar purpose: And for every tractate [of the Talmud] that you study, write a short [summary] of the legal decisions [in that tractate]. And [regarding] those law that are mixed in [i. The Rosh had instituted in the yeshivot a more comprehensive and demanding curriculum. Here too, I have substituted my own translation.

Jacob, necessarily contradicts this approach; see n. On this commentary, see I. This is evident from the fact that as a handbook for the practicing rabbinical court judge, his Psakim would have been virtually useless. It was bulky, written in the style of learned essays, arranged in accordance with the structure of the Talmud, and formulated in the language of the Talmud.

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We can well understand how these features precluded it from being an effective replacement for the concise, highly accessible and easy to use Mishne Torah. Even if the Rosh had recognized the necessity, in Spain, of a handbook or code that could be used for deciding the law,20 he for one would not have been able to compose it. The Rosh instead chose to focus his energies on producing a new cadre of scholars and rabbis. He may have believed that he could train his students not to feel bound by the code of R.

Moses the Spaniard Maimonides , and confident enough to decide the law in accordance with the Talmud and the teachings of their own master namely, the Rosh. The work still followed the order of the Talmud, but was written in Hebrew, and stated only the final halakha without any of the complex argumentation leading up to it. The Turim was a work with more affinities to the codes used in Sefarad than to the summaries of Ashkenaz. It was structured in a logical and practical manner, without direct links to the Talmud. The difference between R. Jacob came to Spain at a younger age, and was thus more sensitive to the needs of the community, and therefore strongly motivated to address the needs of the rabbinical community.

At the end of the introduction, he offers the following description of the state of the judiciary: There are those who wish to lay down the law, but alas, the cloud of enlightenment does not rest upon them, as they are intellectually incapable of comprehending the law. And there are those upon whom the cloud of enlightenment does rest, but who willfully decide to extinguish their light, due to fear of deciding the law that is outstretched before them. Jacob addresses two distinct groups of judges: the unqualified and those who lack confidence. I cannot be sure as to the identity of the first group.


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  8. He may have been referring to the longtime Spanish judges and others who did not study in the yeshiva his father established.