Part 4 out of 4
About 1360 France could not count six Jewish scholars, and the
works of the time show to what degree of degradation rabbinical
studies had sunk. With the expulsion of 1394 Charles VI dealt
the finishing stroke. Thereafter French Judaism was nothing but
the shadow of itself. Having received a mortal wound in 1306,
its life up to the final expulsion in 1394 was one long
Thus disappeared that French Judaism which contributed so large a
portion to the economic and intellectual civilization of its
fatherland during the time the sun of tolerance shone on its
horizon, but which was destined to perish the moment the greed of
princes and the fanaticism of priests, hoodwinking the masses,
united to overwhelm it. Nevertheless the three centuries of
fruitful activity were not entirely lost to the future; and the
Jews of France, who had gone in numbers to foreign lands, carried
with them their books and their ideals.
For a long time previous to the events just recorded, Rashi and
the Tossafists - the two words summing up the whole intellectual
movement of the Jews of France - had brought to all Judaism the
reputation of the academies of Champagne and of Ile-de-France.
"He brew literature in France," wrote E. Carmoly, "exercised
upon the Jewish world the same influence that French literature
exercised upon European civilization in general. Everywhere the
Biblical and Talmudic works of Troyes, Rameru, Dampierre, and
Paris became the common guides of the synagogues." Rashi's
commentaries, in especial, spread rapidly and were widely copied,
sometimes enlarged by additions, sometimes mutilated and
truncated. It is for this reason that certain commentaries of
his no longer exist, or exist in incomplete form.
In view of the fact that at the beginning of the thirteenth
century relations between remote countries and Christendom were
rare, and that the Christian and the Mohammedan worlds had
scarcely begun to open up to each other and come into contact, it
is readily understood why Rashi was not known in Arabic countries
in his life-time, or even immediately after his death, and why he
exercised no influence upon Maimonides, who died exactly a
hundred years after him. In the Orient there are no signs of his
influence until the end of the twelfth century. In 1192, barely
eighty years after Rashi's death, an exilarch had one of his
commentaries copied; and at the beginning of the thirteenth
century we find the commentator Samuel ben Nissim, of Aleppo,
making a citation from Rashi.
But it is naturally in the regions nearest to France that Rashi's
influence made itself most felt. The profound Talmudist, Zerahiah
ha-Levi, who lived at Lunel (1125-1186), rather frequently cites
"R. Solomon the Frenchman," and contents himself with merely
referring to Rashi's commentary without quoting in full, a fact
which shows that the work was widely spread in the Provence. A
number of years later, about 1245, Meir, son of Simon of
Narbonne, wrote in his apologetic work, "The Holy War": "The
commentaries are understood by all readers, for the least as well
as the most important things are perfectly explained in them.
Since their appearance, there is not a rabbi who has studied
without using them." I have already referred to the testimony of
Menahem ben Zerah; to his may be added that of another
Provencal, Estori Parhi, who left France in 1306 to visit Spain,
and wrote an interesting book of Halakah and of recollections of
his travels. About 1320, David d'Estella, philosopher and poet,
wrote: "It is from France that God has sent us a bright light for
all Israel in the person of R. Solomon ben Isaac." Rashi was
also cited in terms of praise by the brilliant commentator and
philosopher Menahem ben Solomon Meiri, of Perpignan (1249-1306),
and by the casuist and theologian Jacob de Bagnols (about 1357-
1361), grandson of David d'Estella.
From the Provence, Rashi's renown spread on the one side to
Italy, and on the other to Spain. His Biblical commentary was
used by Benjamin ben Abraham Anaw (about 1240), of Rome, whose
brother Zedekiah was the author of the Halakic and ritual
collection Shibbole ha-Leket (The Gleaned Sheaves), a work
written in the second half of the thirteenth century, which owes
much to Rashi and his successors. The celebrated scholar and
poet Immanuel ben Solomon Romi (about 1265-1330) seems to have
known Rashi, one of whose Biblical explanations he cites for the
purpose of refuting it. The influence of the French commentator
is more apparent in the works of the Italian philosopher and
commentator Solomon Yedidiah (about 1285-1330) and the
commentator Isaiah da Trani (end of the thirteenth century).
Rashi's influence was more fruitful of results in Spain, where
intellectual activity was by far more developed than in Italy.
His renown soon crossed the Pyrenees, and, curiously enough, the
Spanish exegetes, disciples of the Hayyoudjes and the Ibn-Djanahs
availed themselves of his Biblical commentary, despite its
inferiority from a scientific point of view. They did not fail,
it is true, occasionally to dispute it. This was the case with
Abraham Ibn Ezra, who possibly came to know Rashi's works during
his sojourn in France, and combated Rashi's grammatical
explanations without sparing him his wonted sharp-edged
witticisms. To Abraham Ibn Ezra has been attributed the following
poem in Rashi's honor, without doubt wrongfully so, although
Abraham Ibn Ezra never recoiled from contradictions.
A star hath arisen on the horizon of France and shineth afar.
Peaceful it came, with all its cortege, from Sinai and Zion.
.... The blind he enlightens, the thirsty delights with his
He whom men call Parshandata, the Torah's clear interpreter.
All doubts he solves, whose books are Israel's joy,
Who pierceth stout walls, and layeth bare the law's mysterious
For him the crown is destined, to him belongeth royal homage.
When one sees with what severity and injustice Abraham Ibn Ezra
treats the French commentator, one may well doubt whether this
enthusiastic eulogy sprang from his pen, capricious though we
know him to have been. "The Talmud," he said, "has declared that
the Peshat must never lose its rights. But following generations
gave the first place to Derash, as Rashi did, who pursued this
method in commenting upon the entire Bible, though he believed he
was using Peshat. In his works there is not one rational
explanation out of a thousand." As I have said, Rashi and Ibn
Ezra were not fashioned to understand each other. The
commentaries of David Kimhi contain no such sharp
criticisms. By birth Kimhi was a Provencal, by literary
tradition a Spaniard. He often turned Rashi's Biblical
commentaries to good account for himself. Sometimes he did not
mention Rashi by name, sometimes he referred to him openly.
A pompous eulogy of Rashi was written by Moses ben Nahman, or
Nahmanides, in the introduction to his commentary on the
Pentateuch; and the body of the work shows that he constantly
drew his inspiration from Rashi and ever had Rashi before his
eyes. At the same time he also opposes Rashi, either because the
free ways of the French rabbi shocked him, or because the
Frenchman's naive rationalism gave offense to his mysticism. In
fact, it is known that Nahmanides is one of the first
representatives of Kabbalistic exegesis, and his example
contributed not a little toward bringing it into credit. Even
the author of the Zohar - that Bible of the Kabbalah, which under
cover of false authority exercised so lasting an influence upon
Judaism - whether or not he was Moses of Leon (about 1250-1305)
used for his exegesis the commentary of Rashi, without, of
course, mentioning it by name, and sometimes he even reproduced
it word for word. The Kabbalist exegete Bahya or Behaia ben
Asher, of Saragossa, in his commentary on the Pentateuch (1291)
cites Rashi as one of the principal representatives of Peshat -
behold how far we have gotten from Ibn Ezra, and how Rashi is
cleared of unjust contempt.
Although Nahmanides was wrongly held to have been the disciple of
Judab Sir Leon, it was he who introduced into Spain the works and
the method of French Talmudists, whom he possibly came to know
through his masters. Thus the Spanish Talmudists, though they
boasted such great leaders as Alfasi and Maimonides, nevertheless
accepted also the heritage of the French academies. Rashi's
influence is perceptible and acknowledged in the numerous
Talmudic writings of Solomon ben Adret, and it is clearly
manifest in the commentary on Alfasi by Nissim Gerundi (about
1350), who copies Rashi literally, at the same time developing
his thought, not infrequently over-elaborating it. He also
refutes Rashi at times, but his refutation is often wrong. The
man, however, who best represents the fusion of Spanish and
French Talmudism was assuredly Asher hen Jehiel, who, a
native of the banks of the Rhine, implanted in Spain the spirit
of French Judaism, and in his abridgment of the Talmud united
Spanish tradition, whose principal representative was Alfasi,
with Franco-German tradition, whose uncontested leader was Rashi.
Since that time Talmudic activity, the creative force of which
seems to have been exhausted, has been undergoing a change of
character. Asher ben Jehiel, or, as he has been called, Rosh,
terminated an important period of rabbinical literature, the
period of the Rishonim. We have seen how during this
period Rashi's reputation, at first confined within the limits of
his native province, extended little by little, until it spread
over the surrounding countries, like the tree of which Daniel
speaks, "whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight
thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit
thereof much" (Dan. iv. 20-21).
FROM THE EXPULSION OF THE JEWS FROM
FRANCE TO THE PRESENT TIME
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
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 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, 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. 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, 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
(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. 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
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, 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
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
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
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 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 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, the Weisses, the Frankels, 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
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
THE FAMILY OF RASHI
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
d. 1184 |
| Judah Sir Leon of Paris
A. THE WORKS OF RASHI
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
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
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
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).
B. THE EDITIONS OF RASHI's WORKS
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,
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.
C. CRITICAL WORKS OF REFERENCE
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 published 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
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
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
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,
Antoine Levy, Die Exegese bei den franzosischen Juden vom
10 bis 14 Jahrhundert (translated from the French),
Nehemiah Kronberg, Raschi als Exeget ... , Halle
. 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
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,
I.H. Weiss, Dor Dor we-Dorshaw, iv and V.
Gross, Gallia judaica, Paris, 1897, passim.
Berliner, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Raschi-Commentare,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
30 Concerning this enigmatical kinsman of Rashi, see chap. XI,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
77 Without doubt the murex, which gives the purple dye. The
details are taken from the Talmud (treatise Menahot 44a at
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
86 I Sam. xxiii. 14.
87 And not "shadow of death," which is etymologically
impossible, though it is a rendition employed by most
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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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