Category: Rishonim

Knowledgebase entries about Rishonim, medieval Torah scholars from c. 1000-1550.

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  • Ibn Ezra

    Avraham Ibn Ezra | ר’ אברהם אבן עזרא – ראב”ע was born in 1089 in Tudela, Spain and died 1164 in northern Europe, possibly England. He is best known for his commentary on Tanach, in which he brings into Hebrew the fruits of generations of Sefardi philological and contextual (peshat) Biblical exegesis. However, he was…

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  • Moshe ha-Darshan

    משה הדרשן – Moshe ha-Darshan (11th cen., southern France) was a medieval compiler of midrash. The appellation ha-darshan probably pertains to this activity rather than preaching. He was active during the first half of the 11th century in Narbonne, Provence (southern France) Life Moshe ha-Darshan almost certainly headed a beit midrash in his home city,…

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  • Rabbenu Chananel

    Rabbenu Chananel ben Chushiel – רבנו חננאל בן חושיאל (d. 1055/56) was the first Talmud commentator in the Sefardi tradition. His commentary was widely used and admired, and is today printed on the outer margin of the standard Vilna Shas. Name(s) Rabbenu Chananel ben Chushielרבנו חננאל בן חושיאל Dates died 1055/56 Region Sefardi – Tunisia…

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  • Radak

    ר”דק – ר’ דוד קמחי – R. David ben Yosef Kimchi (c. 1160-c. 1235) lived in Narbonne, Provence (southern France) and is best known for his Tanach commentaries to Bereshit, Neviim, Tehillim, Mishlei, and Divrei Ha-Yamim. Radak was the son of R. Yosef Kimchi, a Sefardi émigré to Provence, notable as an early translator of…

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  • Rashba

    רשב”א – ר’ שלמה בן אברהם אבן אדרת – R. Shlomo b. Avraham Ibn Adret (c. 1235 to c. 1310, Barcelona), was a major Sefardi posek (decisor), the successor of Ramban, with whom he studied, although his principal teacher was Rabbenu Yonah (b. Avraham Gerondi). Rashba was himself the teacher of celebrated pupils, including the…

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  • Rashi

    Rashi – R. Shlomo Yitzchaki | רש”י – ר’ שלמה יצחקי (c. 1040-1105, Troyes, northern France) is among the foremost Talmud and Tanach commentators, ushering in the classical period of line commentaries on foundational texts. He studied in the yeshivot of the Rhineland Valeyy (Worms and Mainz), the first centers of Jewish life in medieval…

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  • Rif

    Rav Yitzchak Alfasi – ר’ יצחק אלפס(י) – known as the Rif (1013–1103), author of the immensely important Halachot ha-Rif, a proto-code and abridgement of the legal portions of the Talmud. The Rif was born in Algeria, studying in Qayrawan (Kairouan), and established himself in Fez, though he was impelled to flee and made his…

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  • Rishonim

    ראשונים – “Former authorities” (c. 1000-1550), meaning Torah scholars who lived in the medieval period. According to traditional Jewish periodization, the era of the Rishonim begins in 1038 CE, at the conclusion of the period of the Geonim. The era of the Rishonim ends roughly with the compilation of the Shulchan Aruch, the definitive code…

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  • Ritva

    R. Yom Tov ben Avraham Ishvili (“of Seville”) – ריטב”א – ר’ יום טוב בן אברהם אשבילי (c. 1250–1330) is one of the foremost Sefardi commentators on the Talmud. Life Though his family was apparently from Seville in southern Spain, Ritva is associated with Zaragoza (Saragossa) in Aragon, where he was a dayan (rabbinical court…

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  • The Rosh

    ר’ אשר בן יחיאל – רא”ש – R. Asher b. Yechiel (c. 1250-1327) – Primarily known for his responsa, Rosh was already an acknowledged leader of German Jewry when he fled persecution, settling in Toledo, Castile (in present-day Spain). The Rosh’s immigration from Ashkenaz to Sefarad was impactful in bringing knowledge and methods of learning…

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