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 Ritva, Rabbenu Bachya b. Asher, and Shem-Tov Ibn Gaon. Rashba is known for his volumes of responsa and chiddushim (novellae, “insights”) on the Talmud.

Rashba’s Novellae on the Talmud

Rashba wrote chiddushim to 18 masechtot,1 which have been published as a set by Mosad ha-Rav Kook:

  1. Berakhot
  2. Shabbat
  3. Eruvin
  4. Beitzah
  5. Rosh ha-Shannah
  6. Megillah
  7. Yevamot
  8. Gittin
  9. Kiddushin
  10. Nedarim
  11. Bava Kamma
  12. Bava Metzia
  13. Bava Batra
  14. Shevu’ot
  15. Avodah Zarah
  16. Chullin
  17. Niddah
  18. Nazir – The chiddushim on Nazir remain in manuscript.

Rashba’s Responsa

Rashba’s responsa are a rich source of halakhah, but, more so than the chiddushim, they present textual problems and require attention to the text being used.2 They have also been published, in part, by Mosad ha-Rav Kook. There is also the (incomplete but indispensable) edition edited by H. Z. Dimitrovsky, which offers a critical text with excellent notes. Both editions include the book of letters Minchat Kenaot which was compiled by R. Abba-Mari b. Moshe ha-Yarchi and records the intercommunal dispute over rationalist philosophy in which Rashba was a key participant.

Halachic and Other Works

Rashba also wrote a commentary on the aggadot of the Bavli called Chiddushei Aggadot ha-Shas and works on halakhic topics:

  • Torat ha-Bayit (“Torah of the Home”) on everyday halakhah, to which Rashba also published an abridgement (Torat ha-Bayit ha Katzer) as well as, anonymously, a defense of it against R. Aharaon ha-Levi of Barcelona (the Rah)’s critical Bedek ha-Bayit (“Checking the Home”), which Rashba called Mishmeret ha-Bayit (“Watch Over the Home”);

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  1. This is not counting the chiddushim to Menachot which are misattributed to Rashba, as well as those on Ketubbot, which are to be attributed rather to Ramban—although in standard editions, these are generally still included and attributed to Rashba
  2. Ibn Adret’s responsa have a complicated transmission history. The conventional numbering calls the Bologna, 1538 edition (reprinted in Venice, 1545 and Hanau, 1610) “Volume 1” of Ibn Adret’s responsa; the Livorno (Leghorn) edition of 1657, titled Toledot Adam, “Volume 2”; the collection published also in Livorno in 1778 “Volume 3”; the Vilna edition of 1881 “Volume 4”; the third collection published in Livorno in 1825—prior to the Vilna edition—“Volume 5”; and the two collections published in Warsaw in 1898 [or 1908] (though erroneously bearing the date 1868 on their cover pages), “Volume 6” and “Volume 7.” An eighth volume, published in Warsaw in 1883, contains responsa written by Ibn Adret but attributed to his teacher, Ramban. Excluded from this scheme are two early editions, the collections printed in Rome in 1481 and in Constantinople in 1516, as well as the 1803 Salonika edition.