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´╗┐Title: Rashi
Author: Liber, Maurice
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rashi" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

NOTES:    ...  bracket italics in the original

          ...  bracket English transliterations of Hebrew
             terms which appeared in this location in the
             with the aid of Rabbi Manes Kogan of Beth Israel
             Synagogue in Roanoke, Virginia during fall, 2000.
             Occasionally no transliteration was available.
             When transliterating a multi word phrase, the
             transliteration is done using the Hebrew word
             transliteration, if present, but still within the
             brackets, are the parenthesized names of the Hebrew
             letters.   The name of each letter is capitalized,
             and multiple words are separated by commas.

             In all cases, the closing bracket will include any
             punctuation that immediately followed the associated
             textual material.

             The Hebrew letters, vowels and punctuation are named
             according to the Unicode standard (which is itself
             based upon ISO 8859-8) as follows:  (The Unicode
             value is in hexadecimal).

             Vowel        Unicode   Letter       Unicode
              Sheva         05B0     Alef         05D0
              Hataf Segol   05B1     Bet          05D1
              Hataf Patah   05B2     Gimel        05D2
              Hataf Qamats  05B3     Dalet        05D3
              Hiriq         05B4     He           05D4
              Tsere         05B5     Vav          05D5
              Segol         05B6     Zayin        05D6
              Patah         05B7     Het          05D7
              Qamats        05B8     Tet          05D8
              Holam         05B9     Yod          05D9
                    05BA     Final Kaf    05DA
              Qubuts        05BB     Kaf          05DB
              Dagesh        05BC     Lamed        05DC
              Meteg         05BD     Final Mem    05DD
              Maqaf         05BE     Mem          05DE
              Rafe          05BF     Final Nun    05DF
              Paseq         05C0     Nun          05E0
              Shin dot      05C1     Samekh       05E1
              Sin dot       05C2     Ayin         05E2
              Sof Pasuq     05C3     Final Pe     05E3
                                     Pe           05E4
            Other punctuation        Final Tsadi  05E5
              Geresh        05F3     Tsadi        05E6
              Gershayim     05F4     Qof          05E7
                                     Resh         05E8
                                     Shin         05E9
                                     Tav          05EA

         [#] bracketed #s are superscripts in the original and
             note identification numbers.  There are some problems
             with these.   Note #4 (Chapter 1) is not referenced
             in the text. Note #36 appears twice (Chapter 4) and
             #102 appears twice in Chapter 7.

         hyphenation of terms is suppressed, so any hyphens
             appearing at the end of the line are infix grouping
             operators from the original.

         Two spaces or eol follow each sentence terminator.

         One blank line separates each paragraph.

         Multiline quotations (that are in a different font in
             the original), are here indented 3 spaces

         Reference 3 is at the bottom of page 20 in the original,
             Reference 5 is at the top of page 23, I cannot find
             Reference 4 anywhere.

         Spelling errors are denoted by [correct_spelling sic].
             Most of these are just variants and currently archaic
             terms, but some appear to be actual errors.  Correct
             version is from my on line dictionary, or when in doubt,
             from my printed Collegiate Dictionary.  This is also used
             when, IMHO, there is an error in the text.

         The index is not included, as the pagination used in it is

         The duplication of reference [36], ([36],[37],[36],[38]) in
             chapter 4 is in the original.

         There are many places (see especially chapter 6) where an
         unbalanced right square bracket appears, often after either
         an italicized phrase or a Hebrew phrase.  These are in
         the original.



                          MAURICE LIBER



                           ADELE SZOLD


                        TO THE MEMORY OF


                     GRAND-RABBIN OF FRANCE


Some months ago the Jewish world celebrated the eight hundredth
anniversary of the death of Rashi, who died at Troyes in 1105.
On that occasion those whose knowledge authorizes them to speak
gave eloquent accounts of his life and work.  Science and
devotion availed themselves of every possible medium-lectures and
books, journals and reviews-to set forth all we owe to the
illustrious Rabbi.  The writer ventures to express the hope that
in the present volume he has made at least a slight contribution
toward discharging the common debt of the Jewish nation-that it
is not utterly unworthy of him whose name it bears.

This volume, however, is not a product of circumstances; it was
not written on the occasion of the centenary celebration.  It was
designed to form one of the series of the biographies of Jewish
the first issue of which was devoted to Maimonides.  The
biography of Rashi is the second of the series.  It is not for the
author to endorse the order adopted, but he hazards the opinion
that the readers will find the portrait of Rashi no unfitting
companion-piece even to that of the author of the Moreh.

Jewish history may include minds more brilliant and works more
original than Rashi's.  But it is incontestable that he is one of
those historical personages who afford a double interest; his own
personality is striking and at the same time he is the
representative of a civilization and of a period.  He has this
double interest for us to an eminent degree.  His physiognomy has
well-marked, individual features, and yet he is the best exponent
of French Judaism in the middle ages.  He is somebody, and he
represents something.  Through this double claim, he forms an
integral part of Jewish history and literature.  There are great
men who despite their distinguished attributes stand apart from
the general intellectual movements.  They can be estimated
without reference to an historical background.  Rashi forms, so to
say, an organic part of Jewish history.  A whole department of
Jewish literature would be enigmatical without him.  Like a star
which leaves a track of light in its passage across the skies,
Rashi aroused the enthusiasm of his contemporaries, but no less
was he admired and venerated by posterity, and to-day, after the
lapse of eight centuries, he is, as the poet says, "still young
in glory and immortality."

His name is most prominently connected with Rabbinical
literature.  Whether large questions are dealt with, or the
minutest details are considered, it is always Rashi who is
referred to-he has a share in all its destinies, and he seems
inseparable from it forever.

It is this circumstance that makes the writing of his biography
as awkward a task for the writer as reading it may be for the
public.  To write it one must be a scholar, to read it a
specialist.  To know Rashi well is as difficult as it is
necessary.  Singularly enough, popular as he was, he was
essentially a Talmudist, and at no time have connoisseurs of the
Talmud formed a majority.  This is the reason why historians like
Graetz, though they dilate upon the unparalleled qualities of
Rashi's genius, can devote only a disproportionately small number
of pages to him and his works.

Though the writer has throughout been aware of the difficulties
inherent in his task, yet he is also conscious that he has
sometimes succeeded in removing them only by eluding them.  In
parts, when the matter to be treated was unyielding, it became
necessary to dwell on side issues, or fill up gaps and replace
obscurities by legends and hypotheses.  The object in view being
a book popular in character and accessible to all, technical
discussions had to be eschewed.  Many knotty points had to be
brushed aside lightly, and the most debatable points passed over
in silence.  These are the sacrifices to which one must resign
himself, though it requires self-restraint to do it consistently.
The reader may, therefore, not expect to find new data in these
pages, new facts and texts not published before.  If the book has
any merit, it is that it presents the actual state of knowledge
on the subject, and the author anticipates the charge of
plagiarism by disclaiming any intention of producing an original
work.  Recondite sources have not always been referred to, in
order not to overload a text which at best is apt to tax the
reader's powers of attention.  Such references and special remarks
as were deemed necessary have been incorporated either in Notes
placed at the end of the book, or in an Appendix containing a
bibliography.  There the works are mentioned to which the author
is chiefly indebted, and which his readers may profitably consult
if they desire to pursue the subject further.

The author desires to express his appreciation of the work of the
translator, whose collaboration was all the more valuable as the
revision of the book had to be made, after an interval of almost
two years, under most unfavorable conditions, aggravated by the
distance between the writer and the place of publication.  The
readers will themselves judge of the skill with which the
translator has acquitted herself of her task, and the author
gladly leaves to her the honor and the responsibility for the

But how can I express all I owe to M. Israel Levi, my honored
master? Without him this work would never have been begun,
without him I should never have dared carry it to completion.  I
have contracted a debt toward him 'which grows from day to day,
and I discharge but the smallest portion of it by dedicating this
volume to the memory of his never-to-be-forgotten father-in-law,
the Grand-Rabbin Zadoc-Kahn.  M. Zadoc-Kahn made a name for
himself in Jewish letters by his Etudes sur le livre de Joseph
le Zelateur, dealing with one of the most curious domains of
that literature in which Rashi was the foremost representative.
One of his last public acts was the appeal which he issued on the
occasion of the Rashi centenary.  It is not a slight satisfaction
to me to know that these pages passed under his eyes in

                                                   M. LIBER

     CHALONS-SUR-MARNE, March, 1906


                            (page 3)

                            (page 13)

                      BOOK I--RASHI THE MAN

                            CHAPTER I

Dispersion of the Jews-Their Appearance in Gaul.

 I.  Material and Political Condition of the Jews of France in
the Eleventh Century-Their Occupations-Their Relations with the
Christians-General Instruction and Religious Life-Limitations of
their Literature.

 II.  Rabbinical Culture--Part played by Italy-The Kalonymides-
The Schools of Lorraine-Rabbenu Gershom, Meor ha-Golah-His Work
and Influence--Contemporaries and Disciples of Gershom-Movement
reaches its Climax with Rashi.............................page 17

                           CHAPTER II

Difficulties of Writing a Biography of Rashi-History and Legend.

 I.  The Periods into which Rashi's Life may be divided-His
Names-Rashi and Yarhi-Troyes in the Middle of the Eleventh
Century-The Fairs of Champagne-The Community of Troyes-The Family
of Rashi and its Fame in Legend-Childhood-Education of Children
among the Jews of France in the Middle Ages-Higher Instruction
among the Jews and the Christians-Alleged Journeys and Adventures
of Rashi.

 II.  Rashi in Lorraine--Position of the Jews in Lorraine--Their
Relations with the Jews of France-Schools of Worms and Mayence-
Masters of Rashi and their Influence upon him-His Colleagues and
Correspondents...........................................page 31

                           CHAPTER III

                   RASHI AT TROYES-LAST YEARS
Rashi settles in his Birthplace.

I.  New Centre [center sic] of Studies-Rashi and the City of
Troyes-Spiritual Activity and Authority of Rashi-Rashi founds a
School-His Authority and Teachings-His Relations with his
Teachers-He writes his Commentaries-Marriage of his Three
Daughters-His Sons-In-law and Grand-children-A Jewish Marriage in
the Middle Ages-The Domestic Virtues-The Education and Position
of Woman among the Jews.

 II.  The Crusades-What they actually were-Massacres in the
Jewries along the Moselie and the Rhine-Rashi and the Apostates-
Rashi and Godfrey of Bouillon-Consequences of the Crusades-End of
Rashi's Life--Legends connected with his Death-Rashi's Death at
Troyes....................................................page 53

                           CHAPTER IV


Rashi's Spiritual Physiognomy-Sources.

 I.  The Man and his Intellect-Depth and Naivete of his Faith-His
Goodness, Extreme Modesty, and Love of Truth-Attitude in Regard
to his Masters-His Correspondents and his Pupils.

 II.  The Scholar-Alleged Universality of his Knowledge-Wherein
his Knowledge was limited, and wherein extended-Rashi's Library-
The Authors he cites, and the Authorities to whom he appeals-
Lacunae in his Knowledge--Sureness of his Knowledge.......page 73

                    BOOK II-THE WORK OF RASHI

                            CHAPTER V

Composition of the Commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud-Their
   Character and their Limitations-The Explanations-Clearness,
   Accuracy, Brevity-The French Glosses, or Laazim-Their
   Function-Their Philologle Importance--The Works treating of
   them...................................................page 89

                             CHAPTER VI
                     THE BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES

Rashi, the Commentator par excellence of the Bible-His
   Authorities-The Targumim, the Massorah-The Talmud and the
   Midrash-Exegesis before Rashi-The Peshat and the Derash
   (Literary Method and Free Method)-The Study of the Bible among
   the Christians and among the Jews-The Extent to which Rashi
   used the Two Methods-Various Examples-Anti-Christian Polemics-
   Causes of the Importance attached to Derash-Rashi and Samuel
   ben Meir-Rashi's Grammar-Rashi and the Spaniards-His Knowledge
   of Hebrew-Rashi compared with Modern Exegetes and with Abraham
   Ibn Ezra-Homely Character of the Biblical Commentaries-Their
   Popularity............................................page 104

                            CHAPTER VII
                     THE TALMUDIC COMMENTARIES

Differences between the Biblical and the Talmudic Commentaries-
   Composition-Wherein Rashi imitates and wherein he is Original-
   His Predecessors-His Method-Establishment of the Text-The
   Commentary a Grammatical Guide--Accuracy and Soundness of his
   Explanations-Examples-Rashi as an Historian-Rashi and the
   Halakah-Rashi and the Haggadah-Citations-Value and Fortune of
   the Talmudic Commentaries.............................page 135

                            CHAPTER VIII
                            THE RESPONSA

Rashi decides Questions of Law-Rabbinical Responsa as a Form of
   Literature-Historic Interest attaching to those of Rashi-
   Relations between Jews and Christians-Rashi and the Apostates-
   He preaches Concord in Families and Communities-Rashi's
   Character as manifested in his Responsa-The Naivete, Strength,
   and tolerance of his Faith.......................... page 159

                             CHAPTER IX

Character of these Works-The Sefer ha-Pardes and the Sefer
   ha-Ora-The Mahzor Vitry-The Elements and the Redactors of
   these Works-Their Interest and their Value...........page 169

                             CHAPTER X
                     POETRY ATTRIBUTED TO RASHI

Liturgical Poetry at the Time of Rashi-The Selihot attributed to
   Rashi-Their Technique--Sentiments therein
   expressed-Quotations-Their Poetic Value...............page 173

                  BOOK Ill-THE INFLUENCE OF RASHI

                             CHAPTER XI

Rashi's Influence upon Biblical and Talmudic Literature.

 I.  Rashi and the Talmudic Movement in France-His Principal
Disciples-Shemaiah-His Two Sons-in-law, Judah ben Nathan and Meir
ben Samuel-The School of Rameru-The Four Sons of Meir-Samuel ben
Meir, his Intellect and his Work-Jacob Tam, his Life and
Influence--His Disciples and Works-The Tossafot-Method of the
Tossafists and their Relation to Rashi-The School of Dampierre-
Isaac ben Samuel the Elder and his Disciples-The School of Paris-
Judah Sir Leon; his Chief pupils-Jehiel of Meaux and his French
and German Disciples-Redaction of the Tossafot.

 II.  Rashi and the Biblical Movement in France--The Commentary
on the Pentateuch by Samuel ben Meir-His Disciples-Joseph Kara
and Joseph Bekor-Shor-Their Rational Exegesis-Decadence of
Biblical Exegesis-The Tossafot on the Pentateuch; Chief
Collections; their Character-Rashi and Christian Exegesis-
Nicholas de Lyra and Luther-Decadence of French Judaism from the
Expulsion of 1181 to that of 1396.

 III.  Rashi's Influence outside of France-Rashi in the Orient;
in the Provence-Evidences of his Reputation: in Italy:  in Spain-
How Abraham Ibn Ezra judged Rashi-David kimhi-Kabbalistic
Exegesis-Nahmanides-Solomon ben Adret, Nissim Gerundi, and Asher
ben Jehiel.............................................. page 183

                           CHAPTER XII

Rashi In Foreign Countries-Rashi's Influence on the Italians; on
   Elijahst Spanish Talmudists-Elljah Mizrahi-Rashi's Popularity-
   His Descendants-The Family of Lurla-The Authors of Super-
   Commentaries and of Hiddushim-Rashi and Printing-The
   Renaissance--Rashi and the Hebrew Scholars among the
   Christians of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries-
   Breithaupt-Rashi in the Eighteenth Century-Moses Mendelssohn
   and the Blurists-Rashi In the Nineteenth Century-The Eighth
   Centenary of his Death................................page 210

                             (page 222)

                             APPENDIX I

                        THE FAMILY OF RASHI
                             (page 227)

                            APPENDIX II

                             (page 231)

                             (page 241)

                             (page 261)


A people honors itself in honoring the great men who have
interpreted its thought, who are the guardians of its genius.  It
thus renders merited homage and pays just tribute to those who
have increased the treasures of its civilization and added a new
feature to its moral physiognomy; it establishes the union of
ideas that assures the conservation of the national genius, and
maintains and perpetuates the consciousness of the nation.
Finally, it manifests consciousness of its future in taking
cognizance of its past, and in turning over the leaves of its
archives, it defines its part and mission in history.  The study
of men and facts in the past permits of a sounder appreciation of
recent efforts, of present tendencies; for "humanity is always
composed of more dead than living," and usually "the past is what
is most vital in the present."

No people has greater need than the Jews to steep itself again in
the sources of its existence, and no period more than the present
imposes upon it the duty of bringing its past back to life.
Scattered over the face of the globe, no longer constituting a
body politic, the Jewish people by cultivating its intellectual
patrimony creates for itself an ideal fatherland; and mingled, as
it is, with its neighbors, threatened by absorption into
surrounding nations, it recovers a sort of individuality by the
reverence it pays to men that have given best expression to its
peculiar genius.

But the Jewish people, its national life crushed out of it,
though deprived of all political ambitions, has yet regained a
certain national solidarity through community of faith and
ideals; and it has maintained the cohesion of its framework by
the wholly spiritual bonds of teaching and charity.  This is the
picture it presents throughout the middle ages, during the period
which, for Christianity, marked an eclipse of the intellect and,
as it were, an enfeeblement of the reason to such a degree that
the term middle ages becomes synonymous with intellectual
decadence.  "But," said the historian Graetz, "while the sword
was ravaging the outer world, and the people devoted themselves
to murderous strife, the house of Jacob cared only that the light
of the mind burn on steadily and that the shadows of darkness be
dissipated.  If a religion may be judged by its principal
representatives, the palm must be awarded to Judaism in the tenth
to the thirteenth century."  Its scholars, therefore, its
philosophers, and its poets render Judaism illustrious, and by
their works and their renown shed a radiant light upon its

Maimonides is one of those eminent spirits in whom was reflected
the genius of the Jewish people and who have in turn contributed
to the development of its genius.[1]  Maimonides, however, was
also more than this; perhaps he presents as much of interest from
the point of view of Arabic as of Jewish culture; and expressing
more than the Jewish ideal, he does not belong to the Jews
entirely.  Of Rashi, on the contrary, one may say that he is a
Jew to the exclusion of everything else.  He is no more than a
Jew, no other than a Jew.

                             BOOK I
                          RASHI THE MAN


                            CHAPTER I

                    THE JEWS OF FRANCE IN THE
                        ELEVENTH CENTURY

Great men - and Rashi, as we shall see, may be counted among
their number - arrive at opportune times.  Sometimes we
congratulate them for having disappeared from history in good
season; it would be just as reasonable, or, rather, just as
unreasonable, to be grateful to them for having come at exactly
the right juncture of affairs.  The great man, in fact, is the
man of the moment; he comes neither too soon, which spares him
from fumbling over beginnings and so clogging his own footsteps,
nor too late, which prevents him from imitating a model and so
impeding the development of his personality.  He is neither a
precursor nor an epigone, neither a forerunner nor a late-comer.
He neither breaks the ground nor gleans the harvest: he is the
sower who casts the seed upon a field ready to receive it and
make it grow.

It is, therefore, of some avail for us to devote several pages to
the history of the Jews of Northern France in the eleventh
century, especially in regard to their intellectual state and
more especially in regard to their rabbinical culture.  If
another reason were needed to justify this preamble, I might
invoke a principle long ago formulated and put to the test by
criticism, namely, that environment is an essential factor in the
make-up of a writer, and an intellectual work is always
determined, conditioned by existing circumstances.  The principle
applies to Rashi, of whom one may say, of whom in fact Zunz has
said, he is the representative par excellence of his time
and of his circle.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the great migratory movement beginning at the dawn of the
Christian era, which scattered the Jews to the four corners of
the globe, and which was accentuated and precipitated by the
misfortunes that broke over the population of Palestine, France,
or, more exactly, Gaul, was colonized by numbers of Jews.  If we
believe in the right of the first occupant, we ought to consider
the French Jews more French than many Frenchmen.  Conversions
must at first have been numerous, and the number of apostates
kept pace with the progress of Christianity.

In the south of France, there were Jewish communities before the
fifth century; in Burgundy and Touraine, in the first half of the
sixth century; and in Austrasia, at the end of the same century.
From the Provence, they ascended the Rhone and the Saone.  Others
reached Guienne and Anjou.[2]

Although disturbed at times by the canons of various distrustful
Church councils, or by the sermons of a few vehement bishops, the
Jews on the whole led a peaceful, though not a very prosperous,
existence, which has left scarcely any traces in history and
literature.  Aside from a few unimportant names and facts, these
centuries mark a gap in the history of the Jews of France, as in
that of their Christian neighbors; and literature, as it always
does, followed the political and economic destinies of the
nation.  From the fifth to the tenth century, letters fell into
utter decay, despite the momentary stimulus given by Charlemagne.
The human intellect, to borrow from Guizot, had reached the nadir
of its course.  This epoch, however, was not entirely lost to
civilization.  The Jews applied themselves to studies, the taste
for which developed more and more strongly.  If as yet they could
not fly with their own wings, they remained in relation with the
centres [centers sic] of rabbinical life, the academies in
Babylonia, exchanging the products of the mind at the same time
that they bartered merchandise.  This slow process of incubation
was perforce fruitful of results.


It was in the tenth century, when the political and social
troubles that had agitated Europe since the fall of the Roman
Empire were calmed, that the Jews came forth from their semi-
obscurity, either because their numbers had increased, or because
their position had become more stable, or because they were
ready, after mature preparation, to play their part in the
intellectual world.

At this time, the Jews of Northern France nearly without
exception enjoyed happy conditions of existence.  From their
literature, rather scholarly than popular, we learn chiefly of
their schools and their rabbis; yet we also learn from it that
their employments were the same as those of the other inhabitants
of the country.  They were engaged in trade, many attaining
wealth; and a number devoted themselves to agriculture.  They
possessed fields and vineyards, for neither the ownership of land
nor residence in the country was forbidden them; and they were
also employed in cattle raising.  Often they took Christians into
their service.

But the Jews, although they attached themselves to the soil and
tried to take root there, were essentially an urban population.
They owned real estate and devoted themselves to all sorts of
industries.  They were allowed to be workmen and to practice every
handicraft, inasmuch as the guilds, those associations, partly
religious in character, which excluded the Jews from their
membership rolls, did not begin to be established until the
twelfth century.  Sometimes a Jew was entrusted with a public
office, as a rule that of collector of taxes.  Not until later,
about the twelfth century, when forced by men and circumstances,
did the Jews make a specialty of moneylending.

The strength of the Jews resided in the fact that they were
organized in communities, which were marked by intense
solidarity, and in which harmony and tranquillity [tranquility
sic] were assured by the rabbinical institutions.  Failure to
respect these institutions was punished by excommunication-a
severe penalty, for the excommunicated man encountered the hate
of his co-religionists and was driven to baptism.[3]

At the head of the communities were provosts (praepositi),
charged with surveillance over their interests, and doubtless
their representatives before the civil authority.  Many Jews were
highly esteemed by the kings or seigneurs, holding positions of
honor and bearing honorific titles; but in general the Jews of
France, unlike those of Spain, were not permitted to take part in
the government, or even have a share in the political life of the
nation.  They contented themselves with the enjoyment of the
fruits of their labor and the peaceful practice of their
religion.  They were the less disturbed because they lived under
a special regime.  Being neither French nor Christian, they
were therefore not citizens; they formed a state within the
state, or rather a colony within the state, and, being neither
nobles nor serfs, they did not have to render military service.
They administered their internal affairs, and in general were not
amenable to civil or ecclesiastical legislation.  For the
solution of their legal difficulties they applied to the
rabbinical tribunals.  In all other respects they were dependent
upon the lord of the lands upon which they established
themselves, provided they were not under the tutelle et
mainbournie of the king.  In either case they had to pay taxes
and constitute themselves a constantly flowing source of revenues
for their protectors.

The Jews lived on a basis of good understanding with their
neighbors, and came into frequent intercourse with them.  Even
the clergy maintained relations with Jewish scholars.  It was the
incessant efforts of the higher ecclesiastics and of the papacy
that little by little created animosity against the Jews, which
at the epoch of Rashi was still not very apparent.  The
collections of canonical law by force of tradition renewed the
humiliating measures prescribed by the last Roman emperors.

The Jews throughout France spoke French; and they either had
French names or gave their Hebrew names a French form.  In the
rabbinical writings cities are designated by their real names, or
by Hebrew names more or less ingeniously adapted from the Latin
or Romance.  With the secularization of their names, the Jews
adopted, at least partially, the customs and, naturally, also the
superstitions of their countrymen.  The valuable researches of
Gudemann and Israel Levi show how much the folklore of the two
races have in common.  Moreover, when two peoples come in contact,
no matter how great the differences distinguishing them, they are
bound to exert mutual influence upon each other.  No impervious
partitions exist in sociology.

It would thus be an anachronism to represent the Jews of the
eleventh century as pale and shabby, ever bearing the look of
hunted animals, shamefaced, depressed by clerical hate, royal
greed, and the brutality of the masses.  In the Jewries of France
at this time there was nothing sad or sombre, [somber sic] no
strait-laced orthodoxy, no jargon, no disgraceful costume, none
of that gloomy isolation betokening distrust, scorn, and hate.

The practical activity of the Jews, their business interests, and
their consequent wealth did not stifle intellectual ideals.  On
the contrary, thanks to the security assured them, they could
devote themselves to study.  Their rich literature proves they
could occupy themselves at the same time with mental and material
pursuits.  "For a people to produce scholars, it is necessary
that it be composed of something other than hard-hearted usurers
and sordid business men.  The literary output is a thorough test
of social conditions."[5]  Moreover, the intellectual status of a
people always bears relation to its material and economic
condition, and so, where the Jews enjoyed most liberty and
happiness, their literature has been richest and most brilliant.

From an intellectual point of view the Jews resembled the people
among whom they lived.  Like them, they were pious, even extremely
devout; and they counted few unbelievers among their number.
Sometimes it happened that a religious person failed to obey
precepts, but no one contested the foundations of belief.  In the
matter of religion, it is true, outward observance was guarded
above everything else.  The Jews, settled as they were on foreign
soil, came to attach themselves to ceremonials as the surest
guarantees of their faith.  Naturally superstitions prevailed at
an epoch marked by a total lack of scientific spirit.  People
believed in the existence of men without shadows, in evil demons,
and so on.  The Jews, however, were less inclined to such
conceptions than the Christians, who in every district had places
of pilgrimage at which they adored spurious bones and relics.

It would be altogether unjust not to recognize the ethical
results of the constant practice of the law, which circumscribed
the entire life of the Jew.  Talmudic legislation must not be
regarded, as it sometimes is, as an oppressive yoke, an
insufferable fetter.  Its exactions do not make it tyrannical,
because it is loyally and freely accepted, accepted even with
pleasure.  The whole life of the Jew is taken into consideration
beforehand, its boundaries are marked, its actions controlled.
But this submission entails no self-denial; it is voluntary and
the reason is provided with sufficient motives.  Indeed, it is
remarkable what freedom and breadth thought was able to maintain
in the very bosom of orthodoxy.

   "The observance of the Law and, consequently, the study of
   the Law formed the basis of this religion.  With the fall of
   the Temple the one place disappeared in which the Divine
   cult could legitimately be performed; as a result the Jews
   turned for the expression of their religious sentiment with
   all the more ardor toward the Law, now become the real
   sanctuary of Judaism torn from its native soil, the
   safeguard of the wandering race, the one heritage of a
   glorious and precious past.  The recitation and study of the
   Law took the place of religious ceremonies-hence the name
   "school" (Schul) for houses of worship in France and
   in Germany.  The endeavor was made to give the Law definite
   form, to develop it, not only in its provisions remaining
   in practical use, such as the civil and penal code,
   regulations in regard to the festivals, and private
   observances, but also in its provisions relating to the
   Temple cult which had historical interest only.  This
   occupation, pursued with warmth and depth of feeling for a
   number of centuries, appealed at once to the intellect and
   the heart.  It may be said that the entire Jewish race
   shared in the work, the scholar being removed from the
   general mass only in degree, not in kind."[6]

The high level of general instruction among the Jews was all the
more remarkable since only a small number of literary works were
known.  Though copies were made of those which enjoyed the
greatest reputation, the number of manuscripts was limited.
Nevertheless, soon after their appearance, important productions
in one country came into the hands of scholars of other
countries.  Just as Christendom by force of its spiritual bond
formed a single realm, so two strong chains bound together Jews
of widely separated regions: these were their religion and their
language.  Communication was difficult, roads were few in number
and dangerous; yet, countervailing distance and danger was
devotion to religion and to learning.

But religion and learning were one and the same thing.  As was the
case in Christianity, and for the same reasons, religion filled
the whole of life and engrossed all branches of knowledge.  There
was no such thing as secular science; religion placed its stamp
on everything, and turned the currents of thought into its own
channels.  One must not hope therefore to find, among the Jews of
Northern France, those literary species which blossomed and
flourished in Spain; philosophy did not exist among them, and
poetry was confined to a few dry liturgic poems.  Their
intellectual activity was concentrated in the study of the Bible
and the Talmud; but in this domain they acquired all the greater
depth and penetration.  Less varied as were the objects of their
pursuits, they excelled in what they undertook, and inferior
though they were in the fields of philosophy and poetry, they
were superior in Biblical exegesis, and still more so, possibly,
in Talmudic jurisprudence.


The history of the beginnings of rabbinical learning in France is
wrapped in obscurity.  Tradition has it that Charlemagne caused
the scholar Kalonymos to come from Lucca to Mayence.  With his
sons he is said to have opened a school there, which became the
centre [center sic] of Talmudic studies in Lorraine.  Legends,
however slight their semblance to truth, are never purely
fictitious in character; they contain an element of truth, or, at
least, symbolize the truth; and this tradition, which cannot be
accepted in the shape in which it has been handed down, seeing
that Kalonymos lived in the tenth century, is nevertheless a
fairly exact representation of the continuity of the intellectual
movement.  If the fact is not established that Charlemagne
accomplished for the Jews what he did for the Christians, that
is, revived their schools and promoted their prosperity, it seems
more certain that rabbinical learning penetrated into the
northwest of Europe through the intermediation of Italy, which
bridged the gap between the Orient and the Rhine lands.

As is well known, Christian Italy during the early middle ages,
despite the successive invasions of the barbarians, remained the
centre [center sic] of civilization and the store-house of
Occidental learning.  It is in Italy, without doubt, that the
Romanesque style of architecture had its origin, and in Italy
that the study of the Roman law was vigorously resumed.  It is to
Italy also that Charlemagne turned when he sought for scholars to
place at the head of his schools.  Moreover, it was on Italian
soil, in the fifteenth century, that the magnificent blossom
meriting its name, the Renaissance, was destined to open and
unfold its literary and artistic beauties.

Italy owes its glorious part in the world's history both to its
geographical position and its commercial importance.  So likewise
with the Jews of Italy, their commercial activities contributed
to their intellectual prosperity.  In the ninth century they
possessed rabbinical authorities, and in the tenth century,
centres [centers sic] of Talmudic study.  At this period, the
celebrated family of the Kalonymides went to Lorraine to
establish itself there.  For some time Mayence was the metropolis
of Judaism in the Rhine countries; and by its community the first
academies were established, the first Talmudic commentaries were
composed, and decisions were made which were accepted by all the
Jews of Christian Europe.  Soon this intellectual activity
extended to Worms, to Speyer, and a little later to the western
part of Germany and the northern part of France.[7]  A veritable
renaissance took place, parallel with the movement of ideas which
went on in the schools and convents of the eleventh and fourteenth
centuries;[8] for Jewish culture is often bound up with
the intellectual destinies of the neighboring peoples.

For some time the schools of Lorraine stood at the head of the
Talmudic movement, and it was to them that Rashi came a little
later to derive instruction.

One of the most celebrated offspring of the family of the
Kalonymides is Meshullam ben Kalonymos, who lived at Mayence in
the second half of the tenth century.  He was a Talmudist held in
high regard and the composer of liturgic poetry.  He devoted
himself to the regulation of the material and spiritual affairs
of his brethren.  Although he stood in correspondence with the
Babylonian masters, he was in a position to pass judgment
independently of them.  Communication with the East was frequent.
The communities of France and Germany sent disciples to the
Babylonians and submitted difficulties to them.  Tradition
relates that the Gaon Natronai (about 865) even visited France.
However that may be, the Jews of France at an early period were
acquainted with Babylonian works, both the chronicles and the
legal codes.

Other Talmudists of the tenth century are known, but rabbinical
literature may be said to have commenced only with Gershom ben
Judah (about 960-1028).  According to tradition his master was
his contemporary Hai Gaon; in reality he was the disciple of
Judah ben Meir ha-Cohen, surnamed Leontin (about 975).
Originally from Metz, Gershom established himself at Mayence, to
which a large number of pupils from neighboring countries soon
flocked in order to attend his school.  Thus he was the legatee of
the Babylonian academies, the decay of which became daily more
marked.  In his capacity as head of a school as in many other
respects, he was the true forerunner of Rashi, who carried on his
work with greater command of the subject and with more success.

Rabbenu Gershom not only gave Talmudic learning a fresh impetus
and removed its centre [center sic] to the banks of the Rhine,
but he also exerted the greatest and most salutary influence upon
the social life of his co-religionists, through his "Decrees,"
religious and moral, which, partly renewing older institutions,
were accepted by all the Jews of Christian countries.  Among
other things, he forbade polygamy.  He merits consideration in
two aspects, as a Gaon and as one to whom his disciples gave the
surname which still attaches to him, "the Light of the Exile,"
Meor ha-Golah.  Rashi said of him: "Rabbenu Gershom has
enlightened the eyes of the Captivity; for we all live by his
instruction; all the Jews of these countries call themselves the
disciples of his disciples."

Gershom seems to have been the first Rhenish scholar who resorted
to the written word for the spread of his teachings.  He devoted
himself to the establishment of a correct text of the Bible and
the Talmud, and his chief work is a Talmudical commentary.

Since his time the continuity of learning has been uninterrupted.
The seed sown by Rabbenu Gershom was not long in germinating.
Schools began to multiply and develop in Lorraine.  The one at
Mayence prospered for a long time, and was eclipsed only by the
schools of Champagne.

A rabbi, Machir, the brother of Gershom, by his Talmudic lexicon
contributed likewise to the development of rabbinical knowledge.
His four sons were renowned scholars, contemporaries and
doubtless fellow-students of Rashi.

The disciples of Gershom, who continued the work of their master,
are of especial interest to us, because one of them, Simon the
Elder, was the maternal uncle of Rashi, and three others were his
masters.  These were Jacob ben Yakar, Isaac ha-Levi, and Isaac ben
Judah.  The latter two were disciples also of Eliezer ben Isaac
the Great, of Mayence.  Jacob ben Yakar and Isaac ha-Levi went to
Worms, where they became rabbis, while Isaac ben Judah remained
at Mayence, and directed the Talmudic school there.

About the middle of the eleventh century, then, an intellectual
ferment took place in France and Lorraine, earnest literary and
scientific activity manifested itself, and above all elements of
profound rabbinical culture became visible.  But one who should
regulate these forces was lacking, a guide to direct these
activities and to serve as a model to others.  In order that the
movement might not come to a premature end, a master was needed
who would give it impetus and define its course, who would strike
the decisive blow.  Such a man there was, a man who impressed his
contemporaries as a scholar of high degree and noble character,
and whose memory as such is still cherished by posterity.  This
man was Rashi.

                           CHAPTER II


Little is known concerning the life of Rashi.  Owing to various
causes not a single work is extant that might be used as a guide
for the establishment of minor facts.  Generally speaking, Jewish
literature in the middle ages was of an impersonal character;
practically no memoirs nor autobiographies of this period exist.
The disciples of the great masters were not lavish of information
concerning them.  They held their task to be accomplished when
they had studied and handed on the master's works; regard for his
teachings ranked above respect for the personality of the author.
But the figure of Rashi, as though in despite of all such
obstacles, has remained popular.  People wanted to know all the
details of his life, and they invented facts according to their
desires.  Fiction, however, fell short of the truth.  Legend does
not represent him so great as he must actually have been.  In the
present work, too, I shall be obliged to resort to comparisons
and analogies, to supplement by hypotheses the scanty information
afforded by history, yet I shall distinguish the few historic
facts from the mass of legends in which they are smothered.

As of old many cities in Greece asserted that they were the
birthplace of Homer, the national poet, so a number of cities
disputed for the honor of being the birthplace of Rashi, or of
having been his residence, or the scene of his death.  Worms
claimed him as one of its rabbis, Lunel, thanks to a confusion of
names, has passed as his birthplace, and Prague as the city of
his death.  One historian set 1105 as the year of his birth,
though in fact it is the year of his death.  Others placed it in
the thirteenth century, and still others even in the fourteenth.

In the course of this narrative other such instances will occur -
of fables, more or less ingenious, collected by chroniclers
lacking discrimination.  They may make pleasant reading, although
they contain no element of authenticity.  Besides, they are of
relatively recent date, and emanate to a large extent from Italy
and Spain, whose historians could count upon the credulity of
their readers to impose their inventions upon Jews and Christians

Confusion of this sort reigned in regard to Rashi's life until
1823, the year in which the illustrious Zunz published the essay
which established, not only his own, but also Rashi's reputation,
and brought Rashi forth from the shadow of legend into the full
light of history.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Zunz and other
scholars, such as Geiger, Weiss, Berliner, and Epstein, because,
with the legendary often superimposed upon the true, they have
made it easy to pick out the genuine from the false.  Now that
the result of their labors is before us, no great difficulty
attaches to the task of casting off legend from history, and
extracting from the legendary whatever historic material it


In brushing aside all the myths with which the biography of
Rashi is cobwebbed, one finds, not a varied life, rich in
incident, but an entirely intellectual life, whose serenity was
undisturbed by excitement.

An event dividing Rashi's life into almost equal parts is his
taking up his residence at Troyes.  During the earlier period
he received his education, at first in the city of his birth,
then in the academies of Lorraine.  On his return to Troyes,
he had matured and was thoroughly equipped.  In the school
he founded there, he grouped pupils about him and wrote the
works destined to perpetuate his influence.

First of all, it is necessary to make Rashi's acquaintance, as it
were, to know the names he bore and those he did not bear.  An
example of the fantastic stories of which he was the hero is
afforded by the name Yarhi, which is sometimes still given to
him.  It does not date further back than the sixteenth century,
before which time he was called R. Solomon (Shelomo) by the Jews
of France, and R. Salomon ha-Zarfati (the Frenchman) by Jews
outside of France.  Christian scholars likewise called him R.
Salomo Gallicus, and also briefly R. Solomon, as the most
celebrated rabbi who ever bore that name.  So said Abbe
Bartolocci, one of the first and most eminent bibliographers of
rabbinical literature, explaining that the short appellation had
the same force as when Saint Paul is designated simply as "the

The usual name applied to Rashi (R Sh I) is formed, in accordance
with a well-known Jewish custom, from the initials of his name
and patronymic in Hebrew, Rabbi Shelomo Izhaki[9], which the
Christians translated by Solomon Isaacides, just as they made
Maimonides of Moses ben Maimon.  Raymond Martini, the celebrated
author of the Pugio fidei, seems to have been the first
who saw in Rashi the initials of the words, R. Solomon Yarhi.
He confused Rashi either with a Solomon of Lunel, mentioned by
the traveller [traveler sic] Benjamin of Tudela, or with a
grammarian, Solomon ben Abba Mari, of Lunel, who lived in the
second half of the fourteenth century.  Sebastian Munster, the
German Hebraist (1489-1552), and the elder Buxtorf (1564-1629),
the humanist and highly esteemed Hebrew scholar, popularized the
mistake, which soon gave rise to another.  L'Empereur, also a
scholar in Hebraica, of the seventeenth century, went even
further than his predecessors, in holding Lunel [10] to have been
the birthplace of Rashi, while Basnage (1653-1725), the
celebrated historian of the Jews, spoke of "Solomon the Lunatic."

Though as early a writer as Richard Simon (1638-1712) protested
against the error of making Lunel the native city of Rashi, the
mistake crept even into Jewish circles.  Since this city of
Languedoc was one of the principal centres [centers sic] of
Jewish learning in the Provence during the middle ages, Rashi, in
most unexpected fashion, came to swell the number of "scholars"
of Lunel, of whom mention is frequently made in rabbinical
literature.  It even seems that at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, Jews of Bordeaux went to Lunel on a
pilgrimage to his tomb.

In point of fact Rashi was neither a German nor a Provencal; he
was born and he died in Champagne, at Troyes.  At that time
France was divided into a dozen distinct countries, one of the
most important of which was the countship of Champagne, to the
northeast, between the Ile-de-France and Lorraine.  There were
Jews in all the important localities of the province, especially
in the commercial cities.  In the period with which we are
dealing, fairs took place every year successively at Lagny, Bar-
sur-Aube, Provins, Troyes, and again Provins and Troyes.  The
principal city was Troyes, which at the end of the ninth century,
when it contained about twelve thousand inhabitants, was chosen
as their capital by the counts of Champagne.

In a wide plain, where the Seine divides into several branches,
rises the city of Troyes, maintaining to some extent its medieval
character, with its narrow, illpaved streets, which of old
swarmed with geese and porkers, and with its houses of wooden
gables and overhanging roofs.  Manufactures prospered at Troyes.
Many tanneries were established there, and parchment was exported
from all parts of the district.  In fact it has been suggested
that the development of the parchment industry at Troyes
furthered the literary activity for which the province was noted,
by providing writing material at a time when in general it was so
rare.  But manufactures in that period had not attained a high
degree of perfection, and the main instrument for obtaining
wealth was commerce, chiefly the commerce carried on at fairs,
those great lists periodically opened to the commercial activity
of a whole province or a whole country.  Troyes, celebrated for
its fairs, was the scene of two a year, one beginning on St.
John's Day (the warm fair), and one beginning on St. Remy's Day
(the cold fair).  They covered a quarter so important that it
constituted two large parishes by itself.

Although religon [religion sic] had already begun to intervene in
the regulation of the fairs, Jews took a large part in them, and
somewhat later, like the Jews of Poland in the seventeenth
century, they used them as the occasions for rabbinical synods.
In the Jewish sources, the fairs of Troyes are frequently
mentioned.  The relations that sprang up among the great numbers
of Jews that went to them were favorable to the cause of science,
since the Jews in pursuing their material interests did not
forget those of learning.  Thus the fairs exercised a certain
influence upon the intellectual movement.

Troyes was also the seat of a permanent Jewish community of some
importance; for a Responsum of the first half of the eleventh
century declared that the regulations of the community should
have the force of law for each member, and when the regulations
deal with questions of general import they were to hold good for
neighboring communities as well.  Another Responsum dating from
the same period shows that the Jews of France owned land and
cultivated the vine.  Troyes no longer bears visible traces of
the ancient habitation of the Jews.  It is possible that the
parish of St. Frobert occupies the ground covered by the old
Jewry; and probably the church of St. Frobert, now in ruins, and
the church of St. Pantaleon were originally synagogues.  But in
Rashi's works there are more striking evidences that Jews were
identified with Troyes.  Certain of his expressions or other
indications attach them to the city of Troyes, "our city," as he

Rashi, then, was born at Troyes in 1040-the year of Gershom's
death, some authors affirm, who are more concerned with the
pragmatism of history than its truth, more with scientific
continuity than with the sequence of events.  But if it is almost
certain that the rabbi, who, as I said, was the precursor of
Rashi, had been dead for twelve years, 1040 (possibly 1038) is
probably the year of the death of another authority, no less
celebrated, Hai Gaon, whose passing away marks the irreparable
decadence of the Babylonian Gaonate.  The French rabbi and his
Spanish colleagues were destined to harvest the fruits of this
Gaonate and carry on its work, exemplifying the words of the
Talmud: "When one star is extinguished in Israel, another star
rises on the horizon."

In order that Rashi should have a setting in accord with so high
a position, legend has surrounded his family with a nimbus of
glory.  History, it is true, does not make mention of his
ancestors, and this silence, joined to the popularity which Rashi
came to enjoy, inspired, or was an added stimulus to, the
fantastic genealogic theories of those who in their admiration of
him, or through pride of family, declared him to have been
descended from a rabbi of the third century, Johanan ha-
Sandlar.[11]  All that can be said with certainty is, that his
maternal uncle was Simon the Elder, a disciple of Gershom and a
learned and respected rabbi.  Rashi's father Isaac appears to
have been well-educated.  Rashi on one occasion mentions a
certain bit of instruction he had received from him.  Tradition,
fond of ascribing illustrious ancestors to its heroes, would see
in this Isaac one who through his knowledge and godliness
deserved to share in the renown of his son, and to whom his son,
moreover, rendered pious homage by quoting him in the opening
passage[12] of the commentary on Genesis.  We would willingly
believe Rashi capable of a delicate attention of this kind, only
we know that the Isaac cited is a certain Talmudic scholar.

Tradition, letting its fancy play upon the lives of great men,
delights also in clothing their birth with tales of marvels.
Sometimes the miraculous occurs even before they are born and
points to their future greatness.  The father of Rashi, for
instance, is said to have possessed a precious gem of great
value.  Some Christians wanted to take it away from him, either
because they desired to put it to a religious use, or because
they could not bear the sight of such a treasure in the hands of
a Jew.  Isaac obstinately refused their offers.  One day the
Christians lured him into a boat, and demanded that he give up
his gem.  Isaac, taking a heroic stand, threw the object of their
ardent desires into the water.  Then a mysterious voice was heard
in his school pronouncing these words: "A son will be born to
thee, O Isaac, who will enlighten the eyes of all Israel."
According to a less familiar tradition, Isaac lived in a seaport
town, where he earned a poor livelihood as stevedore.  Once he
found a pearl in the harbor, and went in all haste to show it to
his wife, the daughter of a jeweler.  Realizing the value of the
pearl, she could not contain herself, and went forthwith to a
jeweler.  He offered her ten thousand ducats, double its value,
because the duke was anxious to buy it as an adornment for the
bishop's cope.  The woman would not listen to the proposition,
and ran back to her husband to tell him to what use the pearl was
going to be put.  Rather than have it adorn a bishop's vestment,
Isaac threw it into the sea, sacrificing his fortune to his God.

The scene of another tradition is laid at Worms.  One day his
wife, who had become pregnant, was walking along a street of the
city when two carriages coming from opposite directions collided.
The woman in danger of being crushed pressed up close against a
wall, and the wall miraculously sank inward to make way for her.
This made Isaac fear an accusation of witchcraft, and he left
Worms for Troyes, where a son was born to him, whom he named

To turn from the mythical to the hypothetical-the young Solomon
probably received his early education in his own family, and what
this education was, can easily be conceived.  It was the duty of
the father himself to take charge of the elementary instruction
of his son and turn the first glimmerings of the child's reason
upon the principles of religion.  This instruction was
concentrated upon the observance of laws and customs.  "From the
tenderest age," says Dr. M. Berliner, "the child was initiated
into the observance of religious precepts, and was put upon his
guard against their transgression.  His parents had but one aim,
to inculcate in him the religion of his ancestors and render the
Law, the source of this religion, accessible to him.  He was thus
inured to the struggle of life, in which his shield was belief in
God.  The mother also took part in the rearing of her child.  Her
lullabies were often prayers or Biblical hymns, and although the
women, as a rule, did not receive a thorough education, they
effectually helped to make observant devotees of the Law of their
children."[13]  Five or six was the age at which Hebrew was begun
to be taught to the child, and the occasion was usually
celebrated by a picturesque ceremony full of poetic feeling.  On
the morning of the Pentecost, the festival which commemorates the
giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai, or on the morning of the
Rejoicing of the Law, the day devoted above all others to
honoring the Law, the child, dressed in his holiday clothes and
wrapped in a Tallit, was led to the synagogue by his father or by
a scholar who acted as sponsor.  In the synagogue the child
listened to the reading of the Law; then he was led to the house
of the teacher to whom his education was to be entrusted.  The
teacher took him in his arms, "as a nursing-father carrieth the
sucking child," and presented him with a tablet, on which were
written the Hebrew alphabet and some verses from the Bible
applicable to the occasion.  The tablet was then spread with
honey, which the child ate as if to taste the sweetness of the
Law of God.  The child was also shown a bun made by a young
maiden, out of flour kneaded together with milk and with oil or
honey, and bearing among other inscriptions the words of Ezekiel:
"Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with
this roll that I give thee.  Then did I eat it; and it was in my
mouth as honey for sweetness." Other Biblical passages were
inscribed on the shell of an egg, and after they were read, the
bun and the egg as well as apples and other fruit were eaten by
the pupils present.

This ceremony, marred only by the introduction of superstitious
practices, such as the conjuring up of evil demons, was well
adapted to stamp itself on the child's mind, and its naive
symbolism was bound to make a profound impression upon his
imagination.  Pagan antiquity knew of nothing so delicate and at
the same time so elevated in sentiment.  Pindar, and Horace after
him, conceived the fancy that the bees of Hymettus alighted on
the child's brow and dropped rich honey upon it.  The Jewish
celebration of a new period in childhood, though not a poetic
fiction, is none the less charming and picturesque.  It shows how
precious was the cultivation of the mind to a people whom the
world delights to represent as absorbed by material interests and
consumed by the desire for wealth.  Education has always been
highly valued among the Jews, who long acted up to the saying of
Lessing: "The schoolmaster holds the future in his hands."  The
religious law is a system of instruction, the synagogue is a
school.  It will redound to the eternal honor of Judaism that it
raised the dissemination of knowledge to the height of a
religious precept.  At a time when among the Christians knowledge
was the special privilege of the clergy, learning was open to
every Jew, and, what is still finer, the pursuit of it was
imposed upon him as a strict obligation.  The recalcitrant, say
the legalists, is compelled to employ a tutor for his child.
Every scholar in Israel is obliged to gather children about him;
and the rabbinical works contain most detailed recommendations
concerning the organization of schools and methods of
instruction.  One comes upon principles and rules of pedagogy
unusually advanced for their time.  For instance, teachers were
forbidden to have more than forty pupils, and were not to use a
more severe means of punishment than whipping with a small strap.
In Christian schools, on the contrary, pedagogic methods were
backward and barbarous.  It was considered an excellent plan to
beat all pupils with the ferule [ferrule sic], in order to make
knowledge enter the heads of the bad and to keep the good from
the sin of pride.

Among the Jews instruction was tempered to suit the faculty of
the learner.  First the child was taught to read Hebrew,
translate the daily prayers, and recite the more important of
them by heart.  Then the Pentateuch beginning with Leviticus was
explained to him, and, if necessary, it was translated into
French.  It was read with a special chant.  Rashi, be it said
parenthetically, by his commentary gave this Bible instruction a
more solid basis.  Not until the pupil was a little older did he
study the Talmud, which is so well qualified to develop
intelligence and clear-headedness.  His elementary education
completed, and provided he had shown taste and inclination for
the more difficult studies, the young man went to special
schools.  But if he had not shown signs of progress, he was
taught simply to read Hebrew and understand the Bible.

The author of a curious pedagogic regulation in the middle ages
fixes the whole term of study at fourteen years: the seven years
preceding the religious majority of the child are spent in the
local school, at the study of the Pentateuch (two years), at the
study of the rest of the Bible (two years), and at the study of
the easier Talmudic treatises (three years).  The remaining seven
years are devoted to the higher study of the Talmud in an academy
outside the birthplace of the youth.  This education was obtained
sometimes from private teachers, and sometimes in schools founded
and maintained at the expense of the community or even of
educational societies.

A sufficiently clear idea may thus be obtained of Rashi's early
education; and in assuming that he soon distinguished himself for
precocity and for maturity of thought, we shall not be shooting
wide of the mark.  But legend will not let its heroes off so
cheaply; legend will have it that Rashi, in order to complete his
education, travelled [traveled sic] to the most distant lands.
Not satisfied with having him go to the south of France, to
Narbonne, to the school of Moses ha-Darshan (who had doubtless
died before Rashi's coming to his school was a possibility), or
to Lunel, to attend the school of Zerahiah ha-Levi (not yet
born), tradition maintains that at the age of thirty-three Rashi
made the tour of almost the whole world as then known, in order
to atone for a mistake made by his father, who regretted having
lost a precious object, and also in order to assure himself that
his commentaries had not been surpassed.  He is said to have
traversed Italy, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, and Persia, returning
by way of Germany.

So long a voyage must, of course, have been marked by a number of
events.  In Egypt, Rashi became the disciple-the more exigent
say, the intimate friend-of Maimonides, who, as we all know, was
born in 1135, nearly a century later than Rashi.  Maimonides, as
fiction recounts, conceived a great affection for Rashi, and
imparted to him all his own learning.  Not to fall behind
Maimonides in courtesy, Rashi showed him his commentaries, and
Maimonides at the end of his life declared that he would have
written more commentaries, had he not been anticipated by the
French rabbi.

While in the Orient Rashi is represented as having met a monk,
and the two discussed the superiority of their respective
religions.  At the inn the monk suddenly fell sick.  Rashi,
caring for him as for a brother, succeeded in curing him by means
of a miraculous remedy.  The monk wanted to thank him, but Rashi
interrupted, saying: "Thou owest me nothing in return.  Divided
as we are by our religions, we are united by charity, which my
religion imposes upon me as a duty.  If thou comest upon a Jew in
misfortune, aid him as I have aided thee."  Fictitious though the
story be, it is not unworthy the noble character of Rashi.  He
was noble, therefore noble deeds are ascribed to him.

On his return Rashi is said to have passed through Prague,
whither his reputation had preceded him.  On his entrance into
the synagogue, the declamations of the faithful proved to him the
admiration they felt for the young rabbi of only thirty-six
years.  The pleasure manifested by the Jews irritated Duke
Vratislav, who had the famous rabbi arrested, brought before him,
and questioned in the presence of his counsellor [counselor sic],
the Bishop of Olmutz.  The bishop raising his eyes recognized in
the prisoner the Jew who had saved his life, and he told the
story to the duke.  The order was immediately given to set Rashi
free; but the people, thinking the Jews lost, had fallen upon the
Jewish quarter.  Rashi threw himself at the feet of the
sovereign, and begged protection for his brethren.  Provided with
a safe-conduct, Rashi went forth to appease the mob.  The Jews in
their great joy saluted him as their savior.  Tradition adds that
the duke conceived great admiration for the Jewish scholar, and
made him one of his advisers.

Another, even sweeter reward, awaited him.  Rebecca, the daughter
of his host, fell in love with him, and, as Rashi returned the
feeling, her father consented to the marriage.

But all this is on the face of it romance.  Certain passages in
Rashi's works give abundant proof that Rashi never visited either
Palestine or Babylonia, and his conception of the geography of
the two countries is utterly fantastic.  For instance, he
believed that the Euphrates flowed from the one land into the
other.  Moreover, he himself admitted that his ideas concerning
them were gathered only from the Bible and the Talmud.[14]

Though Rashi did not let his curiosity carry him to all parts of
the globe, he did not confine himself to his birthplace.  He went
first to Worms and then to Mayence, remaining some length of time
in both places.  He was moved to the step, not by taste for
travel, but by taste for study, in accordance with the custom of
his time, by which a student went from school to school in order
to complete his knowledge.  Of old, it was customary for the
workman to make the tour of France for the purpose of perfecting
himself in his trade and finding out the different processes of
manufacture.  Similarly, the student went from city to city, or,
remaining in the same place, from school to school, in order to
study a different subject under each master according to the
manuscripts which the particular master happened to possess, and
which he made his pupils copy.  So far from being disqualified
from entering a school on account of vagabondage, the stranger
student was accorded a warm welcome, especially if he was himself
a scholar.  Strangers found open hospitality in the community,
and were sometimes taken in by the master himself.  Knowledge and
love of knowledge were safe-conducts.  In every city the lettered
new-comer found hosts and friends.

Rashi probably stood in need of such hospitality and protection,
for, if an obscure remark made by him may be relied upon, his
life as a student was not free from care, and he must have
suffered all sorts of privations.  Nor was it rare that fortune
failed to smile upon the students, and-not to give a list of
examples-cases of poverty were fairly frequent in the Christian
universities, at which mendicancy itself was almost respectable.
The temptation might be legitimate to sentimentalize over this
love of knowledge, this zeal for work, as they manifested
themselves in Rashi, causing him to brave all the evil strokes of
fortune for their sake; but one must strain a point to take him
literally when he says, as he does in a certain somewhat involved
passage, that he studied "without nourishment and without
garments." However that may be, the same passage shows that while
still a student whose course was but half completed, he married,
in conformity with the Talmudic maxim, which recommends the Jew
to marry at eighteen years of age.  From time to time he went to
visit his family at Troyes, always returning to Worms or Mayence.

The fact that the academies of Lorraine which Rashi frequented
were in his day the great centres of Talmudic learning, is due to
the happy lot which the Jews enjoyed in that country.  The chief
trading route of Europe at that time connected Italy with Rhenish
Germany, and the Jews knew how to render themselves indispensable
in the traffic along this route.  Moreover, they lived on good
terms with their neighbors.  The explanation of the cordial
relations between Jews and Christians lies in the ease with which
the Jews rose to the level of general culture.  The architecture
of their synagogues is a striking example.  The cathedral of
Worms was built in 1034, at the same period as the synagogue
there.  The two structures display so many similarities that one
is tempted to believe they represent the handiwork of the same
builders.  At all events, it is clear that the Jews cultivated
the Romanesque style, so majestic in its simplicity.[15]

Lorraine was not at that time a province of the German Empire;
and Rashi leaving the banks of the Seine for those of the Rhine
did not expatriate himself in the true sense of the word.
Lorraine, or, as it was then called, Lotharingia, the country of
Lothair (this is the name that occurs in the rabbinical sources),
was more than half French.  Situated between France and Germany,
it came within the sphere of French influence.  French was the
language in current use, spoken by Jew and Christian alike.
German words, in fact, were gallicized in pronunciation.  In
Rashi's day the barons of Lorraine rendered homage to the king of
France, Henry I.  Naturally, then, the Jews of Lorraine and those
of Northern France were in close intellectual communion.  The
academies along the Rhine and the Moselle formed, as it were, the
link between France and Germany.  In general, and despite the
rarity and difficulty of communication, the Jews of France,
Germany, and Italy entered freely into relations with one

No testimony exists to prove that Rashi, as has been said,
studied at Speyer, at which, without doubt, R. Eliakim had not
yet begun to teach.  Possibly, Rashi did go to Germany, if
confidence is to be placed in some information he gives
concerning "the country of Ashkenaz," and if the fact may be
deduced from the occurrence in his commentaries of some dozen
German words, the authenticity of which is not always certain.

Though doubt may attach to Rashi's journeys, it is certain that
Rashi passed the larger number of his years of study (about 1055-
1065) in Worms.  For a long time it was thought-and the belief
still obtains-that he also gave instruction in Worms; and
recently a street in the city was named after him.  Tradition has
connected many things with this alleged stay of Rashi as rabbi at
Worms.  Even in our days visitors are shown the school and the
little synagogue attached to it as recalling his sojourn in the
place, and a small building touching the eastern wall of the
great synagogue is also supposed to perpetuate his memory, and it
is still called the "Rashi Chapel."  At the bottom of the wall a
recess is visible, miraculously caused in order to save his
mother when her life was endangered by the two carriages.[17]
Some say that Rashi taught from this niche, and a seat in it,
raised on three steps, called the Rashi Chair, is still pointed

These traditions do not merit credence.  Moreover, they are of
comparatively recent origin.  For a long time the school bore the
name, not of Rashi, but of Eleazar of Worms, and it was not built
until the beginning of the thirteenth century.  Destroyed in
1615, it was restored in 1720 through the generosity of Loeb
Sinzheim, of Vienna, and at present it is the Jewish hospital.
Alongside the school was a little chapel, belonging to it, which
was destroyed in 1615, restored several years later, and finally
burned by the French in 1689.  The other chapel, the so-called
"Rashi Chapel," his Yeshibah (school), is so tiny that it could
hardly have held the crowd of hearers who thronged there, as
tradition has it, in order to listen to him.  Besides, the
building did not bear the name of Rashi when in 1623 David Joshua
Oppenheim, head of the community, erected the school and
adjoining chapel, as a Hebrew inscription in the southern wall of
the chapel declares.  The chapel having lost its utility was
closed in 1760, and from this time on it has been consecrated to
the memory of Rashi.  It was restored in 1855.

At Worms Rashi first studied under the head of the Talmudic
academy there, Jacob ben Yakar, by that time a man well on in
years.  His age doubtless explains the respect and veneration
paid him, to which his disciple gave touching expression.  But we
know besides how sincere was his piety, his humility, and his
spirit of self-denial.  One day a Christian delivered several
tuns [tons sic] of wine to a Jew of Worms under peculiar
conditions.  Jacob did not want to decide so complicated and
delicate a question, and he fled.  Rashi and another disciple
pursued and overtook him.  Then he authorized the use of the

Once when the community was going to pay its respects to the
emperor or the governor, Jacob declined the honor of heading the
procession.  "I am nothing but a poor man," he said.  "Let others
bring their money, I can offer only my prayers.  Each should give
of that which he has."  Other characteristics of his are
mentioned.  Once he and his colleague, Eliezer, surnamed the
Great, took an animal they had bought to the slaughter house.
There it was found that there was an imperfection in its body;
according to Eliezer the imperfection rendered it unfit for
eating; according to Jacob it was of no importance.  The animal
having been divided, Eliezer threw his share away.  Then Jacob
did the same, saying that he would not eat the meat of an animal
when another denied himself the enjoyment of it.  Later it is
told of Jacob that in his humility he swept the floor of the
synagogue with his beard.  To cite Rashi himself, "I never
protest against the usages in the school of my master, Jacob ben
Yakar: I know that he possessed the finest qualities.  He
considered himself a worm which is trodden underfoot, and he
never arrogated to himself the honor-though he would have been
justified in so doing-of having introduced any innovation

It seems that Rashi, who spoke of Jacob ben Yakar with the utmost
respect, and called him "my old master," studied not only the
Talmud but also the Bible under his guidance.

The scholar who desired to obtain a grasp on all the studies, if
not in their full content, at least in all their variety, had to
devote many years to study at a school, not necessarily the same
school, throughout his student years, for since the celebrity of
a school depended upon the knowledge and renown of its head, it
gained and lost pupils with its master.

Thus, on the death of Jacob ben Yakar, Rashi studied under the
guidance of his successor, Isaac ben Eleazar ha-Levi,[18] though
not for long, it seems.  Wishing in a way to complete the cycle
of instruction, he went to Mayence, the centre [center sic] of
great Talmudic activity.  The school here was directed by Isaac
ben Judah (about 1050-1080), sometimes called the "Frenchman."
Rashi considered Isaac ben Judah his master par
excellence.  In this school were composed the Talmudic
commentaries generally attributed to R. Gershom and sometimes
cited under the title of "Commentaries of the Scholars of
Mayence."  Isaac ben Judah - not to be confounded with Isaac ha-
Levi, both having been the disciples of Eliezer the Great-was
scrupulously pious, and absolutely bound by traditional usage.

Rashi, it thus becomes apparent, was not content to learn from
only one master, he attended various schools, as if he had had a
prevision of his future task, to sum up and, as it were,
concentrate all Talmudic teachings and gather the fruits of the
scientific activities of all these academies.  Similarly, Judah
the Saint, before he became the redactor of the Mishnah, placed
himself under a number of learned men, "as if," says Graetz, "he
had had a presentiment that one day he would collect the most
diverse opinions and put an end to the juridical debates of the

Rashi's intellectual status during these years of study must not
be misunderstood.  Pupil he doubtless was, but such a one as in
course of time entered into discussions with his teachers, and to
whom questions were submitted for decision.  It may even be that
toward the end of his school period, he commenced to compose his
Talmudic commentaries, or, rather, revise the notes of his

At Worms as at Mayence, his fellow-students probably counted
among their number those young scholars who remained his friends
and correspondents.  Such were Azriel ben Nathan, his kinsman
Eliakim ha-Levi ben Meshullam, of Speyer (born about 1030),
Solomon ben Simson, Nathan ben Machir and his brothers Menahem
and Yakar, Meir ha-Cohen and his son Abraham, Samuel ha-Levi and,
chief of all, his brother David, Nathan ben Jehiel and his
brothers Daniel and Abraham, Joseph ben Judah Ezra, Durbal, and
Meir ben Isaac ben Samuel[19] (about 1060), acting rabbi and
liturgical poet, mentioned by Rashi in terms of praise and
several times cited by him as an authority.  Meir of Rameru,
later the son-in-law of Rashi, also studied at the academies of
Lorraine, though probably not at the same time as Rashi, but a
short while after.

As is natural, it was of his teachers that Rashi preserved the
most faithful recollections, and he refers to them as
authoritative even after he had surpassed them in knowledge and
reputation.  He does not always mention their names in repeating
their opinions.  If it were possible to make a distinction and
decide the authorship of each sentence, it would be found that we
are not far from the truth in asserting that the greater part of
the pupil's work was the work of his masters.[20]

But in literature, as elsewhere, honor does not redound to the
workmen who have gotten the material together, but to the
architect,  wise and skilful [skillful sic], who conceives and
carries out the plan for the entire edifice, and, with the stones
others have brought, constructs a monument of vast proportions.

                           CHAPTER III

                   RASHI AT TROYES-LAST YEARS

The youth Rashi has now completed his apprenticeship; in his
studies and travels he has amassed a vast store of information,
which he will use for the profit of his contemporaries and of
posterity; and he now believes himself in possession of
sufficient knowledge and experience to strike out for himself.
Moreover, he must now provide for his family-we have seen that he
married while still a student.  But he does not give up his

His change of abode was the only change in his life, a life of
remarkable unity, the life of a student.  Rashi gave himself up
entirely to study, to study without cessation, and to teaching;
but teaching is only a form of pursuing one's studies and summing
them up.


Detailed and comprehensive though the Talmudic studies were,
nevertheless the student, especially if he was gifted, completed
the course when he was not much more than twenty years of age.
Rashi, then, was probably close to twenty-five years old when he
returned from Mayence.  This return marks an epoch in the history
of rabbinical literature.  From that time, the study of the
Talmud was cultivated not alone upon the banks of the Rhine, but
also in Champagne, which came to rival and soon supplant
Lorraine, and having freed itself from the subjection of the
Rhenish schools, radiated the light of science.  Jews from all
over Christian Europe gathered there to bask in the warmth of the
new home of Jewish learning.  Less than ten centuries earlier, the
same thing had happened when Rab transplanted the teaching of the
Law from Palestine to Babylonia, and founded an academy at Sura,
which, for a while rivalling [rivaling sic] the Palestinian
schools, soon eclipsed them, and finally became the principal
centre [center sic] of Jewish science.  The Kabbalist was not so
very far from the truth when he believed that the soul of Rab had
passed into the body of Rashi.

It is noteworthy that this upgrowth of Talmudic schools in
Champagne coincides with the literary movement then beginning in
Christian France.  In emerging from the barbarous state of the
early middle ages, it seems that the same breath of life
quickened the two worlds.  The city of Troyes played an especially
important role in matters intellectual and religious.  A number of
large councils were held there, and the ecclesiastical school of
Troyes enjoyed a brilliant reputation, having trained scholars
such as Olbert, Pierre Comestor, Pierre de Celle, and William of
the White Hands.  And it was near Troyes that the mighty voices of
Abelard and Saint Bernard resounded.

There is a curious reminder of Rashi's sojourn at Troyes.  As late
as 1840 an ancient butcher shop was still standing, into which,
it was remarked, flies never entered.  Jewish tradition has it
that the shop was built on the spot previously occupied by
Rashi's dwelling-hence its miraculous immunity.  The same legend
is found among the Christians, but they ascribe the freedom from
flies to the protection of Saint Loup, the patron saint of the
city, who himself worked the miracle.  Rashi is linked with Troyes
in ways more natural as well.  As I have said, certain expressions
occur in his works which he himself says refer to his city.  Some
scholars have even stated that they recognized in the language
he used the dialect of Troyes, a variety of the speech of
Champagne, itself a French patois.

It is probable that Rashi-who was never at the head of the
Talmudic schools of Worms or Prague, as the legends go-exercised
the functions of a rabbi at Troyes, that he never kept himself
exclusively within the confines of his school, 'and that he felt
it his duty to instruct all his fellow-Jews.  In conjunction with
his intellectual endowments, he possessed faith and charity, the
true sources of strength in religious leadership.  He was the
natural champion of the weak,[21] the judge and supervisor of all
acts.  He pronounced judgment in cases more or less distantly
connected with religion, that is, in nearly all cases at a period
so thoroughly religious in character.  Either because he had been
appointed their rabbi by the faithful, or because he enjoyed
great prestige, Rashi was the veritable spiritual chief of the
community, and even exercised influence upon the surrounding
communities.  The man to preside over the religious affairs of the
Jews was chosen not so much for his birth and breeding as for his
scholarship and piety, since the rabbi was expected to
distinguish himself both in learning and in character.  "He who is
learned, gentle, and modest," says the Talmud, "and who is
beloved of men, he should be judge in his city." As will soon be
made clear, Rashi fulfilled this ideal.  His piety and amiability,
in as great a degree as his learning, won for him the admiration
of his contemporaries and of posterity.  At Troyes there was no
room for another at the head of the community.

Like most of the rabbis of the time, Rashi accepted no
compensation from the community for his services, and he probably
lived from what he earned by viticulture.  Once he begs a
correspondent to excuse the shortness of his letter, because he
and his family were busy with the vintage.  "All the Jews," he
said, "are at this moment engaged in the vineyards." In a letter
to his son-in-law Meir, he gives a description of the wine-
presses of Troyes, in the installation of which a change had been
made.  It was deemed fitting that the scholar should provide for
the needs of his family; the law in fact imposed it upon him as a
duty.  "Religious study not accompanied by work of the hands is
barren and leads to sin." The functions of a rabbi were purely
honorific in character, dignifying, and unrelated in kind to'
mercantile goods, for which one receives pay.  It was forbidden to
make the law a means of earning one's living or a title to glory.
"He who profits by his studies or who studies for his own
interest, compromises his salvation."

When the religious representative showed such devotion and
disinterestedness, the pious willingly submitted themselves to
his authority.  The spiritual heads of the communities had as
great ascendency [ascendancy sic] over believing Jews as a king
had over his subjects; they were sovereigns in the realm of the
spirit.  And Rashi in his time, because of his learning and
piety, exercised the most undisputed authority.  His influence
though not so great was comparable, in the sphere in which it
could be exercised, with that of the great Saint Bernard upon the
entire Christian world, or with that of Maimonides upon Judaism
in the Arabic countries.

People in all circumstances and from all the surrounding
countries addressed themselves to him; and to the list of his
correspondents in Lorraine may be added the names of several
French rabbis, the "wise men" of Auxerre, the scholar Solomon of
Tours, whom Rashi calls his dear friend, his kinsman Eleazar,
and R. Aaron the Elder.  His correspondence on learned questions
was so large that sometimes, as when he was ill, for instance, he
would have his disciples or relatives help him out with it.[22]

About 1070 Rashi founded a school at Troyes, which soon became
the centre [center sic] of instruction in the Talmud for the
whole region.  As we have seen, Gershom trained a number of
disciples who directed schools, each of which pursued a
particular course.  Rashi united these various tendencies, as,
later, his work put an end to the activity of the commentators
of the Talmud.  An explanation is thus afforded of the legend
repeated by Basnage in these words: "He made a collection of the
difficulties he had heard decided during his travels.  On his
return to Europe he went to all the academies and disputed with
the professors about the questions which they were discussing;
then he threw to the floor a page of his collections, which gave
a solution of the problem, and so ended the controversy, without,
however, mentioning the name of the author of the decision.  It
is alleged that these leaves scattered in thousands of places
were gathered together, and that from them was composed the
commentary on the Talmud."  The legend attests Rashi's great
reputation.  While he was still quite young, his renown had
rapidly spread.

When in Lorraine, he had from time to time paid a visit to
Troyes, and so, later, when definitely established in Champagne,
he maintained relations with his masters, especially with Isaac
ha-Levi, whom he visited and with whom he corresponded in the
interim of his visits.  Isaac ha-Levi was no less fond of his
favorite pupil, and he inquired of travellers [travelers sic]
about him.  He addressed Responsa to Rashi on questions of
Talmudic jurisprudence.  In fact, Rashi continued to solicit
advice from his teachers and keep himself informed of everything
concerning schools and Talmudic instruction.  In this way he once
learned that a Talmudic scholar of Rome, R. Kalonymos (ben
Sabbatai, born before 1030) had come after the death of Jacob ben
Yakar to establish himself at Worms, where he died, probably a
martyr's death, during the First Crusade.  Kalonymos, who enjoyed
a great reputation, wrote Talmudic commentaries and liturgical
poems.  His was a personality rare in that period.

Rashi's masters, in turn, often applied to their pupil for
advice, choosing him as arbiter and consulting him with a
deference more fitting toward a colleague than a disciple.  Isaac
ha-Levi wrote the following words, in which one detects real
esteem and admiration underlying epistolary emphasis and the
usual exaggeration of a compliment: "Blessed be the Lord who
willed that this century should not be orphaned, who has steadied
our tottering generation by eminent teachers, such as my dear and
respected friend, my kinsman R. Solomon.  May Israel boast many
another such as he!" Equally sincere seems the salutation of a
letter written to Rashi by Isaac ben Judali: "To him who is
beloved in heaven and honored on earth, who possesses the
treasures of the Law, who knows how to resolve the most subtle
and profound questions, whose knowledge moves mountains and
shatters rocks, etc."

After the death of Rashi's teachers (about 1075) his school
'assumed even more importance.  It eclipsed the academies of
Lorraine, and from all the neighboring countries it attracted
pupils, who later went forth and spread the teachings of their
master abroad.  Rashi came to be considered almost the regenerator
of Talmudic studies, and in the following generation Eliezer ben
Xathan said with pious admiration: "His lips were the seat of
wisdom, and thanks to him the Law, which he examined and
interpreted, has come to life again."

In this school, justly renowned as the centre [center sic] of
Jewish science, master and pupil were animated by equal love for
their work.  Entire days were spent there in study, and often,
especially in winter, entire nights as well.  The studies were
regulated by a judicious method.  The teacher began to explain a
treatise of the Talmud on the first of the month, in order that
the students might take their measures accordingly, and not delay
coming until after the treatise had been begun.  The pupils took
notes dictated by the teacher, and thus composed manuscripts
which are still of great value.  In so doing they fixed all the
minutiae of a detailed process of argumentation.  On the other
hand, books were rare, and students poor.  The master himself, in
order to facilitate his task, wrote explanations during the
lesson, and these served as textbooks, which, like the students'
notebooks, became treasure houses for later generations.

Rashi not only imparted knowledge to his pupils, but received
knowledge from them in turn.  He set great store by their
observations.  His grandson Samuel ben Meir once drew his
attention to a certain form of Biblical parallelism, in which the
second hemistich completes the first, as in the following verse
from Psalm xciii:

   "The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
    The floods have lifted up their voice."

After this, each time Rashi came across a similarly constructed
verse, he would say with mock gravity: "Here's a verse for my

The Jewish student led a pure, regulated existence, with only
wholesome distractions, such as the little celebrations when the
study of a Talmudic treatise had been completed.  His greatest
pleasure he found in the swordplay of mind against mind, in the
love of knowledge and religion.

Rashi did not content himself with giving instruction only to
students under his immediate influence.  He desired that his
teachings should not be lost to men unknown to him and to unborn
generations.  He realized that everything so far accomplished in
the field of Talmudic and even Biblical exegesis was inadequate,
and he therefore undertook the works that were to occupy him the
rest of his life.  His school was, so to speak, the laboratory of
which his Biblical and Talmudic commentaries were the products.
They involved a vast amount of toil, and though death overtook
him before his task was accomplished, he doubtless began the work
early in life.[23] A legend goes that he was forbidden to write
commentaries on the Bible before he was a hundred years old.
Rashi with all his ardor for learning could not curb himself and
postpone his activity for so long a time, and he turned the
prohibition in his own favor by explaining that the sum of the
Hebrew letters forming the word "hundred" amounted to forty-six.

Rashi's disciples were in very truth his sons, for no sons were
born to the illustrious rabbi.  But he had three daughters, who
each married a Talmudist, so that Rashi's descendants, no less
than himself, were the bearers of rabbinic learning in France.
Rashi did not limit his association with his pupils to the
school-house, but invited them to enter his family circle.
Indeed, this was the highest honor to which they could aspire.
It has always been the greatest piece of good fortune for a Jew
to marry the daughter of a learned and pious man, and the suitors
most desired by and for young girls were scholars.  In this way
arose veritable dynasties of rabbis, who cherished learning as a
heritage, a family treasure, and the Rashi "dynasty" was one of
the greatest and most renowned among them.

Tradition has delighted in representing Rashi's daughters as
highly endowed.  Unfortunately, it seems that the education of
women among the Jews of the middle ages was greatly neglected,
though they were taught the principles of religion and the
ordinances which it was their special duty to fulfil [fulfill
sic].  They possessed the domestic virtues, and above all modesty
and charity.  They helped their husbands in business, thus
enabling them to devote themselves more freely to study, and
though the women themselves lacked learning, they concerned
themselves with the learning of their men-folk, and were eager
to contribute to the support of schools and pupils.  They were
extremely pious, often scrupulously so.  The women in a family of
scholars had sufficient knowledge to be called upon in ritual
questions, as, for instance, Bellette, sister of Isaac ben
Menahem the Great, of Orleans, a contemporary of Rashi, who
appealed to her authority.  Other cases of the same kind are
mentioned, some occurring in Rashi's own family, his
granddaughter Miriam having been asked to adjudicate a doubtful
case.  One of Rashi's daughters, also called Miriam, married
the scholar Judah ben Nathan.  Rachel, another daughter, given
a French epithet, Bellassez,[24] also seems to have been learned.
Her union with a certain Eliezer, or Jocelyn, was unhappy.  Not
so the marriage of the third daughter of Rashi, Jochebed, whose
husband was the scholar Meir, son of Samuel, of Rameru, a little
village near Troyes.  She had four sons, named Samuel, Jacob,
Isaac, and Solomon.  The three first, and in a less degree the
fourth, too, continued in glorious wise the traditions of their
grandfather.  I shall have occasion again to mention them,
their life, and their work.

The renown of his posterity, far from dimming Rashi's brilliance,
only added fresh lustre [luster sic] to the name of him who was
both father and revered master.  Even in his life-time Rashi
could reap the harvest of his efforts, and though death
intervened before his work was completed, he saw at his side
collaborators ready to continue what he had begun.

A marriage among the Jews of France of that epoch must have been
a charming and touching ceremony, to judge from a picturesque
description, given by an author of the fourteenth century, of a
wedding at Mayence, a city in which the community had preserved
ancient customs.

Several days before the ceremony the beadle invited all the
faithful; for it was a public festival, and everybody was
supposed to share in the joy of the bride and bridegroom.  On the
day of the wedding, the bridegroom, attended by the rabbi and men
of standing in the community and followed by other members of the
congregation, proceeded to the synagogue to the accompaniment of
music.  At the synagogue he was awaited by the bride, who was
surrounded by her maids of honor and by a number of women.  The
rabbi presented the young girl to the bridegroom, and he took her
hand, while the by-standers showered grains of wheat upon them
and small pieces of money, which were picked up by the poor.
Then, hand in hand, the couple walked to the door of the
synagogue, where they paused a while.  After this the bride was
led to her own home so that she might complete her toilet.  Under
a large mantle of silk and fur, with puffed sleeves, she wore a
white robe, symbol of the mourning for Zion, the memory of which
was not to leave her even on this day of joy.  The sign of
mourning adopted for the bridegroom was a special headgear.

After the bridegroom had returned to the synagogue and placed
himself near the Ark of the Law, the morning service was held.
Meanwhile the bride was led to the door of the synagogue, always
to the accompaniment of music, and the bridegroom, conducted by
the rabbi and the heads of the community, went to receive her
there.  He placed himself on her left, and preceded by his mother
and the mother of the bride, he guided her to the pulpit in the
centre [center sic] of the synagogue.  Here was pronounced the
nuptial benediction.

The ceremony over, the husband hastened to his home to meet his
wife and introduce her to the dwelling of which she was to be the
mistress.  Here it was that the wedding feast was spread.
Festivities continued for several days, and the following
Saturday special hymns were inserted in the service in honor of
the newlywedded couple.[25]  No parade or pomp marred the beauty
and grace of this ceremony, every act of which bespoke pure
poetry and religion.

From this it is evident how much domestic virtues were prized
among the Jews of the middle ages.  The family was expected to be
a model of union and harmony, of tenderness of mate toward mate
and parents toward children.  Gentleness and a spirit of trust
were to preside over the household.  Rashi, as we shall see,[26]
speaks in moving terms of the high regard which a man owes his


But it was not given to Rashi to pass untroubled through his
fruitful life of study.  A terrible shock surprised him.  The
eleventh century set in a sea of blood.

Some legends have a hardy life.  Not the least remarkable of these
is the myth that the Crusades were wholly inspired by religious
zeal.  These great European movements are always represented as
having been called forth by enthusiasm and thirst for self-
sacrifice.  A great wave of faith, we are told, swept over the
masses, and carried them on to the conquest of the Holy
Sepulchre.  There is another side to the shield-faith fawning on
political expediency and egoism, and turning brigand.  Without
doubt many Christians went on the Crusades impelled by religious
conviction.  But how many nourished less vague ideas in their
hearts?  Not to mention those whose only aim was to escape from
the consequences of their misdeeds and obtain absolution and
indulgences, not to mention those who were animated by a foolish
sense of chivalry, by love of adventure, of perilous risks, drawn
by the attraction of the unknown and the marvellous [marvelous
sic] - apart from these, there was the great mass, impelled by
greed and thirst for pillage.

Complaisant historians express their admiring wonder at these
"hundreds of thousands of men fighting with their eyes doggedly
fixed upon the Holy Sepulchre and dying in order to conquer it."
They pity these "multitudes of men who threw themselves on Islam
the unknown, these naive, trusting spirits, who each day imagined
themselves at Jerusalem, and died on the road thither." Would it
not be well for them to reserve a little of their admiration and
pity for the unfortunates that were the victims of these "naive"
multitudes? Ought they not to say that this religious fervor was
a mixture chiefly of blind hate and bloody fanaticism? After a
victory the Crusaders would massacre the populations of the
conquered cities, including in the slaughter not only the
Mohammedans but also the Oriental Christians.  Then why should we
wonder if on the road to Palestine they laid violent hands on the
Jews they found by the way?[27]

It is known what an important part France played in the First
Crusade.  From France issued the spark that set the entire
Occident aflame, and France furnished the largest contingent to
the Crusades.

However, the disorders in France were merely local.  If the rage
for blood enkindled by the First Crusade scarcely affected the
Jews of France, it is because the population was concentrated on
the banks of the Rhine.  But here its murderous frenzy knew no
bounds.  The people threw themselves on the Jewish communities of
Treves, Speyer, Worms, Mayence, and Cologne, and put to death all
who refused to be converted (May to July, 1096).  The noise of
events such as these perforce "found a path through the sad
hearts" of the Jews of Champagne; for they maintained lively and
cordial relations with their brethren in the Rhine lands, many
being bound to them by ties of kinship.  Among the martyrs of
1096 was Asher ha-Levi, who was the disciple of Isaac ben
Eleazar, Rashi's second teacher, and who died together with his
mother, his two brothers, and their families.  From a Hebrew text
we learn that the Jews of France ordered a fast and prayers in
commemoration of these awful massacres, the victims of which
numbered not less than ten thousand.

But all could not sacrifice their lives for the sake of their
faith.  Though so large a number were slain by the pious hordes
or slew one another in order to escape violence, others allowed
themselves to be baptized, or adopted Christianity, in appearance
at least.  After the Crusaders were at a distance, on the way to
their death in the Orient, the Jews left behind could again
breathe freely.  Of many of them, Gregory of Tours might have said
that "the holy water had washed their bodies but not their
hearts, and, liars toward God, they returned to their original
heresy."  The emperor of Germany, Henry IV, it seems, even
authorized those who had been forced into baptism to return to
Judaism, and the baptized Jews hastened to throw off the hateful
mask.  This benevolent measure irritated the Christian clergy, and
the Pope bitterly reproached the Emperor.

What sadder, more curious spectacle than that which followed?
Many of those Jews who had remained faithful to their religion
would not consider the apostates as their brethren, unwilling
apostates though they had been, and strenuously opposed their
re-admission to the Synagogue.

This unwillingness to compound, showing so little generosity and
charity, must have distressed Rashi profoundly.  For, when
consulted in regard to the repulsed converts, he displayed a
loftiness of view and a breadth of tolerance which Maimonides
himself could not equal.  In similar circumstances Maimonides,
it seems, in intervening, yielded a little to personal
prepossession.  "Let us beware," wrote Rashi, "let us beware of
alienating those who have returned to us by repulsing them.  They
became Christians only through fear of death; and as soon as the
danger disappeared, they hastened to return to their faith."

Though the First Crusade affected the Jews of France only
indirectly, it none the less marks a definite epoch in their
history.  The fanaticism it engendered wreaked its fury upon the
Jews, against whom all sorts of odious charges were brought.
They were placed in the same category as sorcerers and lepers,
and among the crimes laid at their door were ritual murder and
piercing of the host.  The instigations of the clergy did not
remain without effect upon a people lulled to sleep by its
ignorance, but aroused to action by its faith.  The kings and
seigneurs on their side exploited the Jews, and expelled them
from their territories.

Rashi had the good fortune not to know these troublous times.  But
he discerned in a sky already overcast the threatening
premonitions of a tempest, and as though to guard his fellow-Jews
against the danger, he left them a work which was to be a
viaticum and an asylum to them.  When one sees how Rashi's work
brought nourishment, so to speak, to all later Jewish literature,
which was a large factor in keeping Israel from its threatened
ruin, one is convinced that Rashi, aside from his literary
efforts, contributed no slight amount toward the preservation and
the vitality of the Jewish people.

Even if the Crusades had not involved persecution of the Jews and
so provoked the noble intervention of Rashi, they would
nevertheless have made themselves felt in Champagne.  Count Hugo,
among others, remained in the Holy Land from 1104 to 1108; and
his brother was killed at Ramleh in 1102.  According to a rather
wide-spread legend, Rashi stood in intimate relations with one of
the principal chiefs of the Crusade, the famous duke of Lower
Lotharingia, Godfrey of Bouillon.  Historians have found that the
part actually played by the duke in the Crusades is smaller than
that ascribed to him by tradition, yet the profound impression he
made on the popular imagination has remained, and legend soon
endowed him with a fabulous genealogy, making of him an almost
mythical personage.  A favorite trick of the makers of legends is
to connect their heroes with celebrated contemporaries, as though
brilliance was reflected from one upon the other.  Thus Saladin
was connected with Maimonides and with Richard the Lion-Hearted,
and, similarly, Rashi with Godfrey of Bouillon.

The story goes that Godfrey, having heard rumors of the knowledge
and wisdom of the rabbi of Troyes, summoned Rashi to his presence
to consult with him upon the issue of his undertaking.  Rashi
refused to appear.  Annoyed, Godfrey accompanied by his cavaliers
went to the rabbi's school.  He found the door open, but the
great building empty.  By the strength of his magic Rashi had
made himself invisible, but he himself could see everything.
"Where art thou, Solomon?" cried the cavalier.  "Here I am," a
voice answered; "what does my lord demand?"  Godfrey not seeing a
living soul repeated his question, and always received the same
answer.  But not a man to be seen!  Utterly confounded, he left
the building and met a disciple of Rashi's.  "Go tell thy
master," he said, "that he should appear; I swear he has nothing
to fear from me."  The rabbi then revealed himself.[28]  "I see,"
Godfrey said to him, "that thy wisdom is great.  I should like to
know whether I shall return from my expedition victorious, or
whether I shall succumb.  Speak without fear."

"Thou wilt take the Holy City," Rashi replied, "and thou wilt
reign over Jerusalem three days, but on the fourth day the Moslem
will put thee to flight, and when thou returnest only three
horses will be left to thee."

"It may be," replied Godfrey, irritated and disillusioned in
seeing his future pictured in colors so sombre.  "But if I return
with only one more horse than thou sayest, I shall wreak
frightful vengeance upon thee.  I shall throw thy body to the
dogs, and I shall put to death all the Jews of France."

After several years of fighting Godfrey of Bouillon, ephemeral
king of Jerusalem, took his homeward road back to France,
accompanied by three cavaliers, in all, 'then, four horses, one
more than Rashi had predicted.  Godfrey remembered the rabbi's
prophecy, and determined to carry out his threat.  But when he
entered the city of Troyes, a large rock, loosened from the gate,
fell upon one of the riders, killing him and his horse.  Amazed at
the miracle, the duke perforce had to recognize that Rashi had
not been wrong, and he wanted to go to the seer to render him
homage, but he learned that Rashi had died meanwhile.  This
grieved him greatly.

This legend was further embellished by the addition of details.
Some placed the scene at Worms; others asserted that the duke
asked Rashi to accompany him to Lorraine; but Rashi nobly
refused, as Maimonides did later.  All forgot that Godfrey of
Bouillon after he left for the Crusades never saw his fatherland
again, but died at Jerusalem, five years before Rashi.

Rashi's life offers no more noteworthy events.  He passed the
balance of his days in study, in guiding the community, and in
composing his works.  Without doubt, our lack of information
concerning his last years is due to this very fact-to the peace
and calm in which that time was spent.

A naive legend has it that he wanted to know who would be his
companion in Paradise.  He learned in a dream that the man lived
at Barcelona, and was called Abraham the Just.  In order to
become acquainted with him while still on earth, Rashi, despite
his great age, started forth on a journey to Barcelona.  There he
found a very rich man, but, as was alleged, he was also very
impious.  However, Rashi was not long in discovering that for all
his life of luxury he was just and generous of spirit.  Rashi
even composed a work in his honor entitled "The Amphitryon," in
Hebrew, Ha-Parnes.  Do you think the work was lost?  Not a
bit of it.  It still exists, but it is called Ha-Pardes.
The legend is based upon a copyist's mistake.  However, it is
found in different forms in other literatures.

Beyond a doubt Rashi died and was buried in his birthplace.
Nevertheless the story is told, that as he was about to return to
France with his young wife, the daughter of his host at Prague,
after his long trip of study and exploration, which I have
already described, an unknown man entered his dwelling and struck
him a mortal blow.  But the people could not resign themselves to
accept so miserable an end for so illustrious a man, and the
legend received an addition.  At the very moment Rashi was to be
buried, his wife ran up and brought him back to life by means of
a philtre.  His father-in-law, in order not to excite the envy of
his enemies, kept the happy event a secret, and ordered the
funeral to be held.  The coffin was carried with great pomp to
the grave, which became an object of veneration for the Jews of
Prague.  In fact, a tomb is pointed out as being that of the
celebrated rabbi, and, as the inscription is effaced, the
assertion can safely be made that Rashi died in the capital of

Rashi's death was less touching and less tragic.  We learn from a
manuscript dated Thursday, the twenty-ninth of Tammuz, in the
year 4865 of the Creation (July 13, 1105), that Rashi died at
Troyes.  He was then sixty-five years of age.

It is as though the echo of the regrets caused by Rashi's death
resounded in the following note in an old manuscript: "As the
owner of a fig-tree knows when it is time to cull the figs, so
God knew the appointed time of Rashi, and carried him away in his
hour to let him enter heaven.  Alas! he is no more, for God has
taken him."  These few lines, without doubt the note of some
copyist, show with what deep respect the memory of Rashi came to
be cherished but shortly after his death.  Like Rabbeun Gershom he
was awarded after his death the title of "Light of the
Captivity."  But later the title was applied only to Gershom, as
though Rashi had no need of it to distinguish him.

Rashi died "full of days," having led a life of few incidents,
because it was uniformly devoted to study and labor.  He was like
a patriarch who is surrounded by the affection of his children
and by the respect of his contemporaries.  To future generations
he bequeathed the memory of his virtues and the greatness of his
work.  And his memory has survived the neglect of time and the
ingratitude of man.  Posterity has enveloped his brow with a halo
of glory, and after the lapse of eight centuries the radiance of
his personality remains undiminished.

                           CHAPTER IV


Not only is there little information concerning the incidents of
Rashi's life, but also there are only a few sources from which we
can learn about his mental makeup and introduce ourselves, so to
speak, into the circle of his thoughts and ideas.  Generally one
must seek the man in his work.  But into writings so objective as
those of a commentator who does not even exert himself to set
forth his method and principles in a preface, a man is not apt to
put much of his own personality.  Moreover, Rashi was disposed to
speak of himself as little as possible.  From time to time,
however, he lets a confidence escape, and we treasure it the more
carefully because of its rarity.

Fortunately we can get to know him a little better through his
letters, that is, through the Responsa addressed by him to those
who consulted him upon questions of religious law.  Another
source, no less precious, is afforded by the works of his pupils,
who noted with pious care the least acts or expressions of their
master that were concerned with points of law.

I shall endeavor to sum up all this information, so that we may
get a picture of the man and trace his features in as distinct
lines as possible.


Needless to say, Rashi's conduct was always honorable and his
manners irreproachable.  To be virtuous was not to possess some
special merit; it was the strict fulfilment [fulfillment sic] of
the Law.  We have seen that Rashi's life was pure; and his life
and more particularly his work reveal a firm, controlled nature,
a simple, frank character, clear judgment, upright intentions,
penetrating intelligence, and profound good sense.  The Talmudic
maxim might be applied to him: "Study demands a mind as serene as
a sky without clouds." His was a questioning spirit, ever alert.
He had the special gift of viewing the outer world intelligently
and fixing his attention upon the particular object or the particular
circumstance that might throw light upon a fact or a text.
For instance, although he did not know Arabic, he remembered
certain groups of related words in the language, which had
either been called to his attention or which he had met with in
reading.  He noticed of his own accord that "Arabic words begin
with 'al'." To give another example of this discernment: he
explains a passage of the Talmud by recalling that he saw Jews
from Palestine beating time to mark the melody when they were
reading the Pentateuch.

The clearness and poise ef Rashi's intellect-qualities which he
possessed in common with other French rabbis, though in a higher
degree-stand in favorable contrast with the sickly symbolism, the
unwholesome search for mystery, which tormented the souls of
ecclesiastics, from the monk Raoul Glaber up to the great Saint
Bernard, that man, said Michelet, "diseased by the love of God."

Yet the Jews of Northern France were not, as one might suppose
from their literature, cold and dry of temperament.  They were
sensitive and tender-hearted.  They did not forever lead the
austere life of scholarly seclusion; they did not ignore the
affections nor the cares of family; they knew how to look upon
life and its daily come and go.

But they did not go to the other extreme and become philosophers.
Traditional religion was to them the entire truth.  They never
dreamed that antagonism might arise between faith and reason.
From a theological point of view-if the modern term may be
employed-Rashi shared the ideas of his time.  In knowledge or
character one may raise oneself above one's contemporaries; but
it is rare not to share their beliefs and superstitions.  Now, it
must be admitted, the Jews of Northern France did not cherish
religion in all its ideal purity.  The effect of their faith,
their piety, upon these simple souls was to make them somewhat
childish, and give their practices a somewhat superstitious
tinge.  Thus, Rashi says in the name of his teacher Jacob ben
Yakar, that one should smell spices Saturday evening, because
hell, after having its work interrupted by the Sabbath, begins to
exhale a bad odor again in the evening.  This naive faith at
least preserved Rashi from pursuing the paths not always avoided
by his co-religionists of Spain and the Provence, who dabbled in
philosophy.  Rashi never was conscious of the need to justify
certain narratives or certain beliefs which shocked some readers
of the Bible.  Not until he came upon a passage in the Talmud
which awakened his doubts did he feel called upon to explain why
God created humanity, though He knew it would become corrupt, and
why He asks for information concerning things which cannot escape
His omniscience.  But Rashi was not bewildered by certain
anthropomorphic passages in the Bible, the meaning of which so
early a work as the Targum had veiled.  Nor was he shocked by the
fact that God let other peoples adore the stars, and that altars
had been consecrated to Him elsewhere than at Jerusalem.  Thus his
plain common sense kept him from wandering along by-paths and
losing himself in the subtleties in which the Ibn Ezras and the
Nahmanides were entangled.  His common sense rendered him the
same service in the interpretation of many a Talmudic passage
that Saadia and Nissim had thought incapable of explanation
unless wrested from its literal meaning.  Since justice requires
the admission, I shall presently dwell upon the points in which
Rashi's lack of philosophic training was injurious to him.  Here
it is necessary merely to note wherein it was useful to him.  It
was not he, for instance, who held Abraham and Moses to have been
the precursors-no, the disciples-of Aristotle.  Ought we to
complain of that?

In discussing the fundamental goodness of Rashi's nature, no
reserves nor qualifications need be made.  Historians have vied
with one another in praising his humanity, his kindliness, his
indulgent, charitable spirit, his sweetness, and his benevolence.
He appealed to the spirit of concord, and exhorted the
communities to live in peace with one another.  His goodness
appears in the following Responsum to a question, which the
interrogator did not sign: "I recognized the author of the
letter by the writing.  He feared to sign his name, because he
suspects me of being hostile to him.  But I assure him I am not;
I have quite the contrary feeling for him." A still quainter
characteristic is illustrated by the following decision which he
rendered: "If, during the prayer after a meal, one interrupts
oneself to feed an animal, one does not commit a reprehensible
act, for one should feed one's beasts before taking nourishment,
as it is written: 'And I will send grass in thy fields for thy
cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.'" But the quality Rashi
possessed in the highest degree was simplicity, modesty, one may
almost say, humility; and what contributed not a little to the
even tenor of his existence was his capacity for self-effacement.

Such was his nature even when a youth in the academies of
Lorraine.  He himself tells how once, when he was in the house of
his teacher, he noticed that a ritual prescription was being
violated in dressing the meat of a sheep.  His teacher, occupied
with other matters, did not notice the infringement of the law,
and the pupil was in a quandary.  To keep quiet was to cover up
the wrong and make it irreparable; to speak and pronounce a
decision before his master was to be lacking in respect for him.
So, to escape from the embarrassing situation, Rashi put a
question to his master bearing upon the dressing of the meat.

Toward all his teachers Rashi professed the greatest respect.  On
a certain question they held wrong opinions, and Rashi wrote: "I
am sure they did not cause irremediable harm, but they will do
well in the future to abstain from such action." This shows at
the same time that Rashi did not hesitate to be independent, did
not blindly accept all their teachings.  When he believed an
opinion wrong, he combated it; when he believed an opinion right,
he upheld it, even against his masters.  On one occasion, Isaac
ha-Levi delivered a sentence which to his pupil seemed too
strict.  "I plied him with questions," says Rashi, "to which he
would not pay attention, although he could not give any proof in
support of his opinion." To the pupils of Isaac, he wrote: "I do
not pretend to abolish the usages that you follow, but as soon
as I can be with you, I shall ask you to come over to my opinion.
I do not wish to discuss the stricter practices adopted in the
school of Jacob ben Yakar (Isaac's predecessor), until I shall
have established that my idea is the correct one.  He will then
acknowledge that I am right, as he did once before."

This is the circumstance referred to.  While still a pupil of
Isaac ha-Levi, Rashi had accepted a decision of his without
having thoroughly studied it.  Later he became convinced that his
teacher was mistaken, but he bore it in mind until he went to
Worms and persuaded his teacher to his own belief.

Rashi displayed the same reserve in the exercise of his
rabbinical functions, especially when the community appealing to
him was not that of Troyes.  That of Chalons-sur-Saone once
consulted him concerning an interdiction imposed by R. Gershom,
and asked him to repeal it; but Rashi modestly declined to give
an opinion.[29]

Rashi's modesty is also illustrated by the tone of his
correspondence.  Deferential or indulgent, he never adopted a
superior manner, was never positive or dogmatic.  When his
correspondents were wrong, he sought to justify their mistakes;
when he combated the explanation of another, he never used a
cutting expression, or a spiteful allusion, as Ibn Ezra did, and
so many others.

Finally, it seems, he did not hesitate to recognize his own
mistakes, even when a pupil pointed them out to him, and it is
possible to select from his commentaries a number of avowals of
error.  In his Responsa he wrote: "The same question has already
been put to me, and I gave a faulty answer.  But now I am
convinced of my mistake, and I am prepared to give a decision
better based on reason.  I am grateful to you for having drawn my
attention to the question; thanks to you, I now see the truth."
This question concerned a point in Talmudic law; but he was
willing to make a similar admission in regard to the explanation
of a Biblical verse.  "In commenting on Ezekiel I made a mistake
in the explanation of this passage, and as, at the end of the
chapter, I gave the true sense, I contradicted myself.  But in
taking up the question again with my friend Shemaiah,[30] I
hastened to correct this mistake."

An old scholar named R. Dorbal, or Durbal, addressed a question
to Rashi, and Rashi in his reply expressed his astonishment that
an old man should consult so young a man as he.  Assuredly, said
Rashi, it was because he wanted to give a proof of his
benevolence and take the occasion for congratulating Rashi on his
response, if it were correct.

It would take too long to enumerate all the passages in which
Rashi avows his ignorance, and declares he cannot give a
satisfactory explanation.

We have seen that Rashi did not hesitate to acknowledge that he
owed certain information to his friends and pupils, and that his
debates with them had sometimes led him to change his opinion.
The confession he made one day to his grandson Samuel about the
inadequacy of his Biblical Commentary[31] has become celebrated,
and justly so.  There is something touching in the way he listened
to the opinions of his grandson, and accepted them because
they appeared correct to him-the man who loved truth and science
above everything else.  Like many noble spirits, he considered
his work imperfect, and would have liked to do it all over again.
This modesty and this realization of the truth are the ruling
qualities of his nature.


The ideal Jew combines virtue with knowledge, and tradition
ascribes to Rashi universal knowledge.  In the first place he was
a polyglot.  Popular admiration of him, based upon the myth
concerning his travels and upon a superficial reading of this
works, assigned to him the old miracle of the Apostles.  The
languages he was supposed to know were Latin, Greek, Arabic, and
Persian.  He was also said to be acquainted with astronomy, and
even with the Kabbalah, of which, according to the Kabbalists, he
was an ardent adept.  After his death, they say, he appeared to
his grandson Samuel to teach him the true pronunciation of the
Ineffable Name.  Medical knowledge was also attributed to Rashi,
and a medical work ascribed to his authorship.  One scholar went
so far as to call him a calligrapher.[32] From his infancy, it
was declared, he astonished the world by his learning and by his
memory; and when, toward the end of his life, he went to Barcelona,
he awakened every one's admiration by his varied yet profound

These errors, invented, or merely repeated, but, at all events,
given credence by the Jewish chroniclers and the Christian
bibliographers, cannot hold out against the assaults of
criticism.  To give only one example of Rashi's geographical
knowledge, it will suffice to recall how he represented the
configuration of Palestine and Babylonia, or rather how he tried
to guess it from the texts.[33] His ignorance of geography is
apparent in his commentaries, which contain a rather large number
of mistakes.  In addition, Rashi was not always familiar with
natural products, or with the creations of art, or with the
customs and usages of distant countries.  Still less was a rabbi
of the eleventh century likely to have an idea of what even
Maimonides was unacquainted with, the local color and the spirit
of dead civilizations.  Rashi-to exemplify this ignoranceexplained
Biblical expressions by customs obtaining in his own day: "to
put into possession," the Hebrew of which is "to fill the hand,"
he thinks he explains by comparing it with a feudal ceremony and
discovering in it something analagous [analogous sic] to the act
of putting on gauntlets.  In general, the authors of Rashi's
time, paying little regard to historic setting, explained
ancient texts by popular legends, or by Christian or feudal
customs.  Therefore, one need not scruple to point out this
defect in Rashi's knowledge.  Like his compatriots he did not
know the profane branches of learning.  He was subject to the
same limitations as nearly the entire body of clergy of his day.
While the Arabs so eagerly and successfully cultivated
philosophy, medicine, astronomy, and physics, Christian Europe
was practically ignorant of these sciences.  Finally, one will
judge still less severely of Rashi's knowledge-or lack of
knowledge-if one remembers what science was in the Christian
world of the middle ages-it was childish, tinged with
superstition, extravagantly absurd, and fantastically naive.
Rashi believed that the Nile flooded its banks once every forty
years; but Joinville, who lived two centuries later, and who was
in Egypt, tells even more astonishing things than this about the
marvellous [marvelous sic] river, which has its source in the
terrestrial Paradise.

Besides French, the only profane language Rashi knew was German.
The explanations he gives according to the Greek, the Arabic, and
the Persian, he obtains from secondary sources.  Indeed, they are
sometimes faulty, and they reveal the ignorance of the man who
reproduced without comprehending them.  No great interest
attaches to the mention of his chronological mistakes and his
confusion of historical facts.  His astronomic knowledge is very
slight, and resolves itself into what he borrowed from the
Italian Sabbatai Donnolo, of Oria (about 950).

But limited as his knowledge was to Biblical, Talmudic, and
Rabbinical literature, it was for that reason all the greater in
the province he had explored in its inmost recesses.  This is
shown by his numerous citations, the sureness of his touch, and
his mastery of all the subjects of which he treats.

Thanks to the citations, we can definitely ascertain what we
might call his library.

Needless to say, the first place was held by the Bible, which, as
will be seen, he knew perfectly.  He wrote commentaries upon the
Bible almost in its entirety, besides frequently referring to it
in his Talmudic commentaries.  His favorite guide for the
explanation of the Pentateuch is the Aramaic version by Onkelos.
For the Prophets he used the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel.[34]
He was entirely ignorant of the Apocryphal books.  The Wisdom of
Ben Sira, for instance, like the Megillat Taanit, or Roll
of Fasts,[35] were known to him only through the citations of the

On the other hand Rashi was thoroughly conversant with the whole
field of Talmudic literature-first of all the treatises on
religious jurisprudence, the Mishnah,[36]
Tosefta,[37] the Babylonian and, in part, the Palestinian
Gemara;[36] then, the Halakic Midrashim, such as the
Mekilta, the Sifra, the Sifre,[38] and
Haggadic compilations, such as the Rabbot,[39] the Midrash
on the Song of Songs, on Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, the Psalms,
and Samuel, the Pesikta,[40] the Tanhuma,[41] and
the Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer.[42]

According to tradition, Rashi has set the Talmudic period as the
date of composition of two works which modern criticism has
placed in the period of the Geonim.  These works are the historic
chronicle Seder Olam[43] and the gnostic or mystic treatise
on the Creation, the Sefer Yezirah; the forerunner of
the Kabbalah.  Besides these anonymous works, Rashi knew the
Responsa of the Geonim, which he frequently cites, notably those
of Sherira[44] and his son Hai,[45] the Sheeltot of R.
Aha,[46] and the Halakot Gedolot, attributed by the French
school to Yehudai Gaon.[47] In the same period must be placed two
other writers concerning whom we are not wholly enlightened,
Eleazar ha-Kalir and the author of the Jewish chronicle entitled
Yosippon.  Eleazar, who lived in the eighth or ninth
century, was one of the first liturgical poets both as to time
and as to merit.  The author of the Yosippon undoubtedly
lived in Italy in the tenth century.  Rashi, like all his
contemporaries, confounded the two respectively with the Tanna R.
Eleazar and the celebrated Josephus.  They were considered
authorities by all the rabbis of the middle ages, the first for
his language and his Midrashic traditions, the second for his
historical knowledge.[48]

So far as the literature contemporary, or nearly contemporary,
with Rashi is concerned, it must be stated that Rashi had read
all the works written in Hebrew, while the whole of Arabic
literature was inaccessible to him.  Without doubt he knew the
grammarian Judah Ibn Koreish[49] only by the citations from him.
On the other hand he made much use of the works of the two
Spanish grammarians, Menahem ben Saruk and Dunash ben
Labrat,[50] likewise the works of Moses haDarshan, of Narbonne.
Naturally, he was still better versed in all the rabbinical
literature of Northern France and of Germany.  He frequently cites
R. Gershom, whom he once called "Father and Light of the
Captivity," as well as his contemporaries Joseph Tob Elem,
Eliezer the Great, and Meshullam ben Kalonymos, of Mayence.  I
have already mentioned-and will repeat further on how much he
owed his teachers.

For the sake of completeness, it is necessary to add to this list
all the contemporaries from whom Rashi learned either directly or
indirectly.  For information concerning the Talmud, Isaac ben
Menahem the Great, of Orleans, may be mentioned among these; and
for information concerning the Bible, Menahem ben Helbo, whom
Rashi probably cited through the medium of one of his pupils or
his writings, for he himself was not known to Rashi, his younger

If one also takes into consideration the less important and the
anonymous persons whose books or oral teachings Rashi cited, one
will be convinced that he had what is called a well-stocked
brain, and that his knowledge in his special domain was as vast
as it was profound, since it embraced the entire field of
knowledge which the Jews of Northern France of that time could
possibly cultivate.  His learning was not universal; far from it;
but he was master of all the knowledge his countrymen possessed.

Thanks to this erudition, he could fill, at least in part, the
gaps in his scientific education.  In fact, an understanding of
Talmudic law presupposes a certain amount of information-geometry
and botany for questions concerning land, astronomy for the
fixation of the calendar, zoology for dietary laws, and so on.
Rashi's knowledge, then, was less frequently defective than one
is led to suppose, although sometimes he lagged behind the Talmud
itself.  It has been noted that of 127 or 128 French glosses
bearing upon the names of plants, 62 are absolutely correct.  In
history Rashi preserved some traditions which we can no longer
verify, but which seem to be derived from sources worthy of
confidence; and if it had not been for Rashi, we would not have
become acquainted with them.

What he knew, therefore, he knew chiefly through reading and
through the instruction of his teachers, to whom he often
appealed; for he possessed that most precious quality in a
scholar, conscience, scientific probity.  One example will
suffice to give an idea of his method.  Once, when he was
searching for a text in his copy of the Talmud, he found it
corrected.  But he did not remember if he himself or his teacher
had made the correction.  So he consulted a manuscript in which
he had noted down the variants of his teacher Isaac of Mayence.
Not being able to determine from this, he begged his
correspondent to look up the manuscript of Isaac and to let him
know the reading.

This characteristic leads us back to a consideration of Rashi's
nature, upon which one likes to dwell, because it makes him a
sage in the most beautiful and the largest meaning of the word,
because it makes him one of the most sympathetic personalities in
all Jewish history.  If Rashi had left nothing but the remembrance
of an exemplary life and of spotless virtue, his name would have
merited immortality.

But Rashi bequeathed more than this to posterity; he left one,
nay, two monuments to awaken admiration and call forth gratitude.
They assure him fame based on a solid foundation.  What matter if
we Jews fail to honor our great men with statues of marble and
bronze, if they themselves establish their glory on pedestals
that defy the ravages of time? Statues raised by the hand of man
are perishable as man himself; the works constructed by a genius
are immortal as the genius himself.

                             BOOK II

                        THE WORK OF RASHI

                            CHAPTER V


Rashi stands before us a teacher distinguished and original, a
religious leader full of tact and delicate feeling, a scholar
clear-headed and at the same time loving-hearted.  In which
capacity, as teacher, religious leader, scholar, does he evoke
our deepest admiration?  Shall we accord it to the one who made a
home for Talmudic studies on the banks of the Seine, and so gave
a definite impetus to French Jewish civilization?  Or shall we
accord it to the one who for nearly forty years presided over the
spiritual destinies of an active and studious population and
fulfilled the duties of a rabbi; with all the more devotion,
without doubt, because he did not have the title of rabbi?  Or
should we not rather pay our highest tribute to Rashi the man, so
upright and modest, so simple and amiable, who has won for
himself the veneration of posterity as much by the qualities of
his heart as by those of his intellect, as much by his goodness
and kindliness as by the subtlety and acumen of his mind, in a
word, as much by his character as by his knowledge? Nevertheless
his knowledge was extraordinary and productive of great works,
which we shall consider in the following chapters.

As spiritual chief of the French Jews, it was natural that Rashi
should occupy himself with the source of their intellectual and
religious activity, with the Bible.  But in his capacity of
Talmudist and teacher, it was equally natural that he should
devote himself to the explanation of the Talmud, which formed the
basis of instruction in the schools, besides serving to regulate
the acts of everyday life and the practices of religion.  And as
a rabbinical authority he was called upon to resolve the problems
that arose out of individual difficulties or out of communal
questions.  We need no other guide than this to lead us to an
understanding of his works.  But not to omit anything essential,
it would be well to mention some collections which were the
result of his instruction, and some liturgical poems attributed
to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Rashi owes his great reputation to his commentaries on the two
great works that comprehend Jewish life in its entirety, and lie
at the very root of the intellectual development of Judaism, the
Bible and the Talmud.  His commentaries involving an enormous
amount of labor are all but complete; they fail to cover only a
few books of the Bible and a few treatises of the Talmud.  The
conjecture has been made that at first he set himself to
commenting on the Talmud, and then on the Bible, because at the
end of his life he expressed the wish that he might begin the
Biblical commentary all over again.  But this hypothesis is not
justified.  The unfinished state of both commentaries, especially
the one on the Talmud, shows that he worked on them at the same
time.  But they were not written without interruption, not "in one
spurt," as the college athlete might say.  Rashi worked at them
intermittently, going back to them again and again.  It is certain
that so far as the Talmudic treatises are concerned, he did not
exert himself to follow the order in which they occur.  He may
have taken them up when he explained them in his school.  But in
commenting on the Bible, it seems, he adhered to the sequence of
the books, for it was on the later books that he did not have the
time to write commentaries.  Moreover, he sometimes went back to
his commentary on a Biblical book or a Talmudic treatise, not
because he worked to order, like Ibn Ezra, and as circumstances
dictated, but because he was not satisfied with his former
attempt, and because, in the course of his study, the same
subject came up for his consideration.  Though the commentaries,
then, were not the result of long, steady application, they
demanded long-continued efforts, and they were, one may say, the
business of his whole life.  The rabbi Isaac of Vienna, who
possessed an autograph commentary of Rashi, speaks of the
numerous erasures and various marks with which it was

The commentaries of Rashi, which do not bear special titles, are
not an uninterrupted exposition of the entire work under
consideration, and could not be read from cover to cover without
recourse to the text explained; they are rather detached glosses,
postils, to borrow an expression from ecclesiastical literature,
upon terms or phrases presenting some difficulties.  They are
always preceded by the word or words to be explained.

It is evident, then, that Rashi's works do not bear witness to
great originality, or, better, to great creative force.  Rashi
lacks elevation in his point of view, breadth of outlook, and
largeness of conception.  He possessed neither literary taste nor
esthetic sense.  He was satisfied to throw light upon an
obscurity, to fill up a lacuna, to justify an apparent
imperfection, to explain a peculiarity of style, or to reconcile
contradictions.  He never tried to call attention to the beauties
of the text or to give a higher idea of the original; he never
succeeded in bringing into relief the humanity of a law, or the
universal bearing of an event.

Rashi failed also to regard a thing in its entirety.  He did not
write prefaces to his works setting forth the contents of the
book and the method to be pursued.[51]  In the body of the
commentaries, he hardly ever dwells on a subject at length, but
contents himself with a brief explanation.  In short, his horizon
was limited and he lacked perspective.  It is to be regretted that
he did not know the philosophic works of Saadia, who would have
opened up new worlds to him, and would have enlarged the circle
of his ideas.  If he had read only the Biblical commentaries of
the great Gaon, he would have learned from him how to grasp a
text in its entirety and give a general idea of a work.

Even if he had limited himself to the Talmud, Rashi, without
doubt, would have been incapable of raising a vast and harmonious
edifice, like the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.  He did not
possess the art of developing the various sides of a subject so
as to produce a well-ordered whole.  He lacked not only literary
ambition, but also that genius for organizing and systematizing
which classifies and co-ordinates all the laws.  Though
methodical, he lacked the power to generalize.

This defect, common to his contemporaries, arose, possibly, from
a certain timidity.  He believed that he ought to efface himself
behind his text, and not let his own idea take the place of the
author's, especially when the text was a religious law and the
author the Divine legislator.  But it seems that his power of
creative thought was not strong, and could exercise itself only
upon the more original works of others.  We find analogous
features in scholastic literature, which developed wholly in the
shadow of the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, and

This narrow criticism, this eye for detail, this lack of general
ideas and of guiding principles at least guarded Rashi against a
danger more original spirits failed to escape, namely, of reading
preconceived notions into the text, of interpreting it by an
individual method, and, thus, of gathering more meaning, or
another meaning, than was intended by the author.  Unlike the
Jewish and Christian theologians, Rashi felt no need to do
violence to the text in order to reconcile it with his scientific
and philosophic beliefs.

Though Rashi, as I said, had not a creative intellect, he yet had
all the qualities of a commentator.  First of all, he possessed
clearness, the chief requisite for a commentary, which undertakes
to explain a work unintelligible to its readers.  "To write like
Rashi" has become a proverbial expression for "to write clearly
and intelligibly." Rashi always or nearly always uses the
expression one expects.  He finds the explanation that obtrudes
itself because it is simple and easy; he excels in unravelling
[unraveling sic] difficulties and illuminating obscurities.  To
facilitate comprehension by the reader Rashi resorted to the use
of pictures and diagrams, some of which still appear in his
Talmudic commentary, though a number have been suppressed by the
editors.  Once, when asked for the explanation of a difficult
passage in Ezekiel, he replied that he had nothing to add to what
he had said in his commentary, but he would send a diagram which
would render the text more intelligible.  It is remarkable with
what ease, even without the aid of illustrations, he unravelled
[unraveled sic] the chapters of Ezekiel in which the Prophet
describes the Temple of his fancy; or the equally complicated
chapters of Exodus which set forth the plan of the Tabernacle.

Essentially this power of exposition is the attribute of
intelligent insight.  Rashi's was the clearest, the most
transparent mind-no clouds nor shadows, no ambiguities, no
evasions.  He leaves nothing to be taken for granted, he makes no
mental reservations.  He is clearness and transparency itself.

But Rashi's language is not merely clear; it is extremely
precise.  It says with accuracy exactly what it sets out to say.
Rashi did not hesitate sometimes to coin new words for the sake
of conveying his thought.  He always heeded the connotation of a
word, and took the context into account.  Once, in citing a
Talmudic explanation of a verse in Jeremiah, he rejected it,
because it did not square with the development of the thought;
and often he would not accept an interpretation, because a word
in the text was given a meaning which it did not have in any
other passage.  He grasped, and rendered in turn with perfect
accuracy, shades of meaning and subtleties of language; and the
fine expression of relations difficult to solve surprises and
charms the reader by its precision.

Commentators in the effort to be clear are often wordy, and those
who aim at brevity often lack perspicuity.  The latter applies to
Abraham Ibn Ezra, who might have said with the poet, "I avoid
long-windedness, and I become obscure."  Samuel ben Meir, on the
other hand, grandson and pupil of Rashi, is, at least in his
Talmudic commentaries, so long-winded and prolix that at first
glance one can detect the additions made by him to the
commentaries of his grandfather.  It is related, that once, when
Rashi was ill, Samuel finished the commentary Rashi had begun,
and when Rashi got well he weighed the leaves on which his pupil
had written and said: "If thou hadst commented on the whole
Talmud after this fashion, thy commentary would have been as
heavy as a chariot." The story, which attributes somewhat
uncharitable words to Rashi, yet contains an element of truth,
and emphasizes the eminent quality of his own commentaries.

He rarely goes into very long explanations.  Often he solves a
difficulty by one word, by shooting one flash of light into the
darkness.  The scholar and bibliographer Azulai scarcely
exaggerated when he said that Rashi could express in one letter
that for which others needed whole pages.  A close study of the
Talmudic commentaries shows that he replied in advance and very
briefly to the questions of many a Talmudist.

It is only in considering the difficult passages that he goes to
greater length to note and discuss explanation previously
propounded.  Take for example what he says on the words 'al
mut Laben', the superscription of Psalm ix, which are a
crux interpretum. At the same time the reader will observe
how ancient are certain interpretations of modern exegetes.
Rashi begins by refuting those who allege that David wrote this
Psalm on the death of his son Absalom; for in that case
Haben and not Laben<\H> would have been necessary, and
nothing in the text bears out this explanation.  Others
transposed the letters of Laben to read Nabal, but
there is no reference to Nabal in this Psalm.  Others again, like
the Great Massorah, make a single word of almut<\H>.  Menahem
and Dunash,[52] each proposes an explanation which seems to be
incorrect.  The Pesikta, in view of verse 6, thinks the
Psalm refers to Amalek and Esau; and this, too, is not
satisfying.  Finally, Rashi gives his own explanation, scarcely
better than the others,- that the Psalm deals with the
rejuvenation and purity of Israel when it will have been redeemed
from the Roman captivity.

When difficult questions are propounded by the Talmud, or arise
out of a consideration of the Talmud, Rashi cites previous
explanations or parallel texts.  But this is exceptional.  As a
rule he finds with marvellous [marvelous sic] nicety and without
circumlocution the exact word, the fitting expression, the necessary
turn.  One or two words suffice for him to sum up an observation,
to anticipate a question, to forestall an unexpressed
objection, to refute a false interpretation, or to throw light
upon the true meaning of word or phrase.  This is expressed in the
saying, "In Rashi's time a drop of ink was worth a piece of
gold." It was not without justification - though, perhaps, the
practice was carried to excess - that for centuries commentaries
were written upon these suggestive words of his under the title
Dikduke Rashi, the "Niceties of Rashi." Even at the
present day his commentaries are minutely studied for the purpose
of finding a meaning for each word.  In fact, because of this
concise, lapidary style, his commentaries called into existence
other commentaries, which set out to interpret his ideas, - and
frequently found ideas that did not belong there.  Though the
authors of these super - commentaries were Rashi's admirers, they
were scarcely his imitators.

In this regard it is of interest to compare the commentary of
Rashi upon the beginning of the treatise Baba Batra with
that of Samuel ben Meir upon the end of the treatise, which Rashi
did not succeed in reaching.  An even more striking comparison may
be made with the commentary of Nissim Gerundi upon the abridgment
of the Talmud by Alfasi, which is printed opposite to that of
Rashi.[53]  Rashi's style is unmistakable, and prolixness in a
commentary attributed to him is proof against the alleged paternity.

By virtue of these qualities, possessed by Rashi in so high a
degree, he is true to the traditions of French literature, which
is distinguished for simplicity and clearness among all
literatures.  Besides, he compares with the French writers of the
middle ages in his disregard of "style."  It is true, he handles
with ease Hebrew and Aramaic, or, rather, the rabbinical idiom,
which is a mixture of the two.  But he is not a writer in the true
sense of the word.  His language is simple and somewhat careless,
and his writing lacks all traces of esthetic quality.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the Bible and the Talmud made appeal to readers of another
time and another language than those in which they were written,
Rashi's first duty was to explain them, then, if necessary,
translate them, now to add clearness to the explanation, now to
do away with it wholly.  These translations, sometimes bearing
upon entire passages, more often upon single words, were called
glosses, Hebrew laazim (better, leazim), the plural
of laaz.  They were French words transcribed into Hebrew
characters, and they formed an integral part of the text.  Rashi
had recourse to them in his teaching when the precise Hebrew
expression was lacking, or when he explained difficult terms,
especially technical terms of arts and crafts.  The use of a
French word saved him a long circumlocution.  Sometimes, the laaz
followed a definition or description, in a striking manner giving
the meaning of the word or expression.

In employing these French laazim, Rashi introduced no innovation.
His predecessors, especially his masters, had already made use of
them, perhaps in imitation of the Christian commentators, who
likewise inserted words of the vernacular in their Latin
explanations.  The Latin - speaking clergy were often forced to
employ the common speech for instructing the people; and in the
eleventh century beginnings were made in the translation of the
Old and New Testament by the rendition of important passages.
But while it perturbed the Church to see the Scriptures spread
too freely before the gaze of the layman, the rabbis never feared
that the ordinary Jew might know his Bible too well, and they
availed themselves of the laazim without scruple.  The frequent
occurrence of the laazim is one of a number of proofs that French
was the current speech of the Jews of France.  Hebrew, like Latin
among the Christian clergy, was merely the language of literature
and of the liturgy.  It is noteworthy that the treatises
containing most laazim bear upon questions affecting the common
acts of daily life - upon the observance of the Sabbath (treatise
Shabbat), upon the dietary laws, (Hullin), and upon
laws concerning the relations of Jews with non-Jews (Abodah
Zarah).  Rashi extended the use of the laazim, developing this
mode of explanation; and the commentaries of his disciples, who
continued his method, are strewn with French words, which were
then inserted in the Hebrew - French glossaries.  Several of
these glossaries are about to be published.  After Rashi's
commentaries became a classic wherever there were Jews, the
laazim were often translated into a foreign language, as into
German or Italian.  The Pseudo - Rashi on Alfasi,[54] following
the manuscripts, sometimes presents a German translation now
with, now without the French word.

Rashi's Biblical and Talmudic commentaries contain 3157 laazim,
of which 967 occur in the Biblical commentaries and 2190 in the
Talmudic, forming in the two commentaries together a vocabulary
of about two thousand different words.  In the Biblical
commentaries, concerned, as a rule, not so much with the
explanation of the meaning of a word as with its grammatical
form, the laazim reproduce the person, tense, or gender of the
Hebrew word; in the Talmudic commentaries, where the difficulty
resides in the very sense of the word, the laazim give a
translation without regard to grammatical form.

At the present time these laazim are of interest to us, not only
as the expression of Rashi's ideas, but also as vehicles of
information concerning the old French.  As early an investigator
as Zunz remarked that if one could restore them to their original
form, they would serve as a lexicon of the French language at the
time of the Crusades.  But even Zunz did not realize the full
value to be extracted from them.  The rare specimens that we
possess of the langue d'oil[55] of the eleventh century
belong to the Norman dialect and to the language of poetry.
Written, as they were, in Champagne, the laazim of Rashi
represent almost the pure French (the language spoken in
Champagne lay between the dialect of the Ile-de-France and that
of Lorraine [56]), and, what is more, they were words in common
use among the people, for they generally designated objects of
daily use.  These laazim, then, constitute a document of the
highest importance for the reconstruction of old French, as much
from a phonetic and morphologic point of view, as from the point
of view of lexicography; for the Hebrew transcription fixes to a
nicety the pronunciation of the word because of the richness of
the Hebrew in vowels and because of the strict observance of the
rules of transcription.  Moreover, in the matter of lexicography
the laazim offer useful material for the history of certain
words, and bring to our knowledge popular words not to be found
in literary and official texts.  In the case of many of these
terms, their appearance in Rashi is the earliest known; otherwise
they occur only at a later date.  And it is not difficult to put
the laazim back into French, because of the well-defined system
of transcription employed.  Even the laws of declension (or what
remained of declension in the old French) are observed.

Unfortunately, the great use made of Rashi's commentaries
necessitated a large number of copies, and frequent copying
produced many mistakes.  Naturally, it was the laazim that
suffered most from the ignorance and carelessness of the copyists
and printers, especially in the countries in which French was not
the current language.  Efforts have been made within the last two
centuries to restore the laazim.  Mendelssohn and his associates
applied themselves to the commentary on the Pentateuch, Lowe, to
the Psalms, Neumann, to the Minor Prophets, Jeitteles and Laudau,
to the whole of the Bible, and the Bondi brothers, Dormitzer,
and, above all, Landau, to the Talmudic commentaries.  But these
authors, not having consulted the manuscripts and knowing the
French language of the middle ages only imperfectly, arrived at
insufficient results.  Even the identifications of Berliner in
his critical edition of the commentary on the Pentateuch are not
always exact and are rarely scientific.

Arsene Darmesteter (1846-1888), one of the elect of French
Judaism and a remarkable scholar in the philology of the Romance
languages, realized that in the commentaries of Rashi "the
science of philology possesses important material upon which to
draw for the history of the language in an early stage of its
developinent." With the aim of utilizing this material, he
visited the libraries of England and Italy, and gathered much
that was important; but his numerous occupations and his
premature death prevented him from finishing and publishing his
work.  In the interests of French philology as well as for a
complete understanding of the text of Rashi, it would be
advantageous to publish the notes that he collected.  In fact,
such a work will appear, but unfortunately not in the proportions
Darmesteter would have given it.  Nevertheless, it will be found
to contain information and unique information, upon the history,
the phonetics, and the orthography of medieval French; for the
first literary works, which go as far back as the eleventh
century, the life of Saint Alexius and the epic of Roland, have
not come down to us in the form in which they were written.  "What
would the trouveres of Roland and the clerics of Saint Alexius
have said if they had been told that one day the speech of their
warrior songs and their pious homilies would need the aid of the
Ghetto to reach the full light of day, and the living sound of
their words would fall upon the ears of posterity through the
accursed jargon of an outlawed race?"[57]

In this chapter I have made some general observations upon the
composition and the method of the Biblical and Talmudic
Commentaries of Rashi.  Concerning their common characteristics
there is little to add, except to remark that the explanations
are generally simple, natural, and unforced.  This is especially
true of the Talmudic commentaries.  Rashi in large part owes the
foundations upon which his works are built to his predecessors,
and no higher praise could be accorded him than to say that he
knew the great mass of traditions and the explanations made
before him.

However, Rashi rather frequently gave his own personal
explanation, either because he did not know another, or because
those propounded before him did not seem adequate or satisfying.
In the latter case, he usually put down the rejected explanation
before setting forth his own.  Yet there are cases in which
intelligence and imagination fail to supply knowledge of some
special circumstance; and such lack of knowledge led Rashi into
many errors.  On the whole, however, the commentaries contain
invaluable information, and are of the very highest importance
for Jewish history and literature, because of the citations in
them of certain lost works, or because of hints of certain facts
which otherwise would be unknown.  Modern historians justly
recognize in Rashi one of the most authoritative representatives
of rabbinical tradition, and it is rare for them to consult him
without profit to themselves.

                           CHAPTER VI


"Thanks to Rashi the Torah has been renewed.  The word of the Lord
in his mouth was truth.  His way was perfect and always the same.
By his commentary he exalted the Torah and fortified it.  All wise
men and all scholars recognize him as master, and acknowledge
that there is no commentary comparable with his."  This
enthusiastic verdict of Eliezer ben Nathan[58] has been ratified
by the following generations, which, by a clever play upon words,
accorded him the title of Parshandata, Interpreter of the
Law.[59]  And, verily, during his life Rashi had been an
interpreter of the Law, when he explained the Scriptures to his
disciples and to his other co-religionists; and he prolonged this
beneficent activity in his commentaries, in which one seems to
feel his passionate love of the law of God and his lively desire
to render the understanding of it easy to his people.  Yet it is
true that all scholars did not share in the general admiration of
Rashi, and discordant notes may be heard in the symphony of

Of what avail these eulogies and what signify these reservations?

If one reflects that the Bible is at the same time the most
important and the most obscure of the books that antiquity has
bequeathed to us, it seems natural that it should soon have been
translated and commented upon.  The official Aramaic translation,
or Targum, of the Pentateuch is attributed to Onkelos and that of
the Prophets[60] to Jonathan ben Uzziel.  Rashi constantly draws
inspiration from both these works, and possibly also from the
Targumim to the Hagiographa, which are much more recent than the
other two Targumim.  Sometimes he simply refers to them,
sometimes he reproduces them, less frequently he remarks that
they do not agree with the text.

For the establishment of the text Rashi scrupulously follows the
Massorah, the "Scriptural Statistics," the work of scholars who
lived in the period between the seventh and the tenth century,
and who assured the integrity of the Bible by counting the number
of verses in each book and the number of times each word, phrase,
or expression recurs.  The Massorah soon came to have great
authority; and many scholars, such as R. Gershom, for example,
copied it with their own hands in order to have a correct and
carefully made text of the Bible.  The Massorah was Rashi's
constant guide.  From a calculation made, of the number of times
he transgressed its rules, the infractions do not appear to be
numerous, and sometimes they seem to have been involuntary.  As a
consequence, variants from the text of the Bible are extremely
rare in Rashi, and the copyists eliminated them entirely.  In
general at his time the text was definitely established to the
minutest details, and variants, if there were any, were due to
blunders of the copyists.  Rashi, who probably carefully compared
manuscripts, once remarked upon such faulty readings.

It is to the Massoretes that some attribute the accents which
serve to mark at once the punctuation and the accentuation of the
Biblical text.  Rashi naturally conformed to this system of
accentuation, and if he departed from it, it seems he frequently
did so inadvertently.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the two great sources upon which Rashi drew for his exegesis
were the Talmudic and the Midrashic literature, with their two
methods of interpreting the Scriptures.  As a knowledge of these
two methods is indispensable to an understanding of Rashi's
exegesis, I will give some pages from the work of a recent French
exegete, L. Wogue, who presents an excellent characterization of
them in his Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique:

   Whatever diversities may exist in the point of view adopted by
   the investigators of the Bible, in the aims they pursued, and
   in the methods they employed, the methods are necessarily to
   be summed up in the two terms, peshat and
   derash.  This is a fact which scarcely requires
   demonstration.  There are only two ways of understanding or
   explaining any text whatsoever, either according to the
   natural acceptation of its meaning, or contrary to this
   acceptation.  At first glance it seems as though the former
   were the only reasonable and legitimate method, and as though
   the second lacked either sincerity or common sense, and had no
   right to the title of method.  Yet we shall see how it came
   about, and how it was bound to come about, that the Derash not
   only arose in the Synagogue, but assumed preponderating
   importance there.

From very ancient times the Pentateuch and certain chapters of
the Prophets were read or translated in the synagogue every
Saturday.  Accordingly, the interpretation of the Law could not
be slavishly literal.

   Destined for the edification of the ignorant masses inclined
   to superstition, it perforce permitted itself some freedom in
   order to avoid annoying misconceptions.  Sometimes the literal
   rendition might suggest gross errors concerning the Divine
   Being, sometimes it might appear to be in conflict with
   practices consecrated by the oral law or by an old tradition,
   and sometimes, finally, it might in itself be grotesque and
   unintelligible.  Hence a double tendency in exegesis, each
   tendency asserting itself in the synagogue at different epochs
   and with varying force....  Two sorts of Midrash are to be
   distinguished; if the question concerns jurisprudence or
   religious practice, it is called Midrash Halakah, Halakic or
   legal exegesis; if the subject bears upon dogmas, promises,
   the consolations of religion, moral truths, or the acts of
   daily life, the Midrash is called Midrash Haggadah, the
   Haggadic or ethical exegesis.  The first is intended to
   regulate the form and the external exercise of religion; the
   second, to sanctify and perfect man's inward being.  Each
   brings to the examination of the text a preconceived notion, as
   it were; and it reconciles text and preconceived notion
   sometimes by traditional, sometimes by arbitrary, methods,
   often more ingenious than rational.  The Peshat, on the
   contrary, subordinates its own ideas to the text, wishes to
   see in the text only what is actually there, and examines it
   without bias....

   The pious instructors of the people felt the need of utilizing
   and applying to daily life as much as possible these Holy
   Scriptures, the one treasure that had escaped so many
   shipwrecks.  That a word should have but one meaning, that a
   phrase should have but one subject, this seemed mean, shabby,
   inadequate, unworthy the Supreme Wisdom that inspired the
   Bible.  The word of God was perforce more prolific.  Each new
   interpretation of the Biblical text added richness and new
   value to the precious heritage....  Another very important
   circumstance, if it did not originate the Midrashic method, at
   all events tended strongly to bring it into vogue.  I speak of
   the religious life, such as it was among the Israelites,
   especially in the time of the second Temple.  A number of
   practices, more or less sacred and more or less obligatory,
   were established in, or after this period, either by
   rabbinical institution, or by virtue of the oral law or of
   custom; and these practices, sanctioned by long usage or by
   highly esteemed authorities, had no apparent basis in the
   written law.  To maintain them and give them solidity in the
   regard of the people, it was natural to seek to prove by
   exegesis ad hoc that the Holy Text had imposed or
   recommended them in advance, if not expressly, at least by
   hints and allusions....  The application of this method was
   called forth not only by the religious practices, but also by
   the ideas and opinions that had been formed or developed in
   the same period.  After the Babylonian Exile the successive
   influence of the Chaldeans, the Persians, and the Greeks
   produced among the Jews of Asia as well as among the Jews of
   Egypt certain theories concerning cosmogony, angels, and the
   government of the world, which rapidly gained credence, and
   were generally held to be incontestable.  These theories
   provided a complete apparatus of doctrines so attractive and
   so enthusiastically accepted even by our teachers, that the
   people could not resign themselves to the belief that they
   were not contained in the Bible, or, worse still, that they
   were contradicted by this store-house of wisdom and truth.  But
   these doctrines - for the most part, at least - are not to be
   found in the literal text of the Bible, and, as a consequence,
   the scholars turned to the Midrashic method as the only one
   calculated to read the desired meaning into the text.

Now the general character of Judaism had not changed perceptibly
during ten centuries.  In the eleventh century the Jews had the
same needs as in the first, and the same method of satisfying
their needs.  They found it quite natural to bring their ideas
into agreement with the Bible - or, rather, they did so
unconsciously - and to twist the text from its natural meaning,
so as to ascribe to the Biblical authors their own ideas and

Yet, however great the favor attaching to this method, the Peshat
was never entirely deprived of its rights.  It was even destined
to soar high into prominence.  The appearance of the Karaites
(eighth century), who rejected the Talmud and held exclusively to
the Scriptures, brought into existence, either directly or
indirectly, a rational, independent method of exegesis, though
the influence of this sect upon the development of Biblical
studies has been grossly magnified.  It was the celebrated Saadia
(892-942) who by his translation of, and commentary upon, the
Bible opened up a new period in the history of exegesis, during
which the natural method was applied to the interpretation of
Biblical texts.  The productions of this period deserve a
commanding position in Jewish literature, as much for their
intrinsic value as for their number.

While, however, in the countries of Arabic culture, natural
exegesis made its way triumphantly, in the countries of Christian
Europe, it freed itself from the traditional Midrash only with
difficulty.  Moreover, Derash - to carry a Jewish term into an
alien field - was the method always employed by the Christian
theologians.  Throughout the medieval ages they adhered chiefly to
a spiritual, allegoric, moral, and mystic interpretation.  In the
employment of this method the literary, grammatical, philologic,
and historical aspect is perforce neglected.  Nevertheless, even
among Christian scholars the rational method found some worthy
representatives, especially among the Belgian masters.[61]

The deplorable ease of the Midrashic method readily accounts for
its vogue.  The Haggadist is not compelled to hold fast to his
text, his imagination has free play, and is untrammelled
[untrameled sic] by the leading-strings of grammar and good
sense.  The task of the exegete properly so called is quite
different.  He may not find in the text anything which is not
actually there.  He must take heed of the context, of the
probable, and of the rules of the language.  The exegete searches
for the idea in the text; the Haggadist introduces foreign ideas
into the text.

   "At the same time, whatever the attraction of the Midrashic
   method for the Jews of France and Germany, and however great
   the wealth of their material, neither this attraction nor this
   wealth could take the place of a pure, simple explanation of
   the genuine meaning of Scriptures, a meaning which often
   served as a basis for the Midrash, and in a vast number of
   cases would have remained obscure and incomplete.  Here there
   was a yawning gap in an essential matter, and the man who had
   the honor of filling up this gap - and with marvellous
   [marvelous sic] success, considering the insufficiency of his
   scientific resources - was one of the most eminent scholars of
   the Synagogue, the leader of Jewish science, Rashi."[62]

It would be unjust to ignore the efforts of two of Rashi's
predecessors, Moses ha-Darshan (first half of the eleventh
century) and Menahem ben Helbo, who prepared the way and rendered
the task easier for him.  The principal work of Moses ha-Darshan,
often cited by Rashi under the title of Yesod,
"Foundation," is a Haggadic and mystic commentary, giving,
however, some place to questions of grammar and of the natural
construction of the text.  As to Menahem ben Helbo, a certain
number of his explanations and fragments of his commentaries have
been preserved; but Rashi probably knew him only through the
intermediation of his nephew Joseph Kara.  Following the example
of Moses ha-Darshan and possibly, also, of Menahem ben Helbo,
Rashi used both the Peshat and the Derash in his Biblical
commentaries.  "Rashi," says Berliner, "employed an in-between
method, in which the Peshat and the Derash were easily united,
owing to the care he exercised, to choose from the one or the
other only what most directly approximated the simple meaning of
the text.  Rashi was free in his treatment of traditional legends,
now transforming, now lengthening, now abridging them or joining
several narratives in one, according to expediency."

This opinion is comprehensive; but it is necessary to emphasize
and differentiate.

As a rule, when the Midrash does no violence to the text, Rashi
adopts its interpretation; and when there are several Midrashic
interpretations, he chooses the one that accords best with the
simple sense; but he is especially apt to fall back upon the
Midrash when the passage does not offer any difficulties.  On the
contrary, if the text cannot be brought into harmony with the
Midrash, Rashi frankly declares that the Midrashic interpretation
is irreconcilable with the natural meaning or with the laws of
grammar.  He also rejects the Midrashic interpretation if it does
not conform to the context.  "A passage," he said, "should be
explained, not detached from its setting, but according to the
context."  In other cases he says, "The real meaning of the verse
is different," and again, "This verse admits of a Midrashic
interpretation, but I do not pretend to give any but the natural
meaning." Rashi was fond of repeating the following Talmudic
saying, which he elevated into a principle: "A verse cannot
escape its simple meaning, its natural acceptation." Rashi, then,
cherished a real predilection for rational and literal exegesis,
but when he could not find a satisfactory explanation according
to this method, or when tradition offered one, he resigned
himself to the Haggadic method, saying: "This verse requires an
explanation according to the Midrash, and it cannot be explained
in any other way."

A few quotations will facilitate the comprehension of this
characteristic method.

               1.  CREATION OF THE WORLD (Genesis 1.1)

   In the beginning].  R. Isaac[63] says: The Law ought to
   have begun with the rule enjoining the celebration of
   Passover, which is the first of the Mosaic precepts.  But God
   "showed his people the power of His works, that He may give
   them the heritage of the heathen."[64]  If the heathen nations
   say to Israel: You are robbers, for you have seized the land
   of the seven nations (Canaanites), the Israelites can reply:
   The entire earth belongs to God, who, having created it,
   disposes of it in favor of whomsoever it pleases Him.  It
   pleased Him to give it to the seven nations, and it pleased
   Him to take it away from them in order to give it to us.
   In the beginning, etc.  Bereshit bara].  This verse
   should be interpreted according to the Midrash, and it is in
   this way that our rabbis apply it to the Torah as having
   existed "before His works of old,"[65] or to Israel, called
   "the first-fruits of His increase."[66]  But if one wishes to
   explain these words in their natural meaning, it is necessary
   to observe the following method.  In the beginning of the
   creation of the heaven and the earth, when the earth was
   confusion and chaos, God said: "Let there be light." This
   verse does not set forth the order of the creation.  If it
   did, the word barishona (Bet Resh Alef Shin Nun He)
   would have been necessary, whereas the word reshit (Resh
   Alef Shin Yod Tav) is always in the construct, as
   in Jer. xxvii. 1, Gen. x. 10, Deut. xviii. 4;[67] likewise
   bara (Bet Resh Alef) must here be taken as an
   infinitive (Bet Resh Alef with shin dot); the same
   construction occurs in Hosea i. 2.  Shall we assert that the
   verse intends to convey that such a thing was created before
   another, but that it is elliptical (just as ellipses occur in
   Job iii. 10, Is. viii. 4, Amos vi. 12, Is. xlvi. 10)?  But
   this difficulty arises: that which existed first were the
   waters, since the following verse says, that "the Spirit of
   God moved upon the face of the waters," and since the text did
   not previously speak of the creation of the waters, the waters

Rashi's exegesis is a bit complicated, because his beliefs
prevented him from realizing that the narrative of Genesis
presupposes a primordial chaos; but his explanations are
ingenious, and do away with other difficulties.  They have been
propounded again as original explanations by modern commentators,
such as Ewald, Bunsen, Schrader, Geiger, etc.  Botticher even
proposed the reading bara (Bet Resh Alef).  I did not give
the preceding commentary in its entirety, because it is fairly
long and, in this respect, not typical.  Consequently other
quotations will serve a purpose.

              2.  THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC (Gen. xxii. 1)

    1. After these words].  Some of our teachers explain
   the expression: "after the words of Satan," who said to God Of
   all his meals Abraham sacrifices nothing to Thee, neithe a
   bull nor a ram.  He would sacrifice his son, replied God if I
   told him to do it.  Others say: "after the words of Ishmael,"
   who boasted of having undergone circumcision when he was
   thirteen years old, and to whom Isaac answered: If God
   demanded of me the sacrifice of my entire being, I would do
   what he demanded.  Abraham said: Behold, here I am].
   Such is the humility of pious men; for this expression
   indicates that one is humble, ready to obey.

   2. God said: Take now].  This is a formula of prayer;
   God seems to say to Abraham: I pray thee, submit thyself to
   this test, so that thy faith shall not be doubted.  Thy
   son].  I have two sons, replied Abraham.  Thine only
   son].  But each is the only son of his mother.  Whom
   thou lovest].  I love them both.  Isaac].  Why did not
   God name Isaac immediately? In order to trouble Abraham, and
   also to reward him for each word, etc.

All these explanations are drawn from Talmudic (Sanhedrim
89b) and Midrashic (Bereshit Rabba and Tanhuma)
sources.  The meaning of the passage being clear, Rashi has
recourse to Haggadic elaborations, which, it must be admitted,
are wholly charming.  Rashi will be seen to be more original in
his commentary on the Song of the Red Sea, the text of which
offers more difficulties.

                 3. SONG OF THE RED SEA (Ex. xv. 1)

   1. Then sang Moses].  "Then": when Moses saw the
   miracle, he had the idea of singing a song; similar
   construction in Josh. x. 12, I Kings vii. 8.  Moses said to
   himself that he would sing, and that is what he did.  Moses
   and the children of Israel "spake, saying, I will sing unto
   the Lord." The future tense is to be explained in the same way
   as in Josh. x. 12 (Joshua, seeing the miracle, conceived the
   idea of singing a song, "and he said in the sight of Israel,"
   etc.), in Num. xxi. 17 ("Then Israel sang this song, Spring
   up, O well; sing ye unto it"), and in I Kings xi. 7 (thus
   explained by the sages of Israel: "Solomon wished to build a
   high place, but he did not build it").  The "yod" (of the
   future) applies to the conception.  Such is the natural
   meaning of the verse.  But, according to the Midrashic
   interpretation, our rabbis see in it an allusion to the
   resurrection, and they explain it in the same fashion as the
   other passages, with the exception of the verse in Kings,
   which they translate: "Solomon wished to build a high place,
   but he did not build it."  But our verse cannot be explained
   like those in which the future is employed, although the
   action takes place immediately, as in Job i. 5 ("Thus did
   Job"); Num. ix. 23 ("The Israelites rested in their tents at
   the commandment of the Lord") and 20 ("when the cloud was a
   few days"), because here the action is continued and is
   expressed as well by the future as by the past.  But our song
   having been sung only at a certain moment, the explanation
   does not apply.

   Ki gaoh gaah (Kaf Yod, Gimel Alef with holam He, Gimel with
   qamats, Alef with qamats He)].  As the Targum[68] translates.
   Another explanation: "He is most exalted," above all
   praise, and however numerous our eulogies, I could add to
   them; such is not the human king whom one praises without
   reason.  The horse and his rider] - The one attached to
   the other; the waters carried them off and they descended
   together into the sea.  Ramah (Resh Mem He) (hath He
   thrown)] like hishlich (He Shin Lamed Yod Final_Kaf);
   the same as in Dan. iii. 21.  The Haggadic Midrash[69] gives
   this explanation: one verse employs the verb (Yod Resh
   He) the other the verb Ramah (Resh Mem He) which
   teaches us that the Egyptians mounted into the air in order
   then to descend into the ocean.  The same as in Job xxxviii.
   6, "who laid (yarah (Yod Resh He) ) the corner stone
   thereof" from top to bottom?

   2. Ozi vezimrat yah vayei li lishuah (Ayin Zayin Yod, Vav
   Zayin Mem Resh Tav, Yod He, Vav Yod He Yod, Lamed Yod, Lamed
   Yod Shin Vav Ayin He)].  Onkelos translates: my strength
   and my song of praise.  He therefore explains ohzi
   (Ayin with qamats Zayin with dagesh and hiriq Yod) as
   uzi (Ayin with qubuts, Zayin with dagesh and hiriq Yod)
   and vezimrat (Vav Zayin Mem Resh Tav) as vezimrati
   (Vav Zayin Mem Resh Tav Yod)  But I am astonished at the
   vowelling of the first word, which is unique in Scriptures, if
   an exception is made of the three passages in which the two
   words are joined.  In all other places it is provided with the
   vowel "u", for example in Jer. xvi. 19 and Psalms lix. 10.  In
   general, when a word of two letters contains the vowel "o", if
   it is lengthened by a third letter, and if the second letter
   has no "sheva", the first takes an "u": oz (Ayin with holam
   Zayin) makes rok, uzi (Resh with sin dot Qof, Ayin with
   qubuts Zayin with dagesh Yod makes jok, ruki (Het Qof,
   Resh with qubuts Qof with dagesh and hiriq Yod) makes
   ol, juki (Ayin with holam Lamed, Het with qubuts Qof with
   dagesh and hiriq Yod makes kol ulo (Kaf with holam
   Lamed, Ayin with qubuts Lamed with dagesh Vav)[70] makes
   kulo (Kaf with qubuts Lamed with dagesh Vav), as in
   Exodus xiv. 7. On the contrary, the three other passages,
   namely, our passage, the one in Is. (xii. 2), and that in
   Psalms (cxviii. 14), have ozi (Ayin Zayin Yod) vowelled
   with a short "o"; moreover, these verses do not have
   vezimrati (Vav Zayin Mem Resh Tav Yod) but vezimrat
   (Vav Zayin Mem Resh Tav), and all continue with vayei
   li lishuah (Vav Yod He Yod, Lamed Yod, Lamed Yod Shin Vav Ayin
   He).  And to give a full explanation of this verse, it is
   in my opinion necessary to say that ohzi (Ayin with qamats
   Zayin with dagesh Yod) is not equivalent to uzi (Ayin
   with qubuts Zayin with dagesh Yod nor vezimrat (Vav
   Zayin Mem Resh Tav) to vezimrati (Vav Zayin Mem Resh
   Tav Yod), but that ohzi (Ayin with qamats Zayin with
   dagesh Yod) is a substantive (without a possessive suffix,
   but provided with a paragogic "yod"), as in Psalm cxxiii. 1,
   Obadiah 3, Deut. xxxiii. 16. The eulogy (of the Hebrews)
   therefore signifies: it is the strength and the vengeance of
   God that have been my salvation. vezimrat (Vav Zayin Mem
   Resh Tav) is thus in the construct with the word God,
   exactly as in Judges v.23, Is. ix. 18, Eccl. iii. 18.  As for
   the word vezimrat (Vav Zayin Mem Resh Tav) it has the
   meaning which the same root has in Lev. xxv. 4 ("thou shalt
   not prune") and in Is. xxv. 5; that is to say, "to cut".  The
   meaning of our verse, then, is: "The strength and the
   vengeance of our Lord have been our salvation." One must not
   be astonished that the text uses vayehi (Vav Yod He
   Yod) (imperfect changed to past) and not haiah (He Yod
   He) (perfect): for the same construction occurs in other
   verses; for example, I Kings vi. 5, II Chron. x. 17[71], Num.
   xiv. 16 and 36, Ex. ix. 21.

   He is my God].  He appeared to them in His majesty, and
   they pointed Him out to one another with their finger.[72]
   The last of the servants saw God, on this occasion, as the
   Prophets themselves never saw Him.  veanvehu (Vav Alef Nun
   Vav He Vav)].  The Targum sees in this word the meaning of
   "habitation"[73]  as in Is. xxxiii. 20, lxv. 10.  According to
   another explanation the word signifies "to adorn," and the
   meaning would be: "I wish to celebrate the beauty and sing the
   praise of God in all His creatures," as it is developed in the
   Song of Songs; see v.9 et seq.[74]  My father's
   God].  He is; and I will exalt Him.  My father's
   God].  I am not the first who received this consecration;
   but on the contrary His holiness and His divinity have
   continued to rest upon me from the time of my ancestors.

In the above the text calls only for the embellishments of the
Haggadah.  In the following passage from Rashi's commentaries the
place allotted to Derash is more limited.

    4. CONSTRUCTION OF THE TABERNACLE (Ex. xxv. 1 et seq.)

   2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an
   offering].  To me; in my honor.  An offering (terumah
   (Tav Resh Vav Mem He)), a levy; let them make a levy upon
   their goods.  Of every man that giveth it willingly with
   his heart (idbenu (Yod Dalet Bet Nun Vav)), same
   meaning as nedava (Nun Dalet Bet He), that is to say, a
   voluntary and spontaneous gift.[75]  Ye shall take my
   offering] Our sages say: Three offerings are prescribed by
   this passage, one of a beka from each person, used for
   a pedestal, as will be shown in detail in Eleh
   Pekude[76]; the second, the contribution of the altar,
   consisting of a beka from each person, thrown into the
   coffers for the purchase of congre gational sacrifices; and,
   third, the contribution for the Tabernacle, a free-will
   offering.  The thirteen kinds of material to be mentioned were
   all necessary for the construction of the Tabernacle and for
   the making of priestly vestments, as will be evident from a
   close examination.

   3. Gold, and silver, and brass].  All these were offered
   voluntarily, each man giving what he wished, except silver, of
   which each brought the same quantity, a half-shekel a person.
   In the entire passage relating to the construction of the
   Tabernacle, we do not see that more silver was needed; this is
   shown by Ex. xxxviii. 27.  The rest of the silver,
   voluntarily offered, was used for making the sacred vessels.

   4. Tejelet (Tav Kaf Lamed Tav)].  Wool dyed in the
   blood of the halazon[77] and of a greenish color.
   viargaman (Vav Alef Resh Gimel Mem Final_Nun)]. Wool
   dyed with a sort of coloring matter bearing this name.
   Vasmesh (Vav Shin Shin)]. Linen.  izim (Ayin Zayin
   Yod Final_Mem)].  Goats' hair; this is why Onkelos
   translates it by mazi (Mem Ayin Zayin Yod), but not
   "goats," which he would have rendered by azia (Ayin Zayin
   Yod Alef).

   5. And rams' skins dyed red].  Dyed red after having
   been dressed.  techashim (Tav Het Shin Yod Final_Mem].
   A sort of animal created for the purpose and having various
   colors; that is why the Targum translates the word by
   isasgona (Yod Samekh Samekh Gimel Vav Nun Alef), "he
   rejoices in his colors and boasts of them."[78]  And
   shittim wood] - But whence did the Israelites in the
   desert obtain it? R. Tanhuma explains: The patriarch Jacob,
   thanks to a Divine revelation, had foreseen that one day his
   descendants would construct a Tabernacle in the desert.  He,
   therefore, carried shittim trees into Egypt, and planted them
   there, advising his sons to take them along with them when
   they left the country.

   6. Oil for the light].  "Pure oil olive beaten
   for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."[79]
   Spices for anointing oil].  Prepared for the purpose of
   anointing both the vessels of the Tabernacle and the
   Tabernacle itself. Spices entered into the composition of this
   oil, as is said in KKi-Tissa.[80]  And for sweet
   incense] which was burned night and morning, as is
   described in detail in Tezaweh.[81]  As to the word
   ketoret (Qof Mem Resh Tav), it comes from the rising of
   the smoke (Kitor (Qof Mem Vav Resh)).

   7. Onyx stones].  Two were needed for the ephod,
   described in Tezaweh.[82]  And stones to be set]
   for an ouch of gold was made in which the stones were set,
   entirely filling it.  These stones are called "stones to be
   set."  As to the bezel it is called mishbetzet (Mem Shin
   Bet Tsadi Tav.  In the ephod, and in the
   breastplate].  Onyx stones for the ephod and "stones to be
   set" for the breastplate.  The breastplate as well as the
   ephod are described in Tezaweh[83]; they are two sorts
   of ornaments.

If these citations did not suffice, his anti-Christian polemics
would furnish ample evidence of the wise use Rashi made of the
Peshat.  The word polemics, perhaps, is not exact.  Rashi does
not make assaults upon Christianity; he contents himself with
showing that a verse which the Church has adopted for its own
ends, when rationally interpreted, has an entirely different
meaning and application.  Only to this extent can Rashi be said
to have written polemics against the Christians.  However that
may be, no other course is possible; for the history of Adam and
Eve or the blessing of Jacob cannot be explained, unless one
takes a stand for or against Christianity.  It was not difficult
to refute Christian doctrines; Rashi could easily dispose of the
stupid or extravagant inventions of Christian exegesis.
Sometimes he does not name the adversaries against whom he aimed;
sometimes he openly says he has in view the Minim or
"Sectaries," that is, the Christians.  The Church, it is well
known, transformed chiefly the Psalms into predictions of
Christianity.  In order to ward off such an interpretation and
not to expose themselves to criticism, many Jewish exegetes gave
up that explanation of the Psalms by which they are held to be
proclamations of the Messianic era, and would see in them
allusions only to historic facts.  Rashi followed this tendency;
and for this reason, perhaps, his commentary on the Psalms is one
of the most satisfying from a scientific point of view.  For
instance, he formally states: "Our masters apply this passage to
the Messiah; but in order to refute the Minim, it is better to
apply it to David."

One would wish that Rashi had on all occasions sought the simple
and natural meaning of the Biblical text.  That he clothed the
Song of Songs, in part at least, in a mantle of allegory, is
excusable, since he was authorized, nay, obliged, to do so by
tradition.  In the Proverbs this manner is less tolerable.  The
book is essentially secular in character; but Rashi could not
take it in this way.  To him it was an allegory; and he
transformed this manual of practical wisdom into a prolonged
conversation between the Torah and Israel.  Again, though Rashi
discriminated among the Midrashim, and adopted only those that
seemed reconcilable with the natural meaning, his commentaries
none the less resemble Haggadic compilations.  This is true,
above all, of the Pentateuch.  And if the Haggadah "so far as
religion is concerned was based upon the oral law, and from an
esthetic point of view upon the apparent improprieties of the
Divine word," it nevertheless "serves as a pretext rather than a
text for the flights, sometimes the caprice or digressions, of
religious thought."[84]  Now, Rashi was so faithful to the spirit
of the Midrash that he accepted without wincing the most curious
and shocking explanations, or, if he rejected them, it was not
because he found fault with the explanations themselves.
Sometimes, when we see him balance the simple construction
against the Midrashic interpretation of the text, we are annoyed
to feel how he is drawn in opposite directions by two tendencies.
We realize that in consequence his works suffer from a certain
incoherence, or lack of equilibrium, that they are uneven and
mixed in character.  To recognize that he paid tribute to the
taste of the age, or yielded to the attraction the Midrash
exercised upon a soul of naive faith, is not sufficient, for in
point of fact he pursued the two methods at the same time, the
method of literal and the method of free interpretation, seeming
to have considered them equally legitimate and fruitful of
results.  Often, it is true, he shakes off the authority of
tradition, and we naturally query why his good sense did not
always assert itself, and free him from the tentacles of the
Talmud and the Midrash.

Now that we have formulated our grievance against Rashi, it is
fair that we try to justify him by recalling the ideas prevailing
at the time, and the needs he wished to satisfy.

The Midrashim, as I have said, have a double object, on the one
hand, the exposition of legal and religious practices, on the
other hand, the exposition of the beliefs and hopes of religion.
So far as the Halakic Midrash is concerned, it was marvellously
[marvelously sic] well adapted to the French-Jewish intellect,
penetrated as it was by Talmudism.  The study of the Talmud so
completely filled the lives of the Jews that it was difficult to
break away from the rabbinical method.  Rashi did not see in the
Bible a literary or philosophic masterpiece.  Nor did he study it
with the unprejudiced eyes of the scholar.  He devoted himself to
this study-especially of the Pentateuch-with only the one aim in
view, that of finding the origin or the explanation of civil and
ritual laws, the basis or the indication of Talmudic precepts.
Sometimes he kicked against the pricks.  When convinced that the
rabbinical explanation did not agree with a sane exegesis, he
would place himself at variance with the Talmud for the sake of a
rational interpretation.  What more than this can be expected?
Nor need we think of him as the unwilling prisoner of rules and a
victim of their tyranny.  On the contrary, he adapted himself to
them perfectly, and believed that the Midrash could be made to
conform to its meaning without violence to the text.  That he
always had reason to believe so was denied by so early a
successor as his grandson Samuel ben Meir.  Samuel insisted that
one stand face to face with the Scriptures and interpret them
without paying heed and having recourse to any other work.  This
effort at intellectual independence in which the grandson nearly
always succeeded, the grandfather was often incapable of making.
In commenting upon the Talmud Rashi preserved his entire liberty,
unrestrained by the weight of any absolute authority; but in
commenting on the Bible he felt himself bound by the Talmud and
the Midrash.  Especially in regard to the Pentateuch, the
Talmudic interpretation was unavoidable, because the Pentateuch
either explicitly or implicitly contains all legal prescriptions.
In point of fact, in leaving the Pentateuch and proceeding to
other parts of the Bible, he gains in force because he gains in
independence.  He no longer fears to confront "our sages" with
the true explanation.  For example, there is little Derash in the
following commentary on Psalm xxiii:

   A Psalm of David].  Our rabbis say: The formula "Psalm
   of David" indicates that David at first played the instrument,
   then was favored by Divine inspiration.  It, therefore,
   signifies, Psalm to give inspiration to David.  On the other
   hand, when it is said "To David, a Psalm,"[85] the formula
   indicates that David, having received Divine inspiration, sang
   a song in consequence of the revelation.

   1. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want].  In this
   desert in which I wander I am full of trust, sure that I shall
   lack nothing.

   2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures].  In a
   place to dwell where grass grows.  The poet, having begun by
   comparing his sustenance to the pasturing of animals, in the
   words, "The Lord Is my Shepherd," continues the image.  This
   Psalm was recited by David in the forest of Hereth, which was
   so called because it was arid as clay (heres), but it
   was watered by God with all the delights of the next world
   (Midrash on the Psalms).

   3. He will restore my soul].  My soul, benumbed by
   misfortunes and by my flight, He will restore to its former
   estate.  He will lead me in the paths of righteousness]
   along the straight highway so that I may not fall into the
   hands of my enemies.

   4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
   death, I will fear no evil].  In the country of shadows
   this applies to the wilderness of Ziph.[86]  The word
   tzalmavet (Tsadi Lamed Mem Vov Tav) here employed
   always signifies "utter darkness"[87]; this is the way in
   which it is explained by Dunash ben Labrat[88].  Thy rod
   and thy staff they comfort me].  The sufferings I have
   undergone and my reliance, my trust, in Thy goodness are my
   two consolations, for they bring me pardon for my faults, and
   I am sure that

   5. Thou wilt prepare a table before me], that is,
   royalty.  Thou hast anointed my head with oil].  I have
   already been consecrated king at Thy command.  My cup
   runneth over].  An expression signifying abundance.

From this commentary one realizes, I do not say the perfection,
but the simplicity, Rashi could attain when he was not obliged to
discover in Scriptures allusions to laws or to beliefs foreign to
the text.  As Mendelssohn said of him, "No one is comparable with
him when he writes Peshat." Even though Rashi gave too much space
to the legal exegesis of the Talmud, Mendelssohn's example will
make us more tolerant toward him - Mendelssohn who himself could
not always steer clear of this method.

Moreover, the commentary on the Bible is not exactly a scholarly
work; it is above all a devotional work, written, as the Germans
say, fur Schule und Haus, for the school and the family.
The masses, to whom Rashi addressed himself, were not so
cultivated that he could confine himself to a purely grammatical
exposition or to bare exegesis.  He had to introduce fascinating
legends, subtle deductions, ingenious comparisons.  The Bible was
studied, not so much for its own sake, as for the fact that it
was the text-book of morality, the foundation of belief, the
source of all hopes.  Every thought, every feeling bore an
intimate relation to Scriptures.  The Midrash exercised an
irresistible attraction upon simple, deeply devout souls.  It
appealed to the heart as well as to the intelligence, and in
vivid, attractive form set forth religious and moral truths.
Granted that success justifies everything, then the very method
with which we reproach Rashi explains the fact that he has had,
and continues to have, thousands of readers.  The progress of
scientific exegesis has made us aware of what we would now
consider a serious mistake in method.  We readily understand why
Derash plays so important a role in Rashi's commentaries, and to
what requirements he responded; but that does not make us any
more content with his method.  To turn from Rashi to a more
general consideration of the Midrashic exegesis, we also
understand its long continuance, though we do not deprecate it
less, because it is unscientific and irrational.

In spite of all, however, the use of the Derash must be
considered a virtue in Rashi.  Writing before the author of the
Yalkut Shimeoni,[89] he revealed to his contemporaries,
among whom not only the masses are to be included, but, owing to
the rarity of books, scholars as well, a vast number of legends
and traditions, which have entered into the very being of the
people, and have been adopted as their own.  Rashi not only
popularized numerous Midrashim, but he also preserved a number
the sources of which are no longer extant, and which without him
would be unknown.  This Biblical commentary is thus the store-
house of Midrashic literature, the aftermath of that luxuriant
growth whose latest products ripened in the eighth, ninth, and
even tenth centuries.

It is hardly proper, then, to be unduly severe in our judgment of
Rashi's work.  In fact, why insist on his faults, since he
himself recognized the imperfections of his work, and would have
bettered them if he had had the time? The testimony of his
grandson upon this point is explicit:

   "The friends of reason," said Samuel ben Meir, "should steep
   themselves in this principle of our sages, that natural
   exegesis can never be superseded.  It is true that the chief
   aim of the Torah was to outline for us rules of religious
   conduct, which we discover behind the literal meaning through
   Haggadic and Halakic interpretation.  And the ancients, moved
   by their piety, occupied themselves only with Midrashic
   exegesis as being the most important, and they failed to dwell
   at great length upon the literal meaning.  Add to this the
   fact that the scholars advise us not to philosophize too much
   upon the Scriptures.  And R. Solomon, my maternal
   grandfather, the Torch of the Captivity, who commented on the
   Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, devoted himself to the
   development of the natural meaning of the text; and I, Samuel
   son of Meir, discussed his explanations with him and before
   him, and he confessed to me that if he had had the leisure, he
   would have deemed it necessary to do his work all over again
   by availing himself of the explanations that suggest
   themselves day after day."[90]

It seems, therefore, that Rashi only gradually, as the result of
experience and discussion, attained to a full consciousness of
the requirements of a sound exegesis and the duties of a Biblical
commentator.  What the grandfather had not been able to do was
accomplished by the grandson.  The commentary of Samuel ben Meir
realized Rashi's resolutions.  Though Rashi may not have been
irreproachable as a commentator, he at least pointed out the way,
and his successors, enlightened by his example, could elaborate
his method and surpass it, but only with the means with which he
provided them.  We must take into account that he was almost an
originator, and we readily overlook many faults and flaws in
remembering that he was the first to prepare the material.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grammar and lexicography are the two bases of exegesis.  Rashi
was as clever a grammarian as was possible in his time and in his
country.  At all events he was not of the same opinion as the
Pope, who rebuked the Archbishop of Vienna for having taught
grammar in his schools, because, he said, it seemed to him rules
of grammar were not worthy the Sacred Text, and it was unfitting
to subject the language of Holy Scriptures to these rules.  Rashi
in his explanations pays regard to the laws of language, and in
both his Talmudic and Biblical commentaries, he frequently
formulates scientific laws, or, it might be said, empiric rules,
regarding, for instance, distinctions in the usage of words
indicated by the position of the accent, different meanings of
the same particle, certain vowel changes, and so on.  Thus, we
have been able to construct a grammar of Rashi, somewhat
rudimentary, but very advanced for the time.

Nevertheless, in this regard, a wide gap separates the
commentaries of Rashi and the works of the Spanish school of
exegetes, which shone with such lustre [luster sic] in that
epoch.  Under the influence and stimulus of the Arabs, scientific
studies took an upward flight among the Jews of Moslem Spain.
The Midrash was abandoned to the preachers, while the scholars
cultivated the Hebrew language and literature with fruitful
results.  In France, on the contrary, though rabbinical studies
were already flourishing, the same is not true of philological
studies, which were introduced into France only through the
influence of the Spaniards.  French scholars soon came to know
the works, written in Hebrew, of Menahem ben Saruk and Dunash ben
Labrat,[91] and Rashi availed himself of them frequently, and not
always uncritically.  Thus, like them, he distinguishes
triliteral, biliteral, and even uniliteral roots; but contrary to
them, he maintains that contracted and quiescent verbs are
triliteral and not biliteral.  Unfortunately, he could have no
knowledge of the more important works of Hayyoudj, "father of
grammarians," and of Ibn Djanah, who carried the study of Hebrew
to a perfection surpassed only by the moderns;[92] for these
works were written in Arabic, and the translations into Hebrew,
made by the scholars of Southern France, did not appear until the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries.  Though the Spanish Jews did
not yet cultivate the allegoric and mystic exegesis, their
philosophic sense was rather refined and they did not always
approach the study of the Bible without seeking something not
clearly expressed in the text, without arriere-pensee so
to speak.  Rashi's exegesis was more ingenuous and, therefore,
more objective.

Moreover, even if Rashi was not in complete possession of
grammatical rules, he had perfectly mastered the spirit of the
Hebrew language.  Like the Spaniards, he had that very fine
understanding for the genius of the language which arises from
persevering study, from constant occupation with its literature.
We have cited the sources upon which he drew; it would be unjust
not to remark that he made original investigations.  For example
(and the examples might be multiplied) apropos of a difficult
passage in Ezekiel, he asserted that he had drawn the explanation
from inner stores, and had been guided only by Divine inspiration
- a formula borrowed from the Geonim.  He was frequently
consulted in regard to the meaning of Biblical passages, and one
response has been preserved, that given to the scholars of
Auxerre when they asked for an explanation of several chapters of
the Prophets.  This fact shows that the Jews gave themselves up
with ardor to the study of the Bible, men of education making it
their duty to copy the Bible with the most scrupulous care and
according to the best models, to the number of which they thus
made additions.  Among these copies are the ones made by Gershom,
by Joseph Tob Elem, and by Menahem of Joigny.  The Jews were
almost the only persons versed in the Bible.  I have mentioned
how much the Church feared the sight of the Bible in the hands of
the common people, and in clerical circles an absolutely
antiscientific spirit reigned in regard to these matters.  It was
the triumph of symbolism, allegory, and docetism.  All the less
likely, then, were they to know Hebrew.  An exception was the
monk Sigebert de Gemblours, a teacher at Metz in the last quarter
of the eleventh century, who maintained relations with Jewish
scholars.  He is said to have known Hebrew.

Rashi's thorough knowledge of Hebrew enabled him to depend upon
his memory for quoting the appropriate verses, and in all his
citations there is scarcely a mistake, natural though an error
would have been in quoting from memory.  Distinguishing between
the Hebrew of the Bible and that of the Talmud, he sees in the
Hebrew of the Mishnah a transition between the two.  Often, for
the purpose of explaining a word in the Bible, he has recourse to
Talmudic Hebrew or to the Aramaic.  He pays careful attention to
the precise meaning of words and to distinctions among synonyms,
and he had perception for delicate shading in syntax and
vocabulary.  Owing to this thorough knowledge of Hebrew he
readily obtained insight into the true sense of the text.  By
subjecting the thought of the Holy Scriptures to a simple and
entirely rational examination, he not seldom succeeds in
determining it.  Thus, as it were by divination, he lighted upon
the meaning of numerous Biblical passages.  A long list might be
made of explanations misunderstood by his successors, and
revived, consciously or unconsciously, by modern exegetes.  An
illustration in point is his explanation of the first verse of
Genesis, quoted above.  Long before such Biblical criticism had
become current it was he who said that the "servant of God"
mentioned in certain chapters of the second part of Isaiah
represents the people of Israel.

Needless to say Rashi never tampers with the text.  At most, as
is the case with Ibn Djanah, he says that a letter is missing or
is superfluous.  Sometimes, too, he changes the order of the
words.  Neither copyists' mistakes nor grammatical anomalies
existed for him.  Yet he believed in all sincerity that the
ancient sages could have corrected certain Biblical texts to
remove from them a meaning startling or derogatory when applied
to the Divinity.

Rashi wholly ignored what modern criticism calls the Introduction
to the Scriptures, that is to say, the study of the Bible and the
books of which it is composed from the point of view of their
origin, their value, and the changes they have undergone.  But
rarely, here and there in his commentaries, does one find any
references to the formation of the canon.  To give an example
showing how he justified a classification of the Hagiographa
given by a Talmudic text and disagreeing with the present
classification: Ruth comes first, because it belongs to the
period of the Judges; Job follows, because he lived at the time
of the Queen of Sheba; then come the three books of Solomon,
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, both gnomic works, and the Song of Songs,
written in Solomon's old age; Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra
(comprising the present Nehemiah), and Chronicles are likewise
placed in chronological order.  In the same passage of the Talmud
the question is put as to why the redaction of the prophecies of
Isaiah is attributed to King Hezekiah and his academy.  Rashi
explained that the prophets collected their speeches only a short
time before their death, and Isaiah having died a violent death,
his works could not enjoy the benefit of his own redaction.

Still less need one expect to find in Rashi modern exegesis, that
criticism which applies to Scriptures an investigation entirely
independent of extraneous considerations, such as is brought to
bear upon purely human works.  Rashi's candid soul was never
grazed by the slightest doubt of the authenticity of a Biblical
passage.  We can admire the genial divinations of an Abraham Ibn
Ezra, but we also owe respect to that sincere faith of Rashi
which was incapable of suspecting the testimony of tradition and
the axioms of religion.

Ibn Ezra[93] and Rashi present the most vivid contrast.  Though
Ibn Ezra was open-minded and clear-sighted, he was restless and
troubled.  He led an adventurous existence, because his character
was adventurous.  Rashi's spirit was calm, without morbid
curiosity, leaning easily upon the support of traditional
religion, frank, throughout his life as free from the shadows of
doubt as the soul of a child.  Ibn Ezra had run the scientific
gamut of his time, but he also dipped into mysticism, astrology,
arithmolatry, even magic.  Rashi, on the contrary, was not
acquainted with the profane sciences, and so was kept from their
oddities.  With his clear, sure intelligence he penetrated to the
bottom of the text without bringing it into agreement with views
foreign to it.  But the characteristic which distinguishes him
above all others from Ibn Ezra is the frankness of his nature.
He never seemed desirous of knowing 'what he did not know, nor of
believing what he did not believe.  Finally, and in the regard
that specially interests us, Ibn Ezra, who belonged to the school
of Arabic philosophers and scholars, who knew the Spanish
grammarians, and was their inheritor, always employed the Peshat
- that is, when he was not biassed by his philosophic ideas.  In
this case he saw the true meaning of the text, perhaps more
clearly than any other Jewish commentator.  Rashi did not possess
the same scientific resources.  He knew only the Talmud and the
Midrash, and believed that all science was included in them.
Moreover, though he stated in so many words his preference for a
literal and natural interpretation of the text, he fell short of
always obeying his own principle.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is one characteristic of Rashi's Bible commentaries which I
have already touched upon, but to which it is well to revert by
way of conclusion, since it makes the final impression upon a
student of the commentaries.  I refer to a certain intimacy or
informality of the work, a certain easy way of taking things.
The author used no method.  Now he explains the text simply and
naturally; now he enjoys adorning it with fanciful
embellishments.  One would say of him, as of many an author of
the Talmud, that in writing his work he rested from his Talmudic
studies; and one seems to hear in these unceremonious
conversations, these unpretentious homilies, the same note that
even in the present day is sometimes struck in synagogues on
Saturday afternoons.  What clearly shows that Rashi unbent a
little in composing his Biblical commentaries are the flashes of
wit and humor lighting them, the display of his native grace of
character, his smiling geniality.  If he yielded some credence to
the most naive inventions, this does not mean that he was always
and entirely their dupe.  They simply gave him the utmost
delight.  He did not refrain from piquant allusions; and the
commentary on the Pentateuch presents a number of pleasantries,
some of which are a bit highly-spiced for modern taste.
Fundamentally, they are a heritage of the old Midrashic spirit
grafted upon the gaiety of "mischievous and fine Champagne," as
Michelet said.  Assuredly, there were hours in which good humor
reigned over master and pupils, and we seem to see the smile that
accompanied the witty sallies, and the radiance of that kindly
charm which illuminated the dry juridic discussions.  All this
forms an attractive whole, and everyone may feel the attraction;
for the commentaries on the Bible, which can be read with
pleasure and without mental fatigue, are intelligible to persons
of most mediocre mind and cultivation.  The words of a certain
French critic upon another writer of Champagne, La Fontaine,
might be applied to Rashi, though a comparison between a poet and
a commentator may not be pressed to the utmost.  "He is the milk
of our early years, the bread of the adult, the last meal of the
old man.  He is the familiar genius of every hearth."

For many centuries the Biblical commentaries held a position -
and still hold it - similar to that of La Fontaine's Fables.  Few
works have ever been copied, printed, and commented upon to the
same extent.  Immediately upon their appearance, they became
popular in the strongest sense of the word.  They cast into the
shade the work of his disciples, which according to modern
judgment are superior.  Preachers introduced some commentaries of
his into their sermons, and made his words the subject of their
instruction; and Rashi was taught even to the children.  The mass
of readers assimilated the Halakic and Haggadic elements.  Those
who were not students, through Rashi got a smattering of a
literature that would otherwise have been inaccessible to them;
and the commentaries threw into circulation a large number of
legends, which became the common property of the Jews.  Rashi's
expressions and phrases entered into current speech, especially
those happy formulas which impress themselves on the memory.  His
commentary is printed in all the rabbinical Bibles; it has become
to the Jews inseparable from the text, and even Mendelssohn's
commentary, which has all of Rashi's good qualities and none of
his faults, did not succeed in eclipsing it.  In short, it is a

                           CHAPTER VII


The commentaries on the Bible, especially those on the
Pentateuch, constitute a work for general reading and for
devotion as well as for scientific study.  Their general scope
explains both their excellencies and their defects.  On the other
hand, the commentary on the Talmud is an academic work.  It
originated in the school of Rashi, and was elaborated there
during a long time.  The one is a popular work for the use of the
masses, the other, a learned treatise for the use of students.
The explanation of the Scriptures was written for the benefit of
the faithful in popular, attractive, and comprehensible form; the
explanation of the Talmud constituted matter for serious study in
the academies.  Or, rather, after the long, exhaustive, and often
dry-as-dust Talmudic discussion, the master took pleasure in
interrupting his instruction in the school to give his
interpretation of Biblical passages.

This is the reason why the Talmudic commentaries,[94] which are,
as it were, the summing-up of Rashi's teachings, of his own
studies, and of the observations of his pupils, have a more
mature, more thoughtful character than the Biblical commentaries.
They undoubtedly represent a greater amount of labor.  It seems
that Rashi himself made two or three recensions of his
commentary, at least for many of the Talmudic treatises.
Testimony to this fact is given by the variations of certain
passages in the extant text and that cited by the ancient
authors, notably the Tossafists.  Moreover, the Tossafists
explicitly mention corrections made by Rashi in his own work.
The query naturally arises whether the corrections indicate that
Rashi worked the entire commentary over and over again.  The
answer is no; for certain treatises remained incomplete, and
others seem never to have been begun.  Presumably, then, Rashi
revised a treatise according to the needs of the occasion, as,
for instance, when it came under his eyes in the course of
instruction.  However that may be, the work that we now possess
is a mixture of the first and the last recension, though we
cannot always tell which is the later and which the earlier.

Another fact explains the difference I have pointed out between
the Biblical and the Talmudic commentaries.  For the Biblical
commentaries there had been no precedent, and if they possess the
merit of originality, they also illustrate the errors of a man
who tries his powers in a field of work devoid of all tradition.
For the Talmudic commentaries, on the contrary, models were not
lacking.  The example of Gershom was sufficiently notable to evoke
imitation, though his work was not so complete as to discourage
it.  We must not forget Rashi's predecessors because he eclipsed
them.  This would be contrary to his intentions, since he
frequently cites them, rendering value in return for value
received.  In fact, he knew well how to use their works to
advantage.  He submitted them to a judicial and minute
examination, collecting all the material he needed furnished by
the Geonim as well as by his immediate masters.  It would be as
inexact to assert that he only made a resume of their
works as to say that he worked along entirely original lines and
relied solely upon his own resources.  If we could compare his
commentaries with previous commentaries (for some this comparison
has been made), we should be forced into the admission that his
part is smaller than one would suppose.  The best proof of this
fact is that the usual basis of his commentary for each treatise
was the explanation of the master under whom he had studied it.
He often cites the writings of his masters, to which he gives the
title Yesod, "Foundation," probably either collections
made by the teachers themselves or notebooks edited by their
pupils.  As a result of the love of brevity which is one of
Rashi's marked characteristics, he does not quote in its entirety
the source upon which he draws, but more frequently reproduces
the sense rather than the exact words.

I must hasten to add that the Talmudic commentaries of Rashi's
masters were inadequate, and did not meet all needs.  We can judge
of the lacunae in them both from the commentaries that have been
preserved and from the criticisms which Rashi frequently added as
an accompaniment to his citations.  Sometimes the commentaries
were too diffuse, sometimes too concise; their language was
obscure and awkward; no stress was laid upon explaining all
details, and the commentaries themselves stood in need of
explanation; they addressed themselves to accomplished Talmudists
rather than to students.  Rashi's commentaries, on the contrary,
could be understood by men of small learning-hence their
influence and popularity.  Moreover, the commentaries of his
masters often contradicted one another, coming as they did from
scholars who did not shrink from discussion.  Rashi wished to put
an end to these debates and introduce some unity into rabbinical
tradition, and generally his purpose in refraining from a
quotation of his predecessors was exactly to avoid an opening
into the field of controversy.  Finally, their commentaries, it
seems, were not comprehensive; they bore upon only one or several
treatises; whereas Rashi's bore on all or nearly all the
treatises of the Gemara.[95]  With Rashi execution rose to the
height of his conception.

Rashi availed himself so little of the work of his masters that
he began by establishing a correct text of the Talmud and
subjecting it to a severe revision.  The mistakes of his
predecessors oftenest arose from the faultiness of the texts,
marred by ignorant copyists or presumptuous readers.  What is
more, the use to which the Talmud was put in the academies and
the discussions to which it gave rise, far from sheltering it
from alterations made by way of correction, modified it in every
conceivable fashion, according to the views of the chiefs of the
schools.  Like every book in circulation, the Talmud was exposed
to the worst changes, and this all the more readily, because at
that time no one had a notion of what we call respect for the
text, for the idea of the author.  As rigidly as the text of the
Bible was maintained intact in the very minutest details, so lax
was the treatment of the Talmud, which was at the mercy of
individual whim.  Naturally, the less scrupulous and less
clearsighted allowed themselves the most emendations.
Accordingly, Rabbenu Gershom felt called upon to put a severe
restriction upon such liberties.  Though he succeeded in
moderating the evil, it could not be suppressed retroactively.
Rashi realized that corrections made wittingly were
indispensable, and that it was necessary to clear the Talmudic
forest of entangling briers.  Moreover, as we learn from Rashi
himself, Gershom had already undertaken the task.  Rashi also
tells us that he had Gershom's autograph manuscript before him,
not to mention other copies he was consulting and collating.
Further testimony, apart from this internal evidence, is provided
by Rashi's references to texts parallel to the Talmud, among them
the Tosefta.  Sometimes he records two readings without giving
either the preference, though as a rule the reasoning or the
context shows that he leans one way or the other, so that his
alterations, which are usually correct, do not necessarily
represent the early text.  When Rashi has good cause for deciding
a point in a certain way, he does not pay attention to possible
errors or contradictions on the part of the Talmudists.  In other
words, though his text may be the most rational, it is not always
the most authentic.

Rashi exercised this criticism of the text to a wide extent, yet
prudently.  I have already mentioned what Isaac of Vienna said
concerning the numerous erasures that covered an autograph
manuscript of his.[96]  Many readings that Rashi rejected might
have been kept - in fact they sometimes were kept - by force of
finesse and subtlety.  His method affords a striking contrast to
that of the Talmudist Hananel,[97] who either eliminates the
phrases unacceptable to him or preserves them only by doing
violence to the sense.  Rashi, on the contrary, compared the
different versions of difficult or suspicious passages and
prefers the one not requiring a subtle explanation.  It is only
when no reading satisfies him that he assumes an interpolation or
an error, in this event frequently resorting to the Responsa of
the Geonim.  Needless to say, he also paid heed to the revision
of Gershom; but since he deemed that Gershom had himself
preserved faulty readings, he took up the work again, despite
Gershom's prohibition.  He realized that this careful and
detailed critical revision of his predecessor, however ungrateful
the soil might appear, was nevertheless fertile ground, and might
serve as the solid basis of a thorough commentary.

He acquitted himself of the task with such success that his has
become the official text, the "Vulgate," of the Talmud.  In fact,
his disciples inserted into the body of the Gemara the greater
part of his corrections or restitutions (but not all; and one
does not always comprehend the reasons for their choice), which
have now become an integral part of the text.  Thus a single,
definite, and official text was established - a thing of great
value in assuring the stability of rabbinical tradition in France
and Germany.

From what I have already said, the reader can gather how
individual was Rashi's method.  The foundation for his
commentaries, it is true, was provided by tradition and by the
instruction he received from his masters.  But over and above the
circumstance that he preserved only what seemed fitting to him,
is the fact that value attached rather to the setting given the
material than to the material itself.  Herein resides Rashi's
merit - and the merit is great.  He was occupied not so much in
extracting from the discussion of the Talmud the essential ideas,
the principles indicating rules of practice, as in rendering the
discussion comprehensible both in its entirety and in its
details.  He wrote a grammatical commentary which provides the
exact meaning, not only of the opinions set forth, but also of
the phrases and expressions employed.  A Jewish scholar of our
day, I. H. Weiss, who has accomplished much toward acclimatizing
the scientific study of the Talmud in Eastern Europe, justly
remarked - and what he says is a lesson to the rabbis of his

   How many Talmudists are there nowadays who take pains to
   understand exactly the meaning of such and such a passage of
   the Talmud, or who are capable of explaining it grammatically?
   They do like the predecessors of Rashi, whose method it was to
   give an exposition of an entire discussion merely by
   simplifying its terms.  They wrote consecutive commentaries,
   not notes; and they often failed to explain difficult words.
   Rashi, on the contrary, always definitely determined the
   meaning of the various terms.

He does this with a sure touch, and the precision of his
explanations is all the more remarkable as he did not know -
whatever one may say to the contrary - the Talmudic lexicon of
Nathan ben Jehiel, of Rome, which was not brought to a conclusion
until four years after Rashi's death.  It is a favorite trick of
legend to establish relations between illustrious contemporaries,
especially when their activities were exercised in the same
field, and tradition has made Rashi the pupil of Nathan.  The
idea of such a relationship, however, is purely fantastic, the
two rabbis probably not having ever known each other.[98]

Rashi carried the same spirit of exactness and precision into the
whole of this work - qualities indispensable but difficult of
attainment; for as A. Darmesteter well says:

   Whoever has opened a page of the Talmud understands how
   necessary is a commentary upon a text written in Aramaic and
   treating of often unfamiliar questions in concise,
   exasperatingly obscure dialectics.  The language, too, is
   obscure, and the lack of punctuation renders reading difficult
   to novices.  No mark separates question from answer,
   digressions from parenthetical observations.  The phrases form
   only a long string of words placed one after the other, in
   which one distinguishes neither the beginning nor the end of
   the sentences.

The difficulty presented by the obscurity of the style is
increased by allusions to facts and customs which are no longer
known and cannot always be guessed at.  Now, thanks to Rashi's
commentary, a reader possessing a knowledge of the elements of
the language and some slight knowledge of Jewish law, can
decipher it without overmuch difficulty.

Rarely superficial, Rashi explains the text simply yet
thoroughly.  He sifts his matter to the bottom.  His reasoning is
free from subtleties and violations of the sense.  This
characteristic comes out in bold relief when we compare Rashi
with his disciples, the Tossafists, who carry their niceties to
an excess.  It would be wrong to hold Rashi responsible for the
abuse later made of controversy; while, on the other hand, praise
is owing to him for the happy efforts he made to unravel the
texts, not only for the purpose of explaining their meaning, but
also to indicate possible objections and reply to them in a few
words.  One must marvel at the clearsighted intelligence, the
sureness, the mastery with which Rashi conveys the gist of a
discussion as well as the value of the details, easily taking up
each link in the chain of question and answer, pruning away
superfluities, but not recoiling before necessary supplementary
developments.  In addition, rather than resort to forced
explanations, he did not hesitate to avow that certain passages
puzzled him, or that his knowledge was insufficient - a scruple
not always entertained by his successors.

To determine the meaning of a text, Rashi frequently referred to
parallel passages, contained not only in the Gemara itself, but
also in other collections, such as the Tosefta, or the Halakic
Midrashim.[99]  Sometimes the Gemara cites them, or refers to
them, at other times it makes no allusion whatsoever to them.  In
the latter case, it may be stated, Rashi, even when he does not
say so explicitly, himself found the text for comparison and was
inspired by it.

Moreover, on occasion, he points out general rules to which he
conforms, some of them indicated in the Talmud itself, others
provided by the Geonim, and others again evolved by himself in
the course of his studies.  Those who are competent to judge
admire the precision with which he lays down these principles.  By
combining them, an excellent, although very incomplete, Talmudic
methodology might be drawn up.

Some examples will give a better idea than a mere description of
Rashi's method.  I will separate his commentary from the text of
the Gemara by square brackets, so as to show how he inserts his
commentary, and how perfectly he adapts it to the Gemara.

The following passages deal with the proclamation of the new
moon, made by the supreme tribunal, upon the evidence of two
persons who declare that they have seen the new moon.

   Mishnah: If he is not known [if the tribunal does not know the
   witness, does not know if he is honest and worthy of
   confidence], they [the tribunal of his city] will send another
   person with him [to bear witness concerning the new moon before
   the great tribunal, which proclaims the new month].  At first,
   evidence concerning the new moon was accepted from any and
   every body; since the Boethusians[100] turned to evil [this is
   explained in the Gemara], it was decided that only the
   testimony of persons who were known would be taken.

   Gemara: What does "another" signify?  Another individual? Does
   it mean that a single person is thought [worthy of confidence
   in declaring the first night of the new moon]? Is it not
   taught in a Baraita: "It once happened that a man came [to the
   tribunal, on the Sabbath, in order to give evidence concerning
   the new moon], accompanied by his witnesses, to testify
   concerning himself" [to declare him worthy of confidence]? Rab
   Papa replies: "Another" signifies "another couple of
   witnesses."  This explanation seems to be the true one; for
   otherwise what would these words signify: "If he is not known?"
   If this individual is not known?  But does it mean that
   a single person is believed [in bearing witness in regard to
   the new moon]?  In connection with this, do not the Scriptures
   use the word law [in the verse: For this was a statute for
   Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob[101]]?  Here, then, "the
   witness" signifies "the couple" of witnesses; similarly the
   previous "another" signifies "another couple."  But is it
   quite certain that a single man is not enough?  However, it is
   taught in a Baraita: "It once happened on a Sabbath that R.
   Nehoral accompanied a witness to give evidence concerning him
   at Usha" [at the time when the Sanhedrin had its seat in that
   city, and the new moon was proclaimed there].  R. Nehorai was
   accompanied by another witness, and if this witness is not
   mentioned, it is out of regard for R. Nehorai [for R. Nehorai
   is mentioned only that we may infer from his case that so
   prominent an authority inclined to leniency in the
   circumstances stated; but it is not fitting for us to appeal
   to the authority of his less important companion].  Rab Ashi
   replies: There was already another witness at Usha [who knew
   the one that was coming to give evidence], and R. Nehorai went
   to join him.  If this is so, what is it that is meant to be
   conveyed to us?  This: we might have thought in case of doubt
   [possibly this second witness might not be at home], the
   Sabbath must not be trangressed; we are thus taught that one
   should do it, etc.  (Rosh ha-Shanah 22a bottom).

The following passage deals with the Lulab, which is used
at the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, and must be

   Mishnah: A Lulab [referring to the palm branch; farther
   on it will be stated that the myrtle and the willow of the
   brook are dealt with separately] that has been stolen [is
   unfit; for it is said:[102] "And ye shall take you": what
   belongs to you], or is dry [we demand that the ritual be
   carried out with care, in conformity with the words of
   Scripture:[103] "I will exalt Him "], is unfit.  Coming from
   an Ashera [a tree adored as an idol; the Gemara gives the
   reason for the prohibition] or from a city given up to idolatry
   [for it is considered as burnt down, as it is said: "And thou
   shalt gather all the Spoil of it."[104]  Now, the Lulab should
   have the length of four palms, as will be said farther
   on,[105] and since it is destined to be given up to the
   flames, it no longer has the desired length, being considered
   as burnt], it is unfit.  If its end is cut [it is unfit; for
   it is not "beautiful"], or if its leaves have fallen off [from
   the central stem, and are united only by a band like the
   broom, in French called "escoube."[106]  In this case, also,
   it is not "beautiful"], it is unfit.  If its leaves are
   separated [attached to the stem, but at the top separated on
   each side, like the branches of a tree], it is good.  R. Judah
   says: It should be bound [if its leaves are separated, they
   should be bound so that they are fixed to the stem as with
   other Lulabim].  The stony palm of the mountain - of - iron
   [the Gemara explains that these are palms] are good [they are
   Lulabim, although their leaves are very small and do not
   extend the length of the stem].  A Lulab having the length of
   three palms, so that it can be shaken [the Gemara explains:
   the stem should measure three palms, as much as the myrtle
   branch, and, in addition, another palm for shaking, for we
   require that the Lulab be shaken in the way told farther on
   (37b): "It is shaken vertically and horizontally," so as to
   exorcise the evil spirits and evil shades), is good.

   Gemara: The Tanna is brief in showing [that the Lulab is
   unfit] without distinguishing between the first day of the
   festival [the celebration of which is made obligatory by the
   Torah] and the second day [for which the ceremony of the Lulab
   is prescribed only by the Rabbis, Scriptures saying "on the
   first day"[102]].  It must certainly refer to the dry Lulab
   [it may be unfit, even from a rabbinical point of view, for
   since it is a rite instituted in commemoration of the Temple,
   we require that it be practiced with care], for we require
   that it be "beautiful," and in this case the condition is not
   fulfilled.  But so far as the stolen Lulab is concerned, I
   understand that it should not be used the first day, for in
   regard to the first day it is written: "And ye shall take
   you:" of what belongs to you; but why not the second day
   [whence does one know that one may not use it then?]?  R.
   Johanan replies in the name of R. Simon ben Yohai: because
   then a regulation would be fulfilled through the commission of
   a transgression, for it is said [for we find a verse which
   forbids the fulfilment of a regulation through committing a
   transgression]: "And ye brought that which was stolen, and the
   lame, and the sick."[107]  The stolen animal is likened to the
   lame; and just as it is irremediably unfit [it can never be
   offered as a sacrifice, because its imperfection is
   perpetual], so the one that is stolen is irremediably unfit
   [we deduce from this verse that it can never more become of
   use, even if there has been a renunciation; that is, if we
   have heard the owner renounce the object by saying, for
   example, "Decidedly, I have lost this purse;" although in
   regard to the ownership of the animal, we said, in the
   treatise Baba Kama (68a), that the holder became the
   possessor, if the first owner renounced it; however, he cannot
   offer it as a sacrifice upon the altar], whether this be
   before or after the renunciation.  If before the renunciation,
   because the Torah says, "If any man of you bring an
   offering;[108] now, the stolen animal does not belong to him,
   but after the renunciation the holder becomes the possessor of
   it through the fact of this renunciation [why, then, does the
   prophet forbid its being used as an offering?].  Is it not
   exactly because this would be to fulfil [fulfill sic] a
   regulation by committing a transgression?  R. Johanan says
   again in the name of R. Simon ben Yohai: what does this verse
   signify: "For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for
   burnt offering"?[109]  [for the burnt offering that you bring
   me, I hate the theft of which you make yourself guilty in
   stealing these animals, although everything belongs and always
   has belonged to Me].  Let us compare this case with that of a
   mortal king, who, passing before the house of a publican, says
   to his servants: "Give the toll to the publican."  They object
   and say: "But is it not to thee that all the tolls return?"
   To which the king replies: "May all travellers [sic] take an
   example from me and not escape the payment of toll."  In the
   same way God says: "I hate robbery for burnt offerings; may My
   children take an example from Me and escape the temptation to

   It has likewise been shown [that the motive of the Mishnah in
   declaring the stolen Lulab unfit for use on the second day of
   the festival, is that It would be the fulfilment of a
   regulation through the commission of a transgression].  Rabbi
   Ammi says: etc., (Sukkah 29b).

From these two citations it is evident that Rashi does not shrink
from complicated explanations, and that he does not comment on
the easy passages.  In the following quotation, the discussion is
somewhat more difficult to follow.

   Mishnah: A slave [non-Jewish] who has been made
   prisoner and ransomed [by other Jews] in order to remain a
   slave, remains a slave [this will be explained by the Gemara];
   In order to be free, becomes free.  R. Simon ben Gamaliel
   says: In the one case as in the other, he remains a slave.

   Gemara: With which case do we concern ourselves?  If it
   is before the renunciation of the right of possession [by the
   first master, who has bought him from the hands of the non-
   Jew], ransomed in order to become free, why should he not
   remain a slave? It is, then, after this renunciation.  But,
   bought to be a slave, why should he remain a slave?
   [Understand: of his first master; why should he remain a
   slave, since there was a renunciation by which rights upon him
   as a slave have been renounced?].  Abaye says: The case under
   debate is always that In which the first owner has not yet
   renounced his rights upon the slave, and if the slave has been
   bought to remain a slave [on condition of being restored to
   his first master, or even upon condition of belonging to him
   who bought him], he remains the slave of his first master [the
   second, in fact, has not acquired him, for he knows that his
   master remains his master, until the master has given him up;
   he would, therefore, be stealing the slave]; if the slave is
   ransomed to become free, he is the slave neither of the first
   nor of the second; not of the second, since he ransomed the
   slave to set him free, nor of the first who possibly abandoned
   him and did not buy him back.  R. Simon b. Gamaliel, on the
   other hand, says: In one case as in the other he remains a
   slave; in fact, he admits that just as it is a duty to ransom
   free men, so it is a duty to ransom slaves [it is not,
   therefore, to be supposed that the first master would have
   abstained from buying back his slave].

   Raba says: We are always dealing with the case in which the
   first master has already renounced his right of possession.
   And if the slave has been ransomed in order to be a slave, he
   serves his second master [farther on the question will be
   asked, from whom the second master bought him]; if ransomed to
   be free, he serves neither his first nor his second master;
   not his second master, since he bought the slave to give him
   his liberty; and not the first, since he had already renounced
   the slave.  R. Simon b. Gamaliel, on the other hand, says: In
   the one case as in the other he remains a slave [of his first
   master], according to the principle of Hezekiah, who said: Why
   is it admitted that he remains a slave in either case?  So
   that it should not be possible for any slave whatsoever to
   deliver himself up to the enemy and thus render himself
   independent of his master.

   It is objected: R. Simon b. Gamaliel [we have been taught]
   said to his colleagues: "Just as it is a duty to ransom free
   men, so it is a duty to ransom slaves." This Baraita is to be
   understood according to Abaye, who takes it that there had
   been no renunciation [who applies the Mishnah to the case in
   which there has been previous renunciation; then the first
   paragraph of the Mishnah is motived by the abstention of the
   owner, who did not ransom his slave]: we thus explain to
   ourselves the expression "just as" [of R. Simon b. Gamaliel,
   for he does not suppose that the owner abstained, granted that
   it is a duty to ransom the slave].  But, according to Raba,
   who takes it that there has been renunciation [who applies the
   Mishnah to the case in which there was renunciation, and the
   first paragraph of the Mishnah is motived by the abstention of
   the owner, which is equivalent to a renunciation], this "just
   as" [of R. Simon b. Gamaliel, what does it signify?], since R.
   Simon b. Gamaliel bases his opinion upon the principle of
   Hezekiah [since the reason of R. Simon b. Gamaliel is the
   principle of Hezekiah: "so that the slave should not go and
   deliver himself up to the enemy"].  Raba replies, etc.,
   (Gittin 37b).

What one least expects to find in a Talmudist is historic
veracity.  Yet it is not lacking in Rashi, either because he was
guided by ancient and authentic traditions, or because he was
inspired by his clear - sightedness, or - but this is apt to have
been the case less frequently because he was well served by his
power of divination.  Rashi took good care not to confound the
different generations of Tannaim and Amoraim, or the different
rabbis in each.  He knew the biographies of all of them, the
countries of their birth, their masters and disciples, the period
and the scene of their activity.  Such knowledge was necessary
not only in order to grasp the meaning of certain passages, but
also in order to decide which opinion was final and had the force
of law.  Rashi also tried to understand, and in turn render
comprehensible, the customs and the by-gone institutions to which
the Talmud alludes.  He gave information concerning the
composition of the Mishnah and the Gemara, and the relations of
the Mishnahs and the Baraitas.  Because it contains all these
data, Rashi's commentary is still a very valuable historical
document, and Jewish historians of our days continue frequently
to invoke its authority.

Yet in spite of this scattered information, the commentary is
marked by certain deficiencies which indicate a deficiency in his
mental make-up.  When he explains an historical passage of the
Talmud, he is incapable of criticising [criticizing sic] it.
Apart from the fact that he would not believe legend to be
legend, nor the Gemara capable of mistakes, he had neither the
knowledge nor the scientific culture requisite for an historian.
To be convinced of this, it is necessary to read only the
following passage, in which the Talmud characteristically relates
the final events before the downfall of the Jewish State.  As
before, I reproduce the Gemara along with the commentary of
Rashi; but in translating the Gemara I anticipate what Rashi
says.  It must be borne in mind that Rashi explains in Hebrew -
in rabbinical Hebrew - text written in Aramaic.

   R. Johanan says: what signifies this verse (Prov. xxviii. 14):
   "Happy is the man that feareth always [who trembles before the
   future and says to himself: provided that no misfortune befall
   me if I do such and such a thing], but he that hardeneth his
   heart shall fall into mischief"?  For Kamza and Bar Kamza
   Jerusalem was destroyed; for a cock and a hen the Royal
   Tower[110] was destroyed; for the side of a litter (rispak
   (Resh Yod Samech Pe Qof)) [the side of a lady's chariot,
   called reitwage (?) in German, as is said in the
   chapter "The mother and her young":[111]  If thou yokest the
   mule to the litter rispak (Resh Yod Samech Pe Qof) for
   me], Betar was destroyed.  For Kamza and Bar Kamza [names of
   two Jews] Jerusalem was destroyed.  A man whose friend was
   Kamza [the name of whose friend was Kamza] and whose enemy was
   Bar Kamza prepared a banquet.  He said to his servant: "Go,
   invite Kamza."  The servant went to Bar Kamza.  Finding him
   seated, the host said: "Since this man is (thou art) my enemy,
   why comest thou hither?  Go, leave me."  The other replied:
   "Since I have come, let me remain here, and I will give the
   price of what I shall eat and drink."  "No," he answered [I
   will not let thee remain here].  "I will give thee," he [the
   other] insisted, "the half of the cost of the banquet."  "No."
   "I will give thee the price of the entire banquet."  But he
   took him by the arm, and made him rise and go out.  [The
   expelled man] said to himself: "Since the rabbis present at
   this scene did not protest, it must be that it pleased them.
   Very well!  I shall go and eat the morsel [of calumny] upon
   them in the presence of the governor."  He went to the
   governor and said to Caesar: "The Jews are revolting against
   thee."  Caesar replied: "Who told it thee?"  "Send to them,"
   replied the other, "a victim [to sacrifice it upon the altar;
   for we deduce from the repetition of the word "man" (in Lev.
   xvii.) that the non-Jews can offer voluntary sacrifices, like
   the Israelites]; thou wilt see if they sacrifice it." Caesar
   sent a calf without a blemish, but in transit a blemish
   appeared on the large lip [the upper lip], others say on the
   lid of the eye (dokin (Dalet Vav Qof Yod Final_Nun))
   ["tela,"[112] as in Is. xl. 22 Dok (Dalet Vav Qof)],
   which constitutes a blemish for us, but not for the Romans
   [they could offer it to their gods on the high places,
   provided it did not lack a limb].  The rabbis were in favor of
   sacrificing the animal in the interest of public peace.  Rabbi
   Zechariah b. Eukolos objected: "It will be said that you offer
   imperfect victims upon the altar."  Then they wanted to kill
   [the messenger] so that he could not return and report what
   had happened.  R. Zechariah objected: "It will be said that he
   who causes a blemish on a victim should be condemned to death"
   [it will be thought that because he caused a blemish on the
   victim, and because he thus trangressed [transgressed sic] the
   prohibition: "There shall be no blemish therein" (Lev. xxii.
   21), he was put to death].  R. Johanan concluded: It is this
   complaisance of R. Zechariah b. Eukolos [who did not wish to
   put the messenger to death] which destroyed our Temple, burned
   our Sanctuary, and exiled us from the land of our fathers
   (Gittin 55b)

This passage is less historic than legendary in character; it
forms part of the Haggadic element of the Talmud,  In the
explanation of the Haggadah Rashi has preserved its method, so
wise, yet so simple.  Others have attempted to be more profound
in interpreting it allegorically.  Rashi, with his fund of common
sense, was nearer to the truth.  His conception of the naive
tales and beliefs was in itself naive.  Moreover, before his time
it was the legislative part of the Talmud that received almost
exclusive attention.  The rabbis occupied themselves with
questions of practice and with making decisions, and they tried
to unknot the entanglements of the discussions for the sake of
extracting the norm, the definitive law.  This is the case with
Hananel, Rashi's predecessor, as well as with Alfasi,[113]
Rashi's contemporary.  Although, as we shall see, the French
rabbi had studied the Talmud for the sake of practical needs, he
adopted, so to speak, a more disinterested point of view.  He did
not pretend to write a manual of Talmudic law, but an
uninterrupted running commentary for the use of all who wanted to
make a consecutive study of the Talmud.

In the treatise Baba Batra (73a), the Gemara having
exhausted the few observations it had to present upon the
Mishnah, which speaks of the sail of a vessel and its rigging,
falls back upon some popular narratives, "Tales of the Sea."

   Raba said [all the facts that will be recounted are in
   illustration of the verse (Psalms civ. 24), "O Lord, how
   manifold are thy works!"  Some of the facts show that the
   righteous are recompensed in the world to come, or they serve
   to explain the verses of Job that speak of large birds, of the
   Behemot, and of the large cetaceans; in fact, "even the simple
   conversations of the rabbis must be instructive"]: Some
   sailors reported to me what follows: "The wave which engulfs
   [which tries to engulf] a vessel seems to have at its head
   [seems to be preceded by] a ray of white fire [a white flame,
   which is a wicked angel].  But we beat it with rods (alvata
   (Alef Lamed Vav Vav Tav Alef) [rods, as in these words
   'neither with a rod ((Alef Lamed He)) nor with a lance'
   in the treatise Shabbat (63a)], which bear these words graven
   on them: 'I am He who is, Yah, Eternal Zebaet, Amen, Selah'
   [such is the lesson of the text[114] and then it is laid to
   rest" [from its agitation].

   Raba recounts: Some sailors related to me that which follows:
   "Between one wave and another wave there are three hundred
   parasangs[115] [it is necessary to give us this detail, for
   later on it will be said that the one wave raised its voice to
   speak to the other; now, one can make oneself heard at a
   distance of three hundred parasangs], and the height of a wave
   is likewise three hundred parasangs.  Once we were on a voyage,
   when a wave raised us [up to the heavens, higher than its own
   height; or the heat of the heavens is so great that it extends
   to a distance which one could traverse in nearly five hundred
   years, the distance of the heavens from the earth[116], so
   high that we saw the encampment [the dwelling] of a little
   star [of the smallest of stars]; it appeared so large to us,
   that one would have been able to sow on its surface forty
   measures of mustard seed [which is larger than other seeds],
   and if it had raised us more, we would have been burned by its
   fumes [by the heat of the star].  Then a wave raised its voice
   [that is, called, just as it is said, "Deep calleth unto deep"
   (Psalms xlii. 7); or it may mean angels placed over the stars]
   and said to its companion:  'My companion, have you left
   something in the world which you have not swallowed up [for it
   had lifted itself so high, you might have thought it had
   sprung from the bed of the sea and had engulfed the world]?
   In that case I will go destroy it' [on account of the sins of
   man] - It said [the one wave replied to the other]: 'Behold
   the might of the Lord: I cannot by one thread [by the breadth
   of a thread] go beyond the sand '[that is to say: I cannot
   leave the bed of the sea]; thus it is said [it is the Gemara
   that cites this verse]: 'Fear ye not me?' saith the Lord.
   'Will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the
   sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it
   cannot pass it?'" (Jer. v. 22).

   Raba says: Hormin appeared to me, the son of Lillit [Hormin
   with an "n," such is the text which should be adopted, and
   which I get from my father; but I have learned from my masters
   that it should be read "Hormiz," with a "z," a word which
   means demon, as we see in Sanhedrin (39a) "the lower
   half of thy body belongs to Hormiz[117], running along the
   edge of the wall of Mahuza [This account makes us realize the
   goodness of God who loves his creatures and does not permit
   evil spirits to injure them; it also teaches us that one must
   not risk oneself alone on a voyage]; at the same moment a
   horseman galloped by [without thinking of evil], and he could
   not catch up to him [for the demon ran so quickly, that the
   horseman could not think of overtaking him].

In conclusion I will give one more extract, from the last chapter
of Sanhedrin (92b), which contains a vast number of
curious legends.

   Our rabbis taught: Six miracles occurred on that day [the day
   on which Nebuchadnezzar threw the friends of Daniel into the
   furnace].  These are: the furnace raised itself [for it was
   sunk in the ground, like a lime-kiln; on that day it raised
   itself to the surface of the ground, so that all could see the
   miracle]; the furnace was rent in two [a part of its walls was
   riven so that all could look in];  humak suro (He Vav Mem
   Qof, Samech Vav Resh Vav) [its height was lowered, as in
   the phrase suro ka (Samech Vav Resh Vav, Resh Ayin)
   (Kiddushin 82a); another reading humak duso (He Vav
   Mem Qof, Dalet Vav Samech Vav) like yesodo (Yod Samech
   Vav Dalet Vav) its base was thrown.  This is the
   explanation taught me by R. Jacob ben Yakar; but my
   master[118] reads  (He Vav Samech Qof, Samech Yod Dalet,
   Vav): the lime of the furnace melted as a result of the
   great heat.  Such are the explanations of my masters.  It was
   from the heat thrown out by the lime that those men were
   consumed who cast Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the
   burning fiery furnace and that the golden image of the king
   was transformed before his eyes]; the image of the king was
   transformed before his eyes; the four empires were consumed by
   the flames [the kings and their subjects, who aided
   Nebuchadnezzar in casting Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into
   the fire]; finally, Ezekiel brought the dead to life in the
   plain of Dura.[119]

What has been said up to this point indicates the position taken
by Rashi with regard to the Halakah.  Unlike Maimonides in his
commentary of the Mishnah, he did not as a rule concern himself
with the fixation of legal principles and practice, or with the
definite solution of questions under controversy.  He confined
himself to his task of commentator and interpreter.  The brevity
he imposed upon himself made it an obligation not to enter into
long and detailed discussions; for he would have had to dispose
of varying opinions and justify his choice.  He carried his
principle to such an extent that it could be said of him, "Rashi
is a commentator, he does not make decisions."[120]

But there are numerous exceptions to the rule.  Often Rashi deems
it necessary to state a definite solution, either because it has
been the subject of controversies on the part of his masters, or
because it was difficult to separate it from the rest of the
discussion, or because it served as the point of departure for
another discussion.  Finally, the explanation of such and such a
passage of the Talmud presupposes the solution of a question,
unless the solution changes with the explanation of the passage.
When the question is left in suspense by the Talmud, Rashi
usually determines it in the strictest sense; but when it
receives contradictory solutions, he either falls back upon
analogous cases or adduces rules of Talmudic methodology.  Often,
however, his conclusion is nothing else than a statement of the
practice observed in his time.

In all these cases Rashi's authority carries great weight; so
much so, in fact, as to overbalance that of Alfasi and
Maimonides.  Frequent appeal was made to it by casuists of a later
date, and it would have been invoked still oftener had his
Decisions been gathered together, like those of the Spanish and
German rabbis, instead of having been scattered through a large
number of compilations.

       *       *       *       *       *

By reason of these and other qualities the Talmudic commentaries
of Rashi without doubt outweigh his Biblical commentaries.  I
should be inclined flatly to contradict the opinion ascribed to
Jacob Tam, Rashi's grandson: "So far as my grandfather's
commentary on the Talmud is concerned, I might do as much, but it
would not be in my power to undertake his commentary upon the
Pentateuch."  The Biblical commentary is not always absolutely
sure and certain, and the defects are marked.  The Talmudic
commentary remains a model and indispensable guide.  Although
numerous Biblical commentaries have been composed with Rashi's as
a standard and in order to replace it, no one has dared provide a
substitute for his Talmudic commentary.  From an historical point
of view, the value of the Talmudic commentary is no less great.
At the same period, in three countries, three works were composed
which complemented one another and which came to form the basis
of Talmudic studies.  At the time when Rashi commented on the
Talmud, Nathan ben Jehiel[121] composed the Talmudic lexicon,
which is still used to a great extent, while Isaac Alfasi in his
Halakot codified all the Talmudic regulations.  Of the three
works the first was the most celebrated.  The exaggerated
statement was made of Rashi, that "without him the Talmud would
have remained a closed book."[122]  And Menahem ben Zerah[123]
said: "There was no one so illuminating, and so concise as Rashi
in the commentary he wrote as if by Divine inspiration.  Without
him, the Babylonian Talmud would have been forgotten in Israel."
The echo of this enthusiastic opinion is heard in the words of
the Hebrew scholar H. L. Strack, a Christian, and the modern
Jewish scholar A. Darmesteter.  The one says: "Rashi wrote a
commentary which the Jews hold in extraordinarily high regard and
which all must concede is of the greatest value."  Darmesteter
wrote: "Suppress the commentary of Rashi, that masterwork of
precision and clearness, and even for a trained Talmudist, the
Talmud becomes almost enigmatical."

Can more be said?  The commentary has become, in brief,
The Commentary, the Commentary par excellence, Konteros

                          CHAPTER VIII

                          THE RESPONSA

In the previous chapter we saw that Rashi, though chiefly
concerned with the mere explanation of the Talmud, nevertheless
intrenched sometimes upon the domain of practice.  It must not be
forgotten that at that epoch the life of the Jews was based upon,
and directed by, rabbinical jurisprudence and discipline. The
study of the Talmud was taken up for the sake of finding in it
rules for the daily conduct of existence.  Apart from certain
questions purely theoretic in character and having no practical
application, Talmudic studies, far from being confined to the
school, responded to the needs of life and were of real, vital
interest.  But since the Talmud is not allcomprehensive, the
rabbis in drawing inspiration from its rules, from precedents it
had already established, and from analogous instances contained
in it, were justified in rendering decisions upon new points
arising out of circumstances as they occurred.  Thus, measures
are cited passed by Rashi upon the payment of taxes, Christian
wine, the Mezuzah, phylacteries, etc.  These measures
resulted not so much from his own initiative as from the requests
preferred to him by his disciples, or by other rabbis, or even by
private individuals.

The Responsa addressed by rabbinical authorities to individuals
or to communities who had submitted difficult cases and questions
to them for solution, constitute a special genus of post-Biblical
literature.  Not to mention their legislative value, how precious
they are as documents in proof of the fact that no distances were
too long, no obstacles too great to prevent the people from
obtaining the opinion of a scholar!  They even sent special
messengers to him, when there were no favoring circumstances,
such as a fair at the rabbi's place of residence, or a journey to
be undertaken thither for other reasons than the purpose of the
consultation.  Thus lively relations were established among the
Jews of the most widely separated countries; and an active
correspondence went on between scholars of Babylon, Northern
Africa, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

The circle of Rashi's connections, however, was limited to France
and Lorraine.  His chief correspondents were his teachers and
their disciples.[124] It was only after Rashi's day, when
communication between the Christian and the Moslem worlds became
more frequent, that rabbinical authorities were appealed to from
all the corners of Europe and Africa.

Though his correspondents were not so widely scattered, the
subjects touched upon by Rashi in his Responsa are very varied in
character.  He was consulted on the meaning of a Biblical or a
Talmudic passage, on the text of the liturgy, on rules of
grammar, on Biblical chronology, and, especially, on new cases
arising in the practice of religion.  These Responsa, inspired,
so to speak, by actualities, by the come and go of daily affairs,
introduce the reader to the material and intellectual life of the
Jews of the time, besides furnishing interesting information
concerning the master's method.

One of the questions most frequently agitated regarded wine of
the Gentiles, the drinking of which was prohibited to the Jews
because it was feared that the wine had been employed for
idolatrous libations.  Cases of this kind turned up every day,
because the Jews occupied themselves with viticulture[125] and
maintained constant communication with the Christians.  Rashi
showed himself rather liberal.  Though, of course, forbidding
Jews to taste the wine, he permitted them to derive other
enjoyment from it, the Christians not being comparable to the
pagans, since they observed the Noachian laws.  Rashi's grandson,
Samuel ben Meir, explicitly states in Rashi's name that the laws
set forth by the Talmud against the Gentiles do not apply to the

The brother of Samuel, Jacob Tam, tells us that Rashi forbade the
payment of a tax by using a sum of money left on deposit by a
Christian.  This decision, Jacob Tam adds, was intended to apply
to the whole kingdom and, in fact, was accepted throughout
France.  This testifies not only to the great authority Rashi
enjoyed, but also to the uprightness, the honesty of his
character.  Another of his qualities becomes apparent in a second
Responsum treating of the relations between Jews and Christians.
They carried on trade with each other in wheat and cattle.  Now,
the Mishnah forbids these transactions.  "When this prohibition
was promulgated," wrote Rashi, "the Jews all dwelt together and
could carry on commerce with one another; but at present, when we
are a minority in the midst of our neighbors, we cannot conform
to so disastrous a measure."  Rashi, it is therefore evident,
knew how to take into account the needs of the moment, and
accommodate rules to conditions.

Relations, then, between the Jews and their fellow citizens were
cordial.  The horizon seemed serene.  But if one looked closer,
one could see the gathering clouds slowly encroaching upon the
calm sky, clouds which were soon to burst in a storm of bloody
hate and murderous ferocity.  Although the change came about
imperceptibly and the Jews enjoyed the calm preceding the
tempest, despite this and despite themselves, they entertained a
smothered distrust of the Christians.  For instance, they used
ugly expressions to designate objects the Christians venerated.
The Christians responded in kind.  The ecclesiastical works of
the time are full of insults and terms of opprobrium aimed at the
Jews.  If one reads the narrative of the Crusades, during which
the blood of innocent massacred Jews flowed in streams, one must
perforce excuse, not so much real hostility toward the
Christians, as the employment of malicious expressions directed
against their worship.  The feeling that existed was rather the
heritage of tradition, the ancient rivalry of two sister
religions, than true animosity.  As for tolerance, no such thing
yet existed.  It was difficult at that time for people to
conceive of benevolence and esteem for those who professed a
different belief.  The effect of the First Crusade upon the inner
life of the communities was to create anomalous situations within
families, necessitating the intervention of rabbinical
authorities.  The Responsa of Rashi dealing with martyrs and
converts no doubt sprang from these sad conditions.  A woman,
whose husband died during the persecution, married again without
having previously claimed her jointure from the heirs of her dead
husband; but she wanted to insist on her rights after having
contracted the new union.  Rashi, in a Responsum, the conclusions
of which were attacked after his death by several rabbis,
declared that the claim of the woman was entitled to

The echo of the Crusades is heard in other instances. I have
already spoken of the liberal, tolerant attitude[126] assumed by
Rashi in regard to the unfortunates who deserted the faith of
their fathers in appearance only, and sought refuge in that of
their persecutors.  He excused the hypocrisy of these weak
beings, who accepted baptism only externally and in their hearts
remained Jews.

In general, so far as questions in regard to lending on interest,
to giving testimony, and to marriage relations were concerned,
Rashi held the apostate to be the same as the Jew.  He was once
asked if the testimony of an apostate was valid in law.  "It is
necessary," he replied "to distinguish in favor of those who
follow the Jewish law in secret and are not suspected of
transgressing the religious precepts which the Christians oblige
them to transgress outwardly.  At bottom they fear God.  They
weep and groan over the constraint put upon them, and implore
pardon of God.  But if there is a suspicion that they committed
transgressions without having been forced to do so, even if they
have repented with all their heart, and all their soul, and all
their might, they cannot bring evidence ex post facto concerning
facts which they witnessed before they repented."

Rashi, then, was indulgent above all toward those who had been
converted under the compulsion of violence, and who sincerely
regretted their involuntary or imposed apostasy.  On one
occasion, he was asked if the wine belonging to such unfortunates
should be forbidden, though they had proved their return to the
Jewish faith by a long period of penitence.  Rashi replied:  "Let
us be careful not to take measures for isolating them and thereby
wounding them.  Their defection was made under the menace of the
sword, and they hastened to return from their wanderings."
Elsewhere Rashi objects to recalling to them their momentary
infidelity.  A young girl was married while she and her
bridegroom were in the state of forced apostasy. Rashi declared
the union to be valid, for "even if a Jew becomes a convert
voluntarily, the marriage he contracts is valid.  All the more is
this true in the case of those who are converted by force, and
whose heart always stays with God, and especially, as in the
present case, if they have escaped as soon as they could from the
faith they embraced through compulsion."

Since internal union is the surest safeguard against persecution
from without, Rashi earnestly exhorted his brethren to shun
intestine strife.  "Apply yourselves to the cultivation of
peace," he once wrote.  "See how your neighbors are troubled by
the greatest evils and how the Christians delight in them.
Concord will be your buckler against envy and prevent it from
dominating you."  In a community, doubtless that of Chalons-
sur-Saone, in Burgundy,[127] there were two families that
quarrelled [quarreled sic] continually.  The community had
intervened to stop the strife, but one of the two families
declared in advance that it would not submit to its decision.  A
member of the other family, irritated, reproached one of his
enemies with having been baptized.  Now Rabbenu Gershom, under
penalty of excommunication, had forbidden people to recall his
apostasy to a converted Jew.  Rashi was asked to remove this
prohibition; but he declined, not wishing to intervene in the
internal administration of a strange community.  "What am I that
I should consider myself an authority in other
places?... I am a man of little importance, and my
hands are feeble, like those of an orphan.  If I were in the
midst of you, I would join with you in annulling the
interdiction." From this it is evident that the strongest weapon
of the rabbinical authorities against the intractable was, as in
the Church, excommunication; but that sometimes individuals
asserted, and even swore in advance, that they would not yield to
the decree against them.  Rashi considered that this oath, being
contrary to law, was null and void.

Rashi, guided by the same feelings, was pitiless in his
condemnation of those who fomented trouble, who sowed discord in
families, sometimes in their own households.  A man, after having
made promise to a young girl, refused to marry her and was upheld
in his intrigues by a disciple of Rashi.  Rashi displayed great
severity toward the faithless man for his treatment of the girl,
and he was not sparing even in his denunciation of the
accomplice.  Another man slandered his wife, declaring that she
suffered from a loathsome disease, and through his lying charges
he obtained a divorce from her.  But the truth came to light, and
Rashi could not find terms sufficiently scathing to denounce a
man who had recourse to such base calumnies and sullied his own
hearth.  "He is unworthy," Rashi wrote, "to belong to the race of
Abraham, whose descendants are always full of pity for the
unfortunate; and all the more for a woman to whom one is bound in
marriage.  We see that even those who do not believe in God
respect the purity of the home, - and here is a man who has
conducted himself so unworthily toward a daughter of our Heavenly
Father."  After indicating what course is to be pursued in case
of divorce, Rashi concluded:  "But it would be better if this man
were to make good his mistake and take back his wife, so that God
may take pity on him, and he may have the good fortune to build
up his home again and live in peace and happiness."

The Responsa, providing us, as we have seen, with interesting
information concerning Rashi's character, are no less important
for giving us knowledge of his legal and religious opinions.  As
a result of the poise of his nature, and in the interest of
order, he attached great importance to traditional usages and
customs. Innovations are dangerous, because they may foment
trouble; to abide by custom, on the contrary, is the surest
guarantee of tranquillity [tranquility sic].  In casuistical
questions not yet solved, he did not adopt as his principle the
one prevailing with so many rabbis, of rendering the strictest
decision; on the contrary, in regard to many matters, he was more
liberal than his masters or his colleagues.  Nevertheless, he
congratulated those whose interpretation in certain cases was
more severe than his own.  In his scrupulous piety, he observed
certain practices, although he refused to set them up as laws for
others, since, one of his disciples tells us, he did not wish to
arrogate to himself the glory of instituting a rule for the
future.  He contented himself with saying: "Blessed be he who
does this."  Since he stuck to the rigid observance of religion,
and feared to open the door to abuses, he advised his pupils not
to give too much publicity to certain of his easy interpretations
of the Law.

If he did not approve of laxity, he had still less sympathy with
the extreme piety bordering on folly of those whom he called
"crazy saints."  Enemy to every exaggeration, he blamed those
who, for example, imposed upon themselves two consecutive fast
days.  Once when the Fast of Esther fell on a Thursday, a woman
applied to Rashi for advice.  She told him she was compelled to
accompany her mistress on a trip, and asked him whether she might
fast the next day.  Rashi in his Responsum first recalled the
fact that the Fast of Esther was not mentioned either in the
Bible or in the Talmud, and then declared that the over-
conscientious Jews who fast on Friday in order to make a feast
day follow close upon a fast day, deserve to be called fools who
walk in darkness.[128]

Finally, although Rashi was very scrupulous in matters of
religion, he was tolerant toward faults and failings in others.
Sinners and, as I have shown, even apostates found grace with
him.  He liked to repeat the Talmudic saying to which, in
generalizing it, he gave a new meaning, "An Israelite, even a
sinful one, remains an Israelite."

There is little to say concerning the style of Rashi's Responsa.
In the setting forth and the discussion of the questions under
consideration, his usual qualities are present - precision,
clearness, soberness of judgment. But the preambles - sometimes a
bit prolix - are written after the fashion prevailing among the
rabbis of the time, in a complicated, pretentious style, often
affecting the form of rhymed prose and always in a poetic jargon.
With this exception, the Responsa do not betray the least
straining after effect, the least literary refinement.  The very
fact that Rashi did not himself take the precaution to collect
his Responsa, proves how little he cared to make a show with
them, though, it is true, the custom of gathering together one's
Responsa did not arise until later, originating in Spain, and
passing on to Germany. As I shall immediately proceed to show, it
was Rashi's disciples who collected the Responsa of their master
and preserved them for us, at least in part.

                           CHAPTER IX


After having passed in review the works which are the result of
Rashi's own labor and which have come down to us in the shape in
which they emerged from his hands, or nearly so, several works
remain to be described that present a double character; they did
not spring directly from Rashi's pen, but were written by his
pupils under his guidance, or, at least, as the result of his
inspiration and influence.  They have reached us in altered form,
amplified, and sometimes improved, sometimes spoiled by various
authors.  The confusion reigning in these works has contributed
toward an inexact appreciation of their function.  From the first
they were meant to be compilations, collections of rules, rather
than works having a specified object.

To point out the fact once again, Rashi's pupils became his
collaborators; and, it must be added, they established a
veritable cult of their master.  They neglected nothing
concerning him; they carefully noted and piously recorded his
slightest deed and gesture, on what day they had seen him, under
what circumstances, how he felt that day, and how he conducted
himself at the table.  When a case similar to some previous one
arose, they contented themselves with referring to the former and
reproducing the discussion to which it had given rise.

It is to this veneration, bordering on religious devotion, that
we owe the preservation of Rashi's Responsa and Decisions.  Some
entered into the collections of the Babylonian Geonim, - a fact
which shows how highly people regarded the man who was thus
ranked with the greatest rabbinical authorities, - but most of
them formed the basis of several independent works: the Sefer
ha-Pardes (Book of Paradise), the Sefer ha-Orah (Book
of Light?), the Sefer Issur-we-Heter (Book of Things
Prohibited and Things Permitted), and the Mahzor Vitry.
The first work was edited at the beginning, the last, at the end,
of the nineteenth century, and part of the second was introduced
into the first by the editor of the first.  The whole of the
second has just been published by Mr. Solomon Buber.  The third
work, which offers many resemblances to the Mahzor Vitry,
is still in manuscript; but Mr. Buber has recently promised us
its publication in the near future, as well as a Siddur,
or ritual, of Rashi, related to the Mahzor Vitry and to a
Sefer ha-Sedarim.

In all these collections it is sometimes difficult to determine
what is Rashi's handiwork, or which of his pupils is responsible
for certain passages.  The composition of the works is, in fact,
original and merits brief characterization.

The Sefer ha-Pardes, though commonly attributed to Rashi
himself, cannot possibly have been his work, since it contains
rules, decisions, and Responsa made by several of his
contemporaries, and even by some of his successors.  Among others
are additions by Joseph Ibn Plat or his disciples (second half of
the twelfth century).  But in respect of one of its constituent
elements, it was a creation of Rashi's.  It was formed, in fact,
by the fusion of two collections.  The author of the one
containing the customs of the three cities of Speyer, Worms, and
Mayence, must have been one of the Machirites; while the author
of the other, comprising Rashi's practices and Responsa, must
have been his disciple Shemaiah.[129]

The Sefer ha-Pardes is a widely-read book, and it has been
used, sometimes under other titles, by the greater number of
legal compilations made in France and Germany.  It passed through
various redactions, and the one now extant is not the most

The Sefer ha-Orah, the redaction of which is sometimes
attributed, though wrongly so, to Nathan haMachiri, is a
compilation of several works, which seem to have been written in
Spain at the beginning of the fourteenth century.  It consists of
two principal elements; the first, German in origin, is similar
to the Pardes now extant; the second is the work of the Spaniard,
Judah ben Barzillai, of Barcelona (twelfth century).  It is, of
course, in the first that one finds fragments of works which date
back to the disciples of Rashi.

The Mahzor Vitry is a more or less homogeneous work.  It
contains rules of jurisprudence and of religious practice,
Responsa by Rashi, by his predecessors, and by his
contemporaries, prayers and liturgic poems, "Minor" Talmudic
treatises, the whole divided into chapters following the yearly
cycle, and bearing upon the various circumstances of life.  The
work contains many additions due to Isaac ben Durbal, or Durbalo,
who visited the countries of Eastern Europe and was the disciple
of Rabbenu Tam (about 1150).  He is wrongly considered to be the
redactor of the Mahzor Vitry.  The author of the work is,
without doubt, Simhah ben Samuel, of Vitry, a disciple of Rashi
(about 1100), who availed himself, moreover, of the works of
other pupils of the master.

The Mahzor Vitry is of great importance not only for the
historian of Rashi, but also for the historian of Franco - Jewish
culture and literature at that time.  The same may be said of the
Sefer ha-Pardes.  Yet this material must be used with the
utmost caution; for it has come to us in a sad condition,
disfigured by the compilers and copyists, who introduced elements
from various sources and different epochs.  The original works
disappeared during the persecutions and autos-da-fe which
followed one another in France and Germany. The redactions now
extant come from Spain and Italy.

These short analyses may give an idea of the collections not yet
edited; for they all stand in relation one with the other, and
are in great part formed of the same elements and derived from
the same material.

                            CHAPTER X


Almost immediately upon the birth of liturgical poetry in the
time of the Geonim, an illustrious representative arose in the
person of Eleazar ha-Kalir,[130] who came to exercise a profound
influence upon his successors, and in Rashi's day this poetry
attained a high degree of development.  That was the time when
Jews, instead of merely listening to the officiating minister,
commenced to accompany him with their voices in antiphonal

Like most of the rabbis of his time, Rashi wrote liturgical
poems, the number of which Zunz, with more or less surety, places
at seven.  Three are still preserved in some rituals.  According
to Luria, Rashi composed more than this number.

It is fair to question whether a Talmudist is fashioned to be a
poet, and whether it is possible for love of discussion and
dialectics to accord with poetic sensibility and imagination.
Indeed, the liturgical poetry of the Jews of France and Germany
has not the least artistic value.  It shows neither concern for
originality, nor knowledge of composition, and the poets were
strangers to the conception of art and beauty.  Moreover, they
imposed upon themselves rather complicated rules, the most simple
forms adopted being rhyme and acrostic. Sometimes they
accomplished veritable feats of mental gymnastics, whose merit
resided in the mere fact that a difficulty was overcome.  Too
often a play upon words or alliteration takes the place of
inspiration, and ideas give way to factitious combinations.

These defects disappear in a translation, which is all the more
acceptable for the very reason that it does not reproduce the
vivid coloring of the original. The following, recited on the
Fast of gedaliah  (az terem nimteju (Alef zayin,  Mem resh
Final_Mem, Nun mem Tav Het Vav)), may serve as an example.
Rashi uses certain Midrashim in it which describe the throne of
God and the heavenly court.  Such poetry as there is - and there
is some - is overlaid and submerged by the slow development of
the thought and the painfully detailed enumerations,  strongly
reminiscent of the Bible.  It should be said that the language of
Rashi is far simpler than that of his contemporaries.

   Before yet the clouds were gathered in a canopy,
   Before yet the earth was rounded as a sphere,
   Thou didst prepare seven in Thy abode:
   The sacred Law, the splendid throne, the backslider's return,
   Paradise in all its beauty, and insatiable hell,
   The atonement place for sacrificial offerings,
   And the resplendent name of him who delays to come because of
      all our sins.
   Two thousand years before our globe were these,
   Set as jewels in the sky, whence earthward gleamed their
   In the realms above they ready stand round Him enthroned
      between the Cherubim.
   Firm established is the heavenly throne for the King supreme
   Whose glory is shed upon all within His presence:
   By His right hand the Law engraved with flaming letters
   He caresses like a child beloved.
   Toward the south lies the ever-fragrant Garden,
   Hell with its ever-burning flames to the north,
   Eastward Jerusalem built on strong foundations,
   In the midst of it the sanctuary of God,
   And in the sanctuary the altar of expiation,
   Weighted with the corner-stone of the world,
   Whereon is graven the Messiah's holy name
   Beside the great Ineffable Name.
   In the centre [center sic] before Him who is the source of all
      blessings stands Repentance,
   The healing balm for the suffering and afflicted soul,
   Appointed to remove each blemish, array the repentant in
      unsoiled garments,
   And pour precious oil on the head of sorrowing sinners.
   Thus we all, both old and young, appear before Thee.
   Wash off our every taint, our souls refine from every sin.
   Backsliding children, we come to Thee as suppliants,
   Seeking Thee day by day with humble, urgent prayers.
   Account them unto us as blood and fat of offerings,
   Like sacrificial steers and rams accept our contrite words.
   O that our sins might be sunk in abysmal depths,
   And Thy brooding infinite mercy bring us near to Thee.

In the first part of this poem the imagination displayed cannot
be said to call forth admiration either by reason of fertility or
by reason of brilliance.  Any ordinary student of the Talmud and
the Midrash might have produced it.  Nevertheless Rashi awakens a
certain sort of interest, it may even be said that he touches the
emotions, when he pours out all his sadness before God, or rather
- for his grief is impersonal - the sadness of the Jew, the
humble sinner appealing to the mercy of God.  When his feelings
rise to their most solemn pitch, their strong pulsations visible
through the unaccustomed poetic garb, the cloak of learned
allusions drops of itself, and emotion is revealed under the
strata of labored expressions.  All the poems by Rashi belong
under the literary form called Selihot, penitential
psalms, recited on fast days.

What has been said of the first specimen quoted applies equally
to the next (Hashem Elohei Hatzevaot Bore Baolionim (Yod Yod,
Alef Lamed He Yod, He Tsadi Bet Alef Vav Tav, Bet Vav Resh Alef,
Bet Ayin Lamed Yod Vav Nun Yod Final_Mem)), for the eve of
the Day of Atonement. It would have been more effective, had
there been less emphasis and a more consecutive development of
the thought.

   ... Of all bereft we appear before Thee, --
   Thine is the justice, ours the sin, --
   Our faces flushed with shame we turn to Thee,
   And at Thy gates we moan like doves.
   Vouchsafe unto us a life of tranquil joy,
   Purge us of our stains, make us white and pure.
   O that our youthful faults might vanish like passing clouds!
   Renew our days as of old,
   Remove defilement hence, set presumptuous sins at naught;
   The purifying waters of truth sprinkle upon us,
   For we confess our transgressions, we rebellious, faithless

       *       *       *       *       *

   O that a contrite spirit, a broken, repentant heart
   Be acceptable to Thee as the fat of sacrifices!
   Accomplish for the children Thy promise to the fathers.
   From Thy celestial abode hearken unto us who cry to Thee!
   Strengthen the hearts of those inclined to pay Thee homage,
   Lend Thy ear unto their humble supplication.
   Yet once more rescue Thy people from destruction.
   Let Thy olden mercy speedily descend on them again,
   And Thy favored ones go forth from judgment justified, --
   They that hope for Thy grace and lean upon Thy loving-kindness.

The final specimen (tefilah lekadma (Tav Pe Lamed He, Lamed
Qof Dalet Mem Final_Nun) is still more pathetic in its
tearful contrition.  The last lines even rise to unusual beauty
when they point down a shining vista of happy, serene days.

   At morn we order our prayers, and wait to offer them to Thee.
   Not sacrificial rams we bring to Thee, but hearts contrite and
   O that the tribute of our lips might plead our cause,
   When suppliants we stand before Thy threshold, watching and
   The early dawn awakens us, and our faces are suffused with
   Our hearts beat fast, we whisper softly, hoarse and weary with
      calling on Thee.
   We are cast down, affrighted, -- Thy judgment comes.
   To Thy teaching we turned deaf ears,
   And unto evil were seduced.
   Rebellious were we, when Thou camest to guide us aright,
   And now we stand abashed with lowered eyes.

   Our ruin Thou didst long past see --
   Is Thy fiery wrath still unappeased?
   We sinned in days agone, we suffer now, our wounds are open,
   Thy oath is quite accomplished, the curse fulfilled.
   Though long we tarried, we seek Thee now, timid, anxious,
      --we, poor in deeds.
   Before we perish, once more unto Thy children join Thyself.
   A heavenly sign foretells Thy blessing shall descend on us.
   Brute force is shattered, and with night all round about,
      Thy affianced spouse, loving, yearning,
   Calls on Thy faithfulness; she pleads with her eyes, and asks,
   is still she Thine,
   Is hers Thy love for aye?

The uniformity and monotony of this poetry, it must be admitted,
weary the reader. The author never goes beyond a narrow circle of
ideas, and general ideas at that.  It is impossible to make out
whether the allusions are to contemporaneous events, the
persecutions connected with the First Crusade, for instance, or
whether they refer to the ancient, traditional wrongs and
sufferings. Nowhere is Rashi's poetry relieved by a touch of
personal bias. It cannot be denied, however, that the poems
testify to a fund of sincerity and enthusiasm, and that is
noteworthy in a period of literary decadence, when it often
happens that sincerity of sentiment fails by a good deal to find
sincere expression for itself. Esthetic inadequacy should by no
means be taken as synonymous with insincerity.  Rashi proves,
that without being an artist one can be swayed by emotion and
sway the emotions of others, particularly when the dominant
feeling is sadness.  "The prevailing characteristic of Rashi's
prayers," says Zunz, the first historian of synagogue poetry as
well as the first biographer of Rashi, "is profound sadness; all
of them are filled with bitter plaints."  Finally, if the
Selihot by Rashi fall far short of our idea and our ideal
of poetry, they at least possess the interest attaching to all
that relates to their illustrious author.

                            BOOK III

                     THE INFLUENCE OF RASHI

                           CHAPTER XI


                     OF THE JEWS FROM FRANCE

The preceding chapters show how voluminous and varied was Rashi's
work.  And yet we are far from possessing everything he wrote; a
number of texts have disappeared, perhaps are lost forever.  But
this fertility is not Rashi's sole literary merit.  If the
excellence of a work is to be measured not only by its intrinsic
value, but also by its historical influence, by the scientific
movement to which it has given the impulse, by the literature
which it has called into being, in short, by its general effect,
no work should receive a higher estimate than that of Rashi, for,
it may be said without exaggeration, no other work was ever the
occasion of so much comment and discussion, and none exerted an
influence so far reaching and enduring.  From the moment of their
appearance his writings spread rapidly, and were read with
enthusiasm.  After profoundly affecting his contemporaries, Rashi
continued to guide the movement he had started.  His influence
upon rabbinical literature is comparable only with that of
Maimonides.  Indeed, it was more wholesome than his.  The
Talmudic codex established by Maimonides aimed at nothing less
than to shut off the discussions and to give the oral law firm,
solid shape.  Rashi, on the contrary, safeguarded the rights of
the future, and gave his successors full play.  Again, not having
introduced into his work philosophic speculations, he was
shielded against criticism, and his renown was therefore more
immaculate than that of the author of the Mishneh Torah, who had
to undergo furious attacks.

Rashi dominates the entire rabbinical movement in France and
Germany.  Generally, the influence of a writer wanes from day to
day; but as for Rashi's, it may he said to have increased by
force of habit and as the result of events, and to have broadened
its sphere.  Limited at first to French, Lotharingian, and German
centres [centers sic] of learning, it soon extended to the south
of Europe, to Africa, and even to Asia, maintaining its force
both in the field of Biblical exegesis and of Talmudic

Since it is impossible to mention all the authors and works
following and preceding Rashi, it must suffice to point out some
characteristic facts and indispensable names in order to bring
into relief the vitality and expansive force of his achievement,
and to show how it has survived the ravages of time, and, what is
more, how it has overcome man's forgetfulness - edax tempus,
edacior homo.  We shall see that Rashi directed the course of
the later development at the same time that he summed up in his
work all that had previously been accomplished.

   "The example of a man as revered as Rashi for his piety, his
   character, and his immense learning was bound to make a
   profound and lasting impression upon his contemporaries.  His
   descendants and his numerous disciples, pursuing with equal
   zeal the study of the Talmud and that of Scriptures, took as
   their point of departure in either study the commentaries of
   their ancestor and master, to which they added their own
   remarks, now to enlarge upon and complete the first work, now
   to discuss it, refute it, and substitute new views.  Thus
   arose the Tossafot, or additional glosses upon the Talmud, and
   thus in the following generations arose new commentaries upon
   the Pentateuch or upon the entire Bible, in which the rational
   spirit evoked by Rashi assumed a more and more marked and
   exclusive form."[131]

Finally, Rashi's influence was not confined either within the
walls of the Jewries or within the frontiers of France, but it
radiated to foreign lands and to ecclesiastical circles.


It may be said without exaggeration that Rashi's Talmudic
commentary renewed rabbinical studies in France and in Germany.
It propagated knowledge of the Talmud there and multiplied the
academies.  In fact, schools were founded in all localities
containing Jewish communities no matter how insignificant; and it
is difficult for us to obtain any idea of the number and
importance of these "Faculties," scattered over the length and
breadth of Northern France, which thus became a very lively
centre [center sic] of Jewish studies and the chief theatre
[theater sic] of the intellectual activity of the Occidental
Jews.  Its schools eclipsed those of the Rhenish countries and
rivalled [rivaled sic] in glory those of Spain.

What in the first instance contributed to the success of the
movement begun by Rashi, is the fact that he moulded [molded sic]
numerous disciples - in this more fortunate than Maimonides, who
was unable to found a school and who sowed in unploughed land.
It was only with the lapse of time that his work little by little
made its way, while Rashi through his teaching exerted an
absolutely direct and, as it were, living influence.  Rashi's
authority was such that Troyes became the chief centre [center
sic] of studies.  Many pupils flocked to it and there composed
important works, casting into sure and permanent form the
intellectual wealth they had gathered while with their master.
They put the finishing touches to his work and labored to
complete it, even during his life, and as though under his

I have already spoken of Simhah ben Samuel de Vitry, author of
the liturgical and ritual collection, Mahzor Vitry.[132]
Among other disciples not so well known are Mattathias ben Moses,
of Paris, Samuel ben Perigoros, Joseph ben Judah, and Jacob ben
Simson (1123), who lived at Paris or Falaise and wrote Responsa
at the dictation of his master, and, besides commentaries, a
Mahzor, and an astronomic work.  He was in turn the master of
Jacob Tam.

Judah ben Abraham, of Paris, aided by suggestions from his
master, wrote a ceremonial for the Passover.  In carrying out his
task, he availed himself of the notes of his older fellow
disciple Simhah, and his collaborator was Shemaiah, who had
already worked on Rashi's commentary on Ezekiel.  Besides,
Shemaiah made additions to Rashi's Talmudic commentaries, and
composed several commentaries under his guidance.  He also
collected and edited Rashi's Decisions and Responsa, serving, as
it were, as Rashi's literary executor.  Moreover, he was a
relative of Rashi's, though the degree of kinship is not known,
the evidence of authors upon the subject being contradictory.
Some maintain he was Rashi's grandson, or son-in-law, or the son-
in-law of his sister; according to others - and this seems more
exact he was the father-in-law of a brother of Jacob Tam.

At all events, it was Rashi's relatives who contributed most to
his renown.  "In regard to his family Rashi enjoyed unexampled
good fortune," says Zunz.  "It was not only through his
disciples, but also through his family that the founder of
rabbinical literature in France and Germany established his
reputation, spread his works, and added to the lustre [luster
sic] of his name."  A fact which no doubt helped to assure the
direction of the studies made by Rashi's descendants, is that
they possessed the manuscripts written and corrected by their
ancestor; and these autographs were veritable treasures at a time
when books were rare and copies inexact.

One of Rashi's sons-in-law, Judah ben Nathan,[133] was a
scholarly and highly esteemed Talmudist.  At the suggestion of
his father-in-law, he completed Rashi's commentaries and
continued the work after Rashi's death, using as his chief aid
the oral explanations he had received from him.  The son of
Judah, Yomtob, was also a good Talmudist.

The other son-in-law, Meir ben Samuel (about 1065-1135), was
originally from the little town of Rameru,[134] which through him
and his sons became an important intellectual centre [center sic]
for more than a half century.  Meir was a distinguished scholar
whom his sons sometimes cite as an authority.  He wrote Responsa
in association with his master and father-in-law.  As I have
already stated, Meir ben Samuel married a daughter of Rashi,
Jochebed, by whom he had four sons and a daughter, Miriam, the
wife of Samuel of Vitry.  One of the sons, Solomon, has been
known to us for only about twelve years, although he had a
reputation as a Talmudic and Biblical scholar, chiefly the
latter, having received the surname of "father of grammarians."
His reputation, however, was eclipsed by that of his three
brothers, who have poetically been called the three vigorous
branches of the tree of which Rashi was the trunk.  These were
Samuel ben Meir, surnamed Rashbam, Jacob ben Meir, surnamed Jacob
Tam, or Rabbenu Tam, and finally Isaac ben Meir, surnamed Ribam.
The last, who lived without doubt at Rameru and there composed
Tossafot,[135] died during the life-time of his father,
leaving seven young children.  He did not equal his brothers
either in knowledge or renown.

Samuel ben Meir (about 1085-1158) studied under his grandfather.
As we have seen[136] he discussed exegetic questions with Rashi,
and went so far as to express opinions in his presence concerning
points of casuistry.  On Rashi's death, it seems, he assumed the
direction of the school at Troyes; but he was more prominently
identified with the academy which he, following in the steps of
his master, founded at Rameru, and which soon became prosperous.
It was at Rameru, too, that he wrote his valuable Talmudic
commentaries.[137]  Among his pupils are said to have been Isaac
ben Asher ha-Levi, of Speyer, and Joseph Porat ben Moses, known
also as Don Bendit.  Samuel ben Meir's was a bold, independent
spirit.  In some instances he sacrificed a Talmudic explanation
for the sake of one that seemed more natural to him.  In addition
he had a fair amount of scientific and philosophic knowledge, and
he was very productive in the field of literature.

But Rashbam's authority, if not his knowledge, was exceeded by
that of his younger brother Jacob.  Jacob Tam, born about 1100,
was still a very young child when Rashi died.  He studied under
the guidance of his father, on whose death he assumed the
direction of the academy of Rameru in his father's place.  Then
he went to Troyes, where he was surrounded by numerous pupils,
some from countries as distant as Bohemia and Russia.  One of his
best known disciples was Eliezer ben Samuel, of Metz (died about
1198), author of the Sefer Yereim (Book of the Pious).
Other pupils of his mentioned were Moses ben Abraham, of
Pontoise, to whom he wrote in particularly affectionate terms,
and Jacob of Orleans, a scholar held in high regard, who died at
London in 1189 in the riot that broke out the day of Richard I's
coronation.  A year later, in 1190, the liturgical poet and
Biblical commentator Yomtob de Joigny died at York.  It seems
that Jacob Tam, like his successors, had to suffer from the
popular hate and excesses.  In fact he tells how, on one
occasion, on the second day of Pentecost (possibly at the time of
the troubles resulting from the Second Crusade), he was robbed
and wounded, and was saved from death only through the
intervention of a lord.  The end of his life was saddened by the
auto-da-fe of Blois, at which numerous Jews suffered
martyrdom.  He perpetuated the memory of that occasion by
instituting a fast day.  He died in 1171, universally regretted
for his clear and accurate intellect, his piety, uprightness,
amiability, and modesty.  His contemporaries considered him the
highest rabbinical authority, and he was consulted by persons as
remote as in the south of France and the north of Spain.  He
possessed a remarkably original, broad yet subtle intellect, and
his writings display keen penetration and singular vigor of
thought.  He devoted himself chiefly to Biblical exegesis; but in
this domain he obtained a reputation less through the purely
exegetical parts than through the critical work in which he
defended the grammarian Menahem against the attacks of
Dunash.[138]  His liturgical compositions and the short poems
with which he sometimes prefaced his Responsa show that he was a
clever poet, an imitator of the Spaniards.  Abraham Ibn Ezra
while on his rovings in France was one of his correspondents.

However, Jacob Tam, or, to call him by his title of honor,
Rabbeun Tam, - in allusion to Gen. xxv. 27, where Jacob is
described as "tam," a man of integrity - owed his renown to his
Talmudic activity, which he exerted in an original line of work
though he was not entirely free from the influence of Rashi.  If
he was not the creator of a new sort of Talmudic literature, he
was at least one of its first representatives.  Either because he
considered the commentaries of his grandfather impossible to
imitate, or because he could not adapt himself to their
simplicity and brevity, he took pleasure in raising ingenious
objections against them and proposing original solutions.  These
explanations joined to his Decisions and Responsa were collected
by him in a work called Sefer ha-Yashar (Book of the
Just), of which he himself made two redactions.  The one we now
possess was put together - rather inaccurately - after the death
of the author according to the second recension.  The Sefer
ha-Yashar was used a great deal by later Talmudists. It may
be said to have inaugurated the form of literature called

As the word signifies, the Tossafot are "additional notes,"
"Novellae," upon the Talmud.  They display great erudition,
ingenuity, and forcible logic, and they represent a prodigious
effort of sharp analysis and hardbound dialectics.  The authors
of the Tossafot, the Tossafists, were marvellously [marvelously
sic] skilful [skillful sic] at turning a text about and viewing
it in all its possible meanings, at discovering intentions and
unforeseen consequences.  Their favorite method was to raise one
or more objections, to set forth one or more contradictions
between two texts, and then to propound one or more solutions,
which, if not marked by simplicity and verisimilitude, none the
less bear the stamp of singularly keen insight.  In their hands
the study of the Talmud became a sturdy course in intellectual
gymnastics.  It refined the intellect and exercised the sense of
logic.  Yet it would be a mistake to see in the Tossafot nothing
but the taste for controversy and love of discussion for the sake
of discussion.  The Tossafists, even more than Rashi, sought to
deduce the norm, especially the practical norm, from the Talmudic
discussions, and discover analogies permitting the solution of
new cases.  Thus, while Rashi's commentary is devoted to the
explanation of words, and, more generally, of the simple meaning
of the text, the Tossafot enter into a searching consideration of
the debates of the Talmud.  Moreover, Rashi composed short but
numerous notes, while the Tossafists wrote lengthier but less
consecutive commentaries.  At the same time one of Rashi's
explanations is a fragment of the Tossafot explanation.  Thus,
the commentary of the Tossafists exists in abridged form, as it
were, in germ, in the commentary of Rashi.  Rashi was the
constant guide of the Tossafists.  His commentary, "the
Commentary," as they called it, was ever the basis for their
"additions."  They completed or discussed it; in each case they
made it their point of departure, and his influence is apparent
at every turn.  The species of literature called Tossafot is not
only thoroughly French in origin, but, it may said, without Rashi
it would never have come into existence.  The authors of the
Tossafot are as much the commentators of Rashi as they are of the
Talmud.[139] The Tossafot bear the same relation to his Talmudic
commentary as the Gemara to the Mishnah.  Like the Amoraim in
regard to the Tannaim, the Tossafists set themselves the task of
completing and correcting the work of the master; for, despite
their veneration for Rashi, they did not by any means spare him
in their love of truth.

The first Tossafists, both in point of age and worth, were not
only the disciples, but also, as we have seen, even the
descendants of Rashi.  "We drink," said R. Tam, "at the source
of R. Solomon."  One of the most celebrated Tossafists was a
great-grandson of Rashi, Isaac ben Samuel (about 1120-1195)
surnamed the Elder, son of a sister of R. Tam and grandson, on
his father's side, of Simhah, of Vitry.  Born without doubt at
Rameru, he attended the school of his two uncles, Samuel ben Meir
and Jacob Tam.  When Jacob Tam left for Troyes, Isaac ben Samuel
took his place.  Later he founded a school at Dampierre,[140]
where, it is said, he had sixty pupils, each of whom knew one of
the treatises of the Talmud by heart.  Through his departure,
Rameru lost its importance as a centre [center sic] of study.  He
collected and co-ordinated various explanations growing out of
Rashi's commentaries.  Thus he established the foundations for
the Tossafot, on every page of which his name appears.

He was the teacher of the most learned Talmudists of the end of
the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century.  His son
and collaborator Elhanan, a highly esteemed rabbi, died before
him, some say as a martyr.  Among his disciples are said to have
been Baruch ben Isaac, originally from Worms, later resident of
Ratisbon, author of the Sefer ha-Terumah (Book of the
Heave-Offering), one of the first and most influential casuistic
collections (about 1200); Isaac ben Abraham, called the Younger
to distinguish him from his master, whom he succeeded and who
died a little before 1210; and the brother of Isaac, Samson of
Sens (about 1150-1230), whose commentaries, according to the
testimony of Asheri, exercised the greatest influence upon the
study of the Talmud.  He was one of the most illustrious
representatives of the French school, and his authority was very
great.  His usual abiding place was Sens in Burgundy, but about
1211 he emigrated to Palestine in the company of some other
scholars.  He met his death at St. Jean d'Acre.

By this time Champagne had proved too contracted a field for the
activity of so many rabbis.  Flourishing schools arose in Ile-de-
France and Normandy; and it is related that at Paris, in the
first half of the twelfth century, lived the scholarly and pious
Elijah ben Judah, who carried on a controversy about phylacteries
with his kinsman Jacob Tam.  But the most celebrated Tossafist of
Paris without reserve was Judah Sir Leon, born in 1166 and died
in 1224, a descendant of Rashi.  The school of Paris having been
closed after the expulsion of 1181, Judah went to study at
Dampierre under the guidance of Isaac and his son Elhanan.  Among
his fellow-disciples, besides the rabbis already mentioned, were
Samson Sir of Coucy, Solomon of Dreux, Simon of Joinville,
Abraham ben Nathan, of Lunel, and others.  In 1198 Philip
Augustus recalled the Jews he had expelled, and the community
again prospered.  Judah re-established the school, which soon
assumed the first place in the list of academies.  Among his
numerous pupils mention is made of Moses ben Jacob, of Coucy,
brother-in-law of Samson and 'author of the famous Sefer
Mizwot Gadol (Great Book of Precepts), abbreviated to
Semag, which shows the mingled influence of the Mishneh
Torah of Maimonides and of the Tossafot of the French
masters; Isaac ben Moses, of Vienna, who carried into Austria the
methods and teachings of his French masters, surnamed Or
Zarua after the title of his work, a valuable ritual
compilation; and Samuel ben Solomon Sir Morel,[141] of Falalse
(about 1175-1253), whose most celebrated pupil was Meir of
Rothenburg, the greatest authority of his country and his time,
known for his dramatic end as well as for his great intellectual
activity (1225-1293).

The successor of Judah Sir Leon was Jehiel ben Joseph, or Sir
Vives, of Meaux.  At this time the school is said to have counted
three hundred pupils.  In the disputation of 1240,[142] Jehiel
ben Joseph together with Moses of Coucy, Samuel of Falaise, and
another less well-known rabbi, Judah ben David, of Melun,
represented the Jews.  A Christian source calls Jehiel "the
cleverest and most celebrated of all the Jews."  When he left for
Palestine in 1260 the school of Paris was closed not to be opened

Jehiel left behind him in France two important disciples, his
son-in-law, Isaac ben Joseph, of Corbeil (died in 1280), who in
1277 published the "Columns of Exile," also called Sefer
Mizwot Katan (Little Book of Precepts), abbreviated to
Semak, a religious and ethical collection, which enjoyed
great vogue; and Perez ben Elia, of Corbeil (died about 1295),
who mentions Isaac as his master also.  Perez visited Brabant and
Germany, where he maintained relations with Meir of Rothenburg.
Among his pupils there was Mordecai ben Hillel, an authority
highly esteemed for his decisions, who died a martyr at Nuremberg
in 1298.  Another master of his was Samuel ben Shneor, of Evreux
(about 1225), a much-quoted Tossafist, who studied under the
guidance of his elder brother Moses, editor of the "Tossafot of
Evreux," largely used for the present printed editions of the
Tossafot.  In the second half of the thirteenth century, Eliezer
of Touques compiled the Tossafot of Sens, of Evreux, etc., adding
his own explanations on the margin.  His work forms the chief
basis for our present Tossafot to the Talmud.

As always with redactions and compilations, these mentioned here
are a sign of the discontinuance of studies, worn threadbare by
two centuries of intense activity.  Decadence, moreover, was
brought about more rapidly, as we shall see, by the misfortunes
that successively befell the Jews of France.


Rashi's influence was no less enduring and no less wholesome in
the province of Biblical exegesis.  An idea of the impression he
made may be gained from the fact that more than fifty super-
commentaries were written on his commentary on the Pentateuch, to
explain or to complete it, to defend it, and occasionally to
combat it.  But Rashi's influence was productive of still more
than this.  It called into being original works superior even to
his own.  His disciples shook off the yoke of Talmudic and
Midrashic tradition that had rested upon him.  But even when they
surpassed him, it was nevertheless his influence that was acting
upon them and his authority to which they appealed.

Samuel ben Meir, diffuse as were his Talmudic commentaries, was
admirably brief in his commentary on the Pentateuch, which is a
model of simplicity and accuracy, and is marked by insight and
subtlety.  It is possibly the finest product of the French
exegetic school.  It sets forth general rules of interpretation,
as, for instance, that the Bible should be explained through
itself and without the aid of the Haggadic or even Halakic
Midrash.  Literal exegesis, said Samuel ben Meir, is more
forceful than Halakic interpretation. He so resolutely pursued
the method of Pesbat, that Nahmanides felt justified in declaring
he sometimes overdid it.  The same admirable qualities exist in
Rashbam's commentaries on the Prophets and the Hagiographa, in
which he everywhere turns to excellent account the works of his
ancestor, sometimes merely referring to them, but also combating
Rashi's explanations, though in this case he does not mention

Eliezer of Beaugency and Moses of Paris (middle of the twelfth
century) were doubtless among the disciples of Samuel ben Meir.
Moses of Paris, in turn, had a pupil by the name of Gabriel.

Occasionally Rashbam did not disdain the Midrash.  But the same
cannot be said of his friend and collaborator Joseph ben Simon
Kara (born about 1060-1070, died about 1130-1140), a nephew and
disciple of Menahem ben Helbo, and the friend if not the disciple
of Rashi, to whom he acknowledges himself indebted.  He wrote
additions to Rashi's commentaries, and on Rashi's advice wrote a
part of his Biblical commentaries, several of which have been
published.  They enjoyed great vogue, and in certain manuscripts
they are set alongside of, or replace, Rashi's commentaries.
They fully deserve the honor; for, in fact, Joseph Kara surpasses
Rashi and rivals Rashbam in his fair-minded criticism, his
scrupulous attachment to the literal meaning, and his absolutely
clear idea of the needs of a wholesome exegesis, to say nothing
of his theological views, which are always remarkable and
sometimes bold.  He frankly rejected the Midrash, and compares
the person making use of it to the drowning man who clutches at a
straw.  Contrary to tradition he denies that Samuel was the
author of the Biblical book bearing his name.

Side by side with Joseph Kara belongs his rival and younger
contemporary Joseph Bekor-Shor, doubtless the same person as
Joseph ben Isaac, of Orleans, who was a disciple of Rabbenu Tam,
and must, therefore, have lived in the middle of the twelfth
century.  His commentary on the Pentateuch, which has been
published in part, is frequently cited by later exegetes, and its
reputation is justified by its keen insight and its vein of odd
originality.  Joseph Bekor-Shor had felt the influence of the
Spaniards, but he had yielded to the attractions of Talmudic
dialectics, which he had acquired at a good school, although,
like his master, he cites, in connection with the Bible, a
certain Obadiah.

Quae secutae sunt magis defieri quam narrari possunt.  In
the works of the second half of the twelfth century this fault
becomes more and more perceptible, and signs of decadence begin
to appear.  Moreover, the writings at this time were very
numerous, fostering, and, in turn, stimulated by, anti-Christian
polemics.  The greater number of the Tossafists study the Bible
in conjunction with the Talmud.  Citations are made of
explanations or Biblical commentaries by Jacob of Orleans, Moses
of Pontoise, Isaac the Elder, Isaac the Younger, Judah Sir Leon,
Jehiel of Meaux, and Moses of Coucy.  All these rabbis wrote
Tossafot to the Bible as well as to the Talmud.  This comparative
study of Bible and Talmud was continued for some time, untill
[until sic] at the beginning of the thirteenth century
intellectual activity was exhausted.  Original works were
replaced by a large number of compilations, all related to one
another, since the authors copied without scruple and pillaged
without shame.

Chief among these works, which bear the general title of Tossafot
to the Torah and some of which have been printed, are
Hazzekuni, by Hezekiah ben Manoah (about 1240),
Gan[143] (Garden), by Aaron ben Joseph, (about 1250),
Daat Zekenim (Knowledge of the Ancients), in which many
exegetes are cited (after 1252), Paaneah Razah (Revealer
of the Mystery), by Isaac ben Judah ha-Levi  (about 1300),
Minhat Yehudah (Offering of Judah), by Judah ben Eliezer
(or Eleazar), of Troyes (1313), Hadar Zekenim (Glory of
the Ancients; beginning of the fourteenth century), and Imre
Noam (Pleasant Words), by Jacob of Illescas (middle of the
fourteenth century).

All these works were more or less inspired by Rashi, and some,
such as Hazzekuni, might be called super-commentaries to
Rashi.  But these disciples were not true to the spirit of the
master.  They gave themselves up to the Haggadah more than he
did, and also to a thing unknown to him, Gematria and mystical
exegesis.  Thus this French school, which for nearly a century had
shone with glowing brilliance, now threw out only feeble rays,
and abandoned itself more and more to the subtleties of the
Midrash, to the fancifulness of the Gematria.  It almost
consigned to oblivion the great productions in rational exegesis,
always excepting Rashi's commentaries, the popularity of which
never waned, as much because of the author's renown as because of
his concessions to the Midrash.

It remained for a Christian exegete to free rational exegesis
from the discredit into which it had fallen.  The ecclesiastical
commentators even more than the authors of the Biblical Tossafot
were steeped in allegorism and mysticism; but among them were
some who cultivated the interpretation of the literal meaning of
Scriptures, and even appealed to Jewish scholars for
explanations'.  Unfortunately, Rashi's works, written in a
language unintelligible to the Christians, could not in any
degree influence a general intellectual movement.

However, exception must be made of the celebrated Franciscan monk
Nicholas de Lyra (born about 1292, died in 1340), author of the
Postillae perpetuae on the Bible which brought him the
title of doctor planus et utilis.  Nicholas de Lyra
possessed knowledge rare among Christians, knowledge of the
Hebrew language, and he knew Hebrew so well that he was thought
to be a converted Jew.  In his works, polemical in character, he
comes out against the mystical tendencies in the interpretations
of the rabbis, and does not spare Rashi, even attributing to him
explanations nowhere existing in Rashi's writings.  But these
criticisms of his, as he himself says, are "extremely rare."
Moreover he does not refrain from accepting for his own purposes
a large number of Midrashim borrowed from Rashi.  It was from
Rashi's commentaries, in fact, that he learned to know rabbinical
literature - only to combat it.  On one occasion he said, "I
usually follow Rabbi Solomon, whose teachings are considered
authoritative by modern Jews."  He sometimes modified the text of
the Vulgate according to the explanations of the rabbi, and his
commentary on the Psalms, for instance, is often only a
paraphrase of Rashi's.  For this reason Nicholas de Lyra was
dubbed, it must be admitted somewhat irreverently, simia
Salomonis, Rashi's Ape.  Nevertheless, he exercised great
influence in ecclesiastical circles, comparable to that of Rashi
among the Jews.  His commentary was called "the common
commentary."  Possibly it was in imitation of Nicholas's work
that the name glosa hebraica (the Hebrew commentary), or
simply glosa, was bestowed upon Rashi's work by a
Christian author of the thirteenth century, who, if not the
famous scholar and monk Roger Bacon, must have been some one of
the same type.  Another Christian exegete of the same period,
William of Mara, cites Rashi's commentary under the title of
Perus.  The admiration felt for Nicholas de Lyra, which now seems
somewhat excessive, is expressed in the well-known proverb: Si
Lyra non lyrasset, totus mondus delirasset.  A modification
of the proverb, si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherius non
saltasset, is not an exaggeration; for the works of the
Franciscan monk were soon translated into German, and they
exercised a profound influence on the leader of the Reformation
when he composed the translation of the Bible, epoch-making in
the history of literature as well as of religion.  It is known
that Luther had large knowledge of the Hebrew and a strong
feeling for it, a quality he owed to Nicholas de Lyra and,
through him, to the Jewish exegetes, although his scornful pride
would never permit him to concede that "Rashi and the Tossafists
made Nicholas de Lyra and Nicholas de Lyra made Luther."

At the time when Rashi's influence was thus extended to Christian
circles, the Jewish schools called into being by his work and his
teachings fell into decay on account of the persecutions that
shook French Judaism to its foundations and almost deprived it of
existence.  This shows how firmly intellectual activities are
bound up with temporal fortunes - a truth manifested in the
period of growth and maturity and illustrated afresh in the
period of decadence.

Even after the First Crusade, the situation of the jews of
France had remained favorable.  It did not perceptibly change as
a result of the various local disorders marking the Second
Crusade.  Nevertheless, the second half of the twelfth century
witnessed the uprise of accusations of ritual murder and
piercings of the host.  Popular hatred and mistrust were
exploited by the greedy kings.  Philip Augustus expelled the Jews
from his domain in 1181, though he recalled them in 1198.  Yet
the example had been set, and the security of the Jews was done
for.  The lords and bishops united to persecute them, destroy
their literary treasures, and paralyze their intellectual
efforts.  They found the right king for their purposes in St.
Louis, a curious mixture of tolerance and bigotry, of charity and
fanaticism.  "St.  Louis sought to deprive the Jews of the book
which in all their trials was their supreme consolation, the
refuge of their souls against outside clamor and suffering, the
only safeguard of their morality, and the bond maintaining their
religious oneness - the Talmud."  In 1239 an apostate, Nicholas
Donin, of La Rochelle, denounced the Talmud to Gregory IX.  The
Pope ordered the seizure of all copies, and an investigation of
the book.  In France the mandate was obeyed, and a disputation
took place at Paris.  Naturally, the Talmud was condemned, and
twenty - four cartloads of Hebrew books were consigned to the
flames.  The auto-da-fe of 1242 marks the decadence of an
entire literature, the ruin of brilliant schools, and the check
to the movement so gloriously inaugurated by Rashi.  All the
living forces of French Judaism were deeply affected.

But the fall was neither complete nor sudden.  It was not until
1306 that the Jews were exiled from France by Philip the Fair,
and a hundred thousand persons had to leave the country in which
their nation had long flourished and to whose prosperity they had
materially contributed.

The expulsion of 1306 withdrew French Judaism to the provinces
directly attached to the crown.  In vain were the Jews recalled
in 1315 "at the general cry of the people."  Only a very few
profited by the tolerance shown them.  After that their existence
was troubled by riots, and broken in upon by expulsions.  The
schools, of old so flourishing, fell into a state of utter decay.
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;[144] 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.[145]  The
commentaries of David Kimhi[146] 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,[147] 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,[148] 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,[149] 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).

                           CHAPTER XII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

                           APPENDIX I

                       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
      |                                       |
   Elhanan                                    |
   d. 1184                                    |
      |                              Judah Sir Leon of Paris
      |                                    1166-1224

                           APPENDIX II


                      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
   Monatsschrift, xli.

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

   Three books have been wrongly attributed to Rashi: a medical
   work, Sefer ha-Refuah; a grammatical work, Leshon
   Limmudim, actually composed by Solomon ben Abba Mari of
   Lunel; and an entirely fanciful production called Sefer ha-
   Parnes (incorrect for Sefer ha-Pardes).

                  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.


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
   of Rashi:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chap. VI. - On Moses ha-Darshan there is a monograph by A.
   Epstein, Vienna 1891; and on Menahem ben Helbo one by S.
   Poznanski, Warsaw, 1904.

   Concerning the Biblical commentaries see:
   A. Geiger, Nite Naamanim, oder Sammlung aus alten
   schatzbaren Manuscripten, Berlin, 1847.

   Parshandata, die Nordfranzosische Ezegetenschule,
   Leipsic, 1855.

   Antoine Levy, Die Exegese bei den franzosischen Juden vom
   10 bis 14 Jahrhundert (translated from the French),
   Leipsic, 1873.

   Nehemiah Kronberg, Raschi als Exeget ... , Halle
   [1882]. In Winter und Wunsehe, Die judische Litteratur,
   ii, Berlin, 1897, Die Bibelexegese, by W. Bacher.

Chap. VII. - See especially the above mentioned essay of Weiss,
   and by the same author, Dor Dor we-Dorschaw, Zur Geschichte
   der judischen Tradition, Vienna, iv, 1887.

   In Winter und Wunsche ibid. ii, Die Halacha in
   Italien, Frankreich und Deutschland, by A. Kaminka.

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

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

Chap. X. - Zunz, Die Synagogale Poesie, Berlin, 1855.
   Clement-Mullet, Poesies ou Selichot attribuees a
   Raschi, in the Memoires de la Societe academique de
   l'Aube, xx; published by itself, Troyes, 1856.

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

Zunz, Zur Geschichte und Literatur.

Renan [and Neubauer], Les rabbins francais (Histoire
   litteraire de la France), Paris, 1877.

L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese biblique,
   Paris, 1881.

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

Gross, Gallia judaica, Paris, 1897, passim.

Berliner, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Raschi-Commentare,
   Berlin, 1903.

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

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

Concerning Rashi's descendants, see Epstein, Mishpahat
Luria et Kohen-Zedek in Ha-Goren, i, Appendix.


1   See W. Bacher, Raschi una Maimuni, Monatsschrift,
    XLIX, pp.1 et seq.  Also D. Yellin and I. Abrahams,
    Maimonides.  Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication
    Society of America, 1903.

2   A legend has it that Vespasian made some Jews embark on three
    vessels, which were then abandoned on the open sea.  One of
    the ships reached Aries, another Lyons, and the third
    Bordeaux. See Gross, Gallia judaica, p.74.

3   See, for example, p.164.

4   See Note 10.

5   Israel Levi.

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

7   However, there had been Talmudists in France before this

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

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

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

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

12  For this passage, see p.112.

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

14  See p.81.

15  See Epstein, Die nach Raschi genannten Gebaude in

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

17  See p.39.

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

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

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

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

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

23  As has been shown (chap. II, p.51) Rashi may have begun to
    write commentaries upon the Talmud during his sojourn In
    Lorraine.  However that may be, it is difficult to
    dlstinguish in this huge production between the work of his
    youth and that of his maturity or old age.

24  That is to say "very beautiful."  It is a name frequently
    borne by French Jewesses in the middle ages.  Some give the
    name of her husband as Ephraim.  In chap. XI, pp.187 et
    seq. the sons-in-law and grandchildren of Rashi will
    receive further consideration.  See also Appendix I.

25  According to Jacob Molin ha-Levi, called Maharli, rabbi of
    Mayence, later of Worms, where he died in 1427.  Christian
    marriages bore many points of resemblance to Jewish
    marriages. See the work of Lecoy de la Marche, La chaire
    francaise au moyen-age.

26  See pp.165-6.

27  The economic influence of the Crusades has also been
    exaggerated.  The Crusaders in Palestine came into relations
    with scarcely no other Turks than those but slightly
    civilized, and thus saw little of the brilliant Arabic
    civilization.  The Jews certainly contributed more than the
    Crusades to the development of commerce and the increase of

28  According to a less popular form of the legend, Godfrey of
    Bouillon disguised himself as a beggar, and obtained entrance
    into Rashi's home by asking for alms.  But the night before,
    the visit of the lord had been announced to Rashi in a dream,
    and on his approach Rashi arose and hailed him by the title
    of hero.  It was in this way that Joan of Arc recognized
    Charles VII lost in the crowd of his courtiers.

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

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
    of Rashi.

33  See p.45.

34  See chap. VI, p.105.

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

36  See Note 94.

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

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
    Berliner, pp.156-63.

42  A Midrashic compilation, partly mystic in character, of the
    eighth century, but attributed to the Tanna R. Eliezer ben
    Hyrkanos the Great.

43  Collection in three "gates," relating to history, especially
    to Biblical chronology.  Its redaction is commonly attributed
    to R. Jose ben Halafta (second century).

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

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

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

47  Yehudai bar Nahman, Gaon of Sura (about 759 or 762), eminent
    Talmudist and adversary of the Karaites.  He wrote Responsa
    and possibly the Halakot, a collection of legal and ritual
    rules.  He is said to have been blind.

48  Isaac Abrabanel was possibly the only Jew who unmasked
    Josephus and revealed his lies and flatteries.  Judah Sir
    Leon (see chap. XI, p.194) recognized that Kalir was not
    identical with the Tanna Eleazar ben Simon.

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

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

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

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

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

54  See Note 53.

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

56  In the middle of the eleventh century, it must be added,
    differences between neighboring dialects were not yet very

57  James Darmesteter, Introduction to the Reliques
    scientifiques, of his brother Arsene Darmesteter (Paris,
    1890), vol. I, p. XVIII.

58  Eliezer ben Nathan, of Mayence (about 1145), correspondent of
    Meir and of his sons Samuel and Jacob, author of the work
    Eben ha-Ezer, whence the passage quoted has been taken
    (Pp.107, p.36a).

59  The Persian word Parshandata, name of one of the sons
    of Haman, was divided into Parshan and data,
    "expounder of the Law."  This epithet is applied to Rashi in
    the poem attributed to Ibn Ezra, cited in chap. XI, p.207.

60  Rashi seems also to have known about the Targum of the
    Pseudo-Jonathan upon the Pentateuch. See Note 72.

61  Concerning the development of Biblical studies in general,
    among Jews as well as Christians, see pp.127 et seq.

62  L. Wogue, Histoire de la Bible et de l'exegese
    biblique, p.250.

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

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

65  Proverbs viii. 22.

66  Jeremiah ii. 3.

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

68  "We will praise and we will celebrate."

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

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

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

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

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

74  Still according to the Mekilta.  The Song of Songs is often
    applied by Jewish exegetes to the events of the Exodus from

75  The French laaz is corrupted in the editions.  The
    reading should be peri shnt Pe Resh Yod, Shin Noon
    followed by gershayim Samech.

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

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

78  A fantastic bit of etymology taken from the Talmud.

79  Ex. xxvii. 20.

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

81  Portion preceding next to last of Exodus.

82  Ex. xxviii. 6.

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

84  L. Wogue.

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

86  I Sam. xxiii. 14.

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

88  See Note 91.

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

90  Commentary on Gen. xxxvii. 1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

95  See Appendix II, pp.232-4.

96  See p.91.

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

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

99  See Notes 37 and 38.

100 Another name for the Sadduceans, from their chief Boethus
    (first century of the Common Era)

101 Psalm lxxxi. 5, which refers to the new moon.  Now, in every
    case at least two witnesses are necessary.

102 Lev. xxiii. 40.

103 Ex. xv. 2.

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

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

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
    Zedah la-Derek.

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

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

126 See chap. III, p.67.

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

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

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

    In connection with the Sefer ha-Pardes must be
    mentioned the work bearing the title of Likkute ha-
    Pardes (Extracts from Paradise), a compilation edited in
    Italy by the disciples of Isaiah da Trani.

130 See chap. IV, p.84.

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

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

133 See p.162.

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

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

136 Chap. VI, p.125.

137 Concerning the Biblical exegesis of Samuel ben Meir see

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
    biblique, p.319.

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

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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