Tuesday, January 27, 2015

History of the Masorah: Early Rishonim of Ashkenaz, Part IV

Rav Leibowitz

Note: This post has been incorporated into a pamphlet on the Early Rishonim.  It can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.  

R. Tam’s Contemporaries and Students

The Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo, Introduction to Chullin) writes that R. Tam had eighty students that were all accomplished scholars (ראוי להוראה).   Some of R. Tam’s colleagues and students were:  
  1. R. Eliyahu of Paris (ר' אליהו מפריס) was a colleague of R. Tam.  He is quoted in the printed Tosafos in at least fifteen tractates, and appears in many other early works of the Rishonim.
  2. R. Chaim Kohen (ר' חיים כהן) was a talmid muvhak of R. Tam from Paris.  He appears in the printd Tosafos in at least eighteen tractates. [1] His grandson was R. Moshe of Coucy (Semag). 
  3. R. Meshullum of Melun (ר' משולם) was originally from Narbonne, a city associated with the region of Provance.  However, he moved to Northern France (i.e. Ashkenaz) to the Parisian suburb of Melun and engaged in heated debates with the Ashkenaz establishment, especially R. Tam.  R. Meshullum is quoted in the printed Tosafos in at least nine tracates.  His son was R. Nasan of Etampes, who was famous for his polemical arguments. 
  4. R. Yosef of Orleans (ר"י מאורליינס) was also known as Bechor Shor after his commentary on the Torah with that title.  He appears in the printed Tosafos as ר' יוסף, ר' יוסף מאורליינס, or ר' יוסף בכור שור.  His granddaughter married R. Yehudah of Paris.
  5. R. Eliezer of Metz, Germany (רא"ם) left Germany to study with R. Tam in France.  R. Eliezer is quoted in the printed Tosafos in a few locations.  He was the author of Sefer Yeraim, which is structured around the 613 mitzvos.  In this work, R. Eliezer writes of the decline in affairs of their culture, and of a lack of Torah knowledge.  In structuring the work, R. Eliezer split the mitzvos into seven “pillars” - each pillar focusing on a different sphere of man’s desires.  Besides the “mussar” elements of the work, the Sefer Yeraim is still not a traditional halakhic code or list of the mitzvos.  R. Eliezer included many long winded dialectic Tosafos-style discussions in presenting each mitzvah. The Sefer Yeraim was instantly successful and spread very quickly across the wold of Torah study.[2]

R. Yitzchak b. Shmuel of Dampierre (ר"י הזקן)

Ri Ha-Zaken was a prolific Tosafist, perhaps more influential than even R. Tam.  Ri’s mother was R. Tam’s sister, making him a nephew of R. Tam and a grandson of Rashi.  On his father’s side, he was a grandson of Rashi’s student, R. Simcha of Vitri.  Ri’s wife was a great great-granddaughter of Rashi.

Ri studied under his uncle Rashbam and R. Eliyahu of Paris.  However, his primary teacher was his uncle R. Tam.   In certain respects, Ri was the most central figure in the Tosafist movement.  According to the Maharshal, it was Beis Midrash of Ri in Dampierre, France that produced the basic framework for the French Tosafist teachings. [3] Reflecting this is the fact that Ri is quoted by name in the printed Tosafot commentary more than any other Tosafist. [4]

Tradition records that Ri’s Beis Midrash featured sixty accomplished Talmud scholars - each a master of a different tractate.  These scholars would sit in a circle around Ri during his shiurim.  As Ri would discuss a sugyah anyone who had a relevant comment from his mastered tractate would comment and enrich the analsyis of the passage at hand.[5]

As we will see later, Ri’s students copiously recorded his shiurim and also added their own insights.  Their works are the backbone of the printed Tosafos. 

[1] Note that sometimes ר"ח in Tosefos is R Chaim and not R. Channanel, see for instance Gittin 42b s.v. ve-shor and compare it to Mordechai, Bava Kamma 8:86.
[2] Other lesser-known contemporaries and students are: (1) R. Isaac ben Meir, a younger brother of Rashbam and R. Tam.  Although he died young, he appears in a number of tractates and is called at time Rivam (not to be confused with Rivam of Germany, who appears more frequently in Tosafos). (2) R. Yosef b. Moshe (ר' יוסף פורת) was a Talmid-chaver of R. Tam from Troyes who learned under Rashbam.  He appears in Tosefos Berachos, Shabbos, and Tosafos Yeshanim to Yuma, sometimes as R. Yosef, sometimes as R. Porat.  (3) R. Shimshon b. Yosef (ר' שמשון הזקן מפלייזא) – was R. Tam’s brother-in-law.  He is quoted in a number of tractates and in German halachic codes, like Ravyah and Or Zaruah.  He was killed al kidush Hashem, and wasn’t buried for half a year (See Sefer Ha-Yashar, Teshuvos 92). His grandsons were R. Shimshon of Shantz and Ritzva.
[3]Yam Shel Shlomo, Introduction to Chullin.
[4] Other sources for the Torah of the Ri:  The Hagaos Ashrei of R. Yisrael of Kremz often quotes the rulings of Ri as they are found in the Pesakim of R. Hezkiah of Magdeburg.  R. Yisrael notes this source when he writes: פר"י מהרי"ח
In tractate Kiddushin the mrgin of the printed Talmud contains “Tosafos Ri Ha-Zaken.”  However, this commentary was not written by Ri, but rather by R. Avraham Min Ha-Har, a 13th century Talmud schlar from Provance.
[5] Tzedah La-Derech, Introduction, page 6.

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