Monday, February 2, 2015

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

Rav Leibowitz

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

Talmidei Ha-Ri

Ri’s students spread his teachings to all corners of Ashkenaz, and beyond.  He had five primary students, each major channels for the dissemination of the Tosafist teachings.

Ri's Major Students:

(1) Rabbenu Elchonon (d. 1184, Hy”d) was Ri’s son.  His greatness is often compared with that of his father (Shu”t Maharik 52).  R. Elchonon was killed al Kiddush Hashem in 1184, while his father was still alive.   R. Elchonon wrote a Tosafos commentary on the Talmud.  We are currently only in possession of his Tosafot on Avodah Zarah. 

(2) R. Shimshon b. Avraham of Shantz (ר"ש משנץ, d. 1214) was one of the most prolific Tosafists.  In fact, the Rosh (Shu"t 84:3) counts him along with R. Tam and Ri as the the three pillars of the Tosafist movement.  He was a student of R. Tam and R. Hayyim Kohen, but his primary teacher was Ri.  At the end of his life, he moved to to Israel.[1]  

R. Shimshon wrote Tosafot Shantz on the entire Talmud (Only a few tractates are extant).  It is record of the Ri’s lectures with additions of R. Shimshon’s own original insights.   Tosafos Shantz were very influential and popular.  In fact, many passages in our Tosafos are verbatim quotes from Tosafot Shantz.   R. Shimshon also wrote a Mishna commentary on Sedarim Zeraim and Taharos – printed as פירוש הר"ש printed alongside the Rambam in standard editions of the Mishna.[2]

(3) R. Yitchak b. Avraham  (ריצב"א, d. c1210) was the older brother of R. Shimshon.  He too studied under R. Tam, but was primarily a student of the RI.  Ritzvah is generally known as a posek, but he also appears in our Tosafos in at least seven tractates. 

(4) Rabbenu Baruch (ר' ברוך, d. 1211) lived in Germany, but studied in France under Ri and R. Eliezer of Metz.  Even after Ri’s dath, R. Baruch remained in France, eventually moving to Israel in 1208.  R. Baruch wrote a Tosafos commentary known as Tosafos Rabbenu Baruch, and he is quoted in the printed Tosafos.[3]  

R. Baruch is also the author of Sefer Ha-Terumah, an important halachic work that reflects many of the rulings and teachings of the early Tosafists, especially Ri.  Sefer Ha-Terumah focuses on topics relating to practical halacha, such as shechita, gittin, teffilin, etc.  It draws heavily on the Torah of the Ri.  The sefer was very popular and spread quickly in France, Germany, Italy, and even Spain. 

(5) R. Yehudah of Paris (ר' יהודה שירליאון, d. 1224) was one of Ri’s last students.  He is sometimes refered to as רבינו האריה or as Sir-Leon.  R. Yehuda also studied under Ri’s older students, such as R. Shimshon and R. Baruch.  R. Yehudah’s beis midrash was in Paris.[4] R. Yehudah wrote a Tosafot commentary, Tosafot Rabbenu Yehudah, that were heavily based on the teachings of Ri.[5] We are only in possession of his Tosafos on tractate Berachos, but there are indications he wrote on at least nineteen other tractates.[6]

[1] R. Avraham b. ha-Rambam writes how he and his father heard that R. Shimshon was in Akko but they did not meet him as he did not pass through their region (Egypt).

[2] R. Shimshon is attributed with a commentary on Sifra, but it is not clear at all that he wrote it.  He also wrote Teshuvos, many of them were collected by his student, R. Yaacov b. Shlomo of Courson, some of these can be found in Or Zarua, Mordechai, and Teshuvos Maimoniot.  R. Shimshon also maintained a correspondence with Rema, regarding the Rambam’s writings about resurrection.    

[3] The printed Tosafos on Zevachim is either Tosafos R. Baruch or heavily based on it.  R. Baruch seems to have written a commentary on tractate Tamid, and may be the author of the commentary on Sifra attributed to Rash Mi-Shantz.

[4] There was a Torah center in Paris until 1182 when Philip Augustus expelled the Jews from Ill-de-France.  However in 1198, the expulsion was revoked and the Torah center started up, ostensibly under R. Yehudah.  Paris was an intellectual center in those days, even for Christian scholars, and it was called Civitas Literarum, קרית ספר, City of the Book.

[5] R. Yehudah quotes the Rambam in one place in his Tosafos, and this appears to be the first time one of the Tosafists quotes the Rambam in Tosafos, although we know from the Rash Mi-Shantz’s correspondence with the Ramah that he was aware of the writings of the Rambam.  See also Tosafos YomTov on Machshirin 5:10.

[6] Other Students of Ri:  (1) R. Shimshon of Coucy (שר מקוצי, d. 1221) wrote a Tosafot commentary and is also quoted occasionally in the printed Tosafot.  Legend records that R. Shimshon was held captive for many years by a Muslim lord.  Eventually, he escaped and saved the life of King Richard the Lionheart, who was lured into the lord’s estate.  Richard made him the Count of Coucy, and he served in this position for the remainder of his life, and was from them on known as the “Sar” of Coucy.  (2) R. Yosef b. Baruch of Clisson  (d. 1221) is quoted in the printed Tosafos.  He moved to Israel with Rash Mi-Shantz in 1211, hence is quoted occasionally as “R. Yosef Ish Yerushalayim.”  R. Yosef’s route to Israel went via Egypt and R. Avraham b. Ha-Rambam tells us “when French Scholars came to this land, the great Rabbi Yosef…” (Milchamos Hashem qtd. in Urbach, 319), and R. Yehudah al-Charizi visited Israel and wrote, “I met angels of God, pious Godly men, who came from France to dwell in Zion, and at their head is R. Yosef…” (ibid.). 

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