Tuesday, February 17, 2015

History of the Masorah: Early Rishonim of Ashkenaz - The Ravyah and his Contemporaries

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

Students of the Raavan

After Raavan, Torah in Germany was led by his sons-in-law and students.  Raavan’s sons-in-law were R. Shmuel b. Natronai (רשב"ט) and R. Yoel.  One of Raavan’s most central students was R. Moshe ha-Kohen, who is quoted a few times in the printed Tosafos, and was a student of R. Tam and Raavan.   

Also at this time, R. Eliezer of Metz, one of R. Tam’s foremost students, returned to Germany from his studies in France, and also served as a leader of the German Torah community.[1]

R. Eliezer b. Yoel HaLevi (ראבי"ה)

Ravyah (d. 1220’s) was a grandson of Raavan, and was a leading Talmud scholar in Germany.[2]  His teachers included his grandfather (Raavan), his father (R. Yoel, son-in-law of Raavan), R. Eliezer of Metz, R. Yehudah He-Chasid, and others.   
Ravyah wrote a number of important works.  His most well-known is AviEzri, a halakhic work that addresses laws that are applicable nowadays. The sefer focused primarily on Seder Moed, and tractates Berachos and Hullin.  The sefer contains a nice amount of “Tosafos-style” teachings, and includes important halachic teshuvos.  He notes in the introduction that he will also record many of the practices (minhagim) of Germany. The AviEzri is printed nowadays under the title Sefer Ha-Ravyah.

Ravyah also wrote a sefer called Aviasaf.  It addresses Seder Nashim and Nezeikin.  The sefer is quoted by other rishonim, but is no longer extant (note that the Chida in Shem Gedolim says that he saw a copy of it).  The Ravyah also wrote a Tosafos commentary on various tractates.

Ravyah’s Contemporaries

Some of the other major figures in Ashkenaz at this time were:

  1. R. Baruch b. Shmuel (ר' ברוך ממגנצא, d. 1221) was a student of R. Eliezer of Metz and R. Moshe ha-Kohen.  He was a leading German figure and author of a Talmud commentary.  R. Baruch also authored a work called Sefer Ha-Chochmah, which is no longer extant. 
  2. R. Simcha b. Shmuel of Speyer (רבינו שמחה משפירא) was one of the greatest figures in the whole German tradition. He was student of R. Eliezer of Metz and a colleague of Ravyah.  R. Simcha authored a halachic work called Seder Olam, which has been lost but is quoted by other rishonim.  R. Simcha also wrote a Tosafos-style commentary on the Talmud and important teshuvos.
  3. R. Eliezer b. Yehudah of Worms (רוקח, d. 1238) was a descendant of the famous Kolonymous family of Germany.  He studied under R. Yehudah he-Chasid and was associated with the Chasidei Ashkenaz.  He was a prolific writer, especially in the area of ethics and sod.  Included among his dozens of works is an important halachic code called Sefer Rokeach Ha-Gadol, a work on the laws and nature of repentance called Moreh Chataim, and a Tosafos-style Talmud commentary. 

[1] Other German Rabbonim at this time were R. Yehuda ben Kelonimus (Rivak) and Rivah HaBachur, grandson of Riva.

[2] Ravyah had a brother, R. Uri, who was burned al kidush Hashem in 1216.  A kinah about his death is published in Haberman’s Gezerios Ashkenaz ve-Tzarfat, p. 159.

No comments:

Post a Comment