Rashi

Rashi

Overview
For the astrological concept, see Rāshi (Jyotiṣa).

Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

 rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)
Jewish commentaries on the Bible
This article describes the first printing of the Hebrew Bible with major Jewish commentaries, notes concerning translations into Aramaic and English, lists some universally accepted Jewish commentaries with notes on their method of approach and lists modern translations into English with notes.-...

. He is considered the "father" of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud (i.e., the Baalei Tosafot
Tosafot
The Tosafot or Tosafos are medieval commentaries on the Talmud. They take the form of critical and explanatory glosses, printed, in almost all Talmud editions, on the outer margin and opposite Rashi's notes...

) and the Tanakh (i.e., Ramban
Nahmanides
Nahmanides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman Girondi, Bonastruc ça Porta and by his acronym Ramban, , was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Catalan rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.-Name:"Nahmanides" is a Greek-influenced formation meaning "son of Naḥman"...

, Ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

, Ohr HaChaim
Chaim ibn Attar
Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar also known as the Ohr ha-Chaim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Meknes, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Israel July 7, 1743. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco.In 1733 he decided to leave his native...

, et al.).

Acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the text in a concise yet lucid fashion, Rashi appeals to both learned scholars and beginning students, and his works remain a centerpiece of contemporary Jewish study.
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Quotations

We learn from here the humility of the Holy One, Blessed is He. Since man is in the likeness of the angels, and they would be jealous of him, for this reason, He consulted them.

Commenting on Gen. 1:26; why does it say "Let us make man"?

They were not aware of the way of modesty, to distinguish between good and bad. Even though there had been put in man knowledge to be able to call the animals names, there had not been put in him the drive towards evil.

Commenting on Gen. 2:25; they were both naked and they were not ashamed.

Even a blind man realises when he is naked. So why does it say "And they realised that they were naked"? They had one commandment and were now naked of it.

Commenting on Gen. 3:7

God knew where he was, but he asked so as to start a conversation with Adam and avoid startling him too much to reply.

Commenting on Gen. 3:9; why should an omniscient God ask "Where are you?"
Encyclopedia
For the astrological concept, see Rāshi (Jyotiṣa).

Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

 rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)
Jewish commentaries on the Bible
This article describes the first printing of the Hebrew Bible with major Jewish commentaries, notes concerning translations into Aramaic and English, lists some universally accepted Jewish commentaries with notes on their method of approach and lists modern translations into English with notes.-...

. He is considered the "father" of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud (i.e., the Baalei Tosafot
Tosafot
The Tosafot or Tosafos are medieval commentaries on the Talmud. They take the form of critical and explanatory glosses, printed, in almost all Talmud editions, on the outer margin and opposite Rashi's notes...

) and the Tanakh (i.e., Ramban
Nahmanides
Nahmanides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman Girondi, Bonastruc ça Porta and by his acronym Ramban, , was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Catalan rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.-Name:"Nahmanides" is a Greek-influenced formation meaning "son of Naḥman"...

, Ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

, Ohr HaChaim
Chaim ibn Attar
Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar also known as the Ohr ha-Chaim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Meknes, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Israel July 7, 1743. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco.In 1733 he decided to leave his native...

, et al.).

Acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the text in a concise yet lucid fashion, Rashi appeals to both learned scholars and beginning students, and his works remain a centerpiece of contemporary Jewish study. His commentary on the Talmud, which covers nearly all of the Babylonian Talmud (a total of 30 tractates), has been included in every edition of the Talmud since its first printing by Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg was an early printer of Hebrew language books. A Christian, born in Antwerp, he was primarily active in Venice between 1516 and 1549....

 in the 1520s. His commentary on Tanakh — especially his commentary on the Chumash ("Five Books of Moses") — is an indispensable aid to students of all levels. The latter commentary alone serves as the basis for more than 300 "supercommentaries" which analyze Rashi's choice of language and citations, penned by some of the greatest names in rabbinic literature.

Rashi's surname Yitzhaki derives from his father's name, Yitzhak. The acronym is sometimes also fancifully expanded as Rabban Shel YIsrael (Teacher of Israel), or as Rabbenu SheYichyeh (Our Rabbi, may he live). He may be cited in Hebrew and Aramaic texts as (1) “Shlomo son of Rabbi Yitzhaki,” (2) “Shlomo son of Yitzhaki,” (3) “Shlomo Yitzhaki,” etc.

Birth and early life


Rashi was an only child born at Troyes
Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

, Champagne
Champagne (province)
The Champagne wine region is a historic province within the Champagne administrative province in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name...

, in northern France. His mother's brother was Simon the Elder, Rabbi of Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

. Simon was a disciple of Rabbeinu Gershom Meor HaGolah, who died that same year. On his father's side, Rashi has been claimed to be a 33rd-generation descendant of Yochanan Hasandlar
Yochanan Hasandlar
Johanan HaSandlar was one of the main students of Rabbi Akiva and a contemporary of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He is one of the tannaim whose teachings are quoted in the Mishnah...

, who was a fourth-generation descendant of Gamaliel the Elder, who was reputedly descended from the royal house of King David The Great. In his voluminous writings, Rashi himself made no such claim at all. The main early rabbinical source about his ancestry, Responsum No. 29 by Solomon Luria
Solomon Luria
Solomon Luria was one of the great Ashkenazic poskim and teachers of his time. He is known for his work of Halakha, Yam Shel Shlomo, and his Talmudic commentary Chochmat Shlomo...

, makes no such claim either.

Legends


His fame later made him the subject of many legends. One tradition contends that his parents were childless for many years. Rashi's father, Yitzhak, a poor vintner
Vintner
A vintner is a wine merchant. You pronounce it like this In some modern use, in particular in American English, the term is alsoused as a synonym for winemaker....

, once found a precious jewel and was approached by non-Jews who wished to buy it to adorn their idol. Yitzhak agreed to travel with them to their land, but en route, he cast the gem into the sea. Afterwards he was visited by either a Bath Kol
Bath Kol
Bat Kol is a "heavenly or divine voice which proclaims God's will or judgment." It was "identified with the Holy Spirit, even with God; but it differed essentially from the Prophets, though these spoke as the medium of the Holy Spirit."- Revelation :The characteristic attributes of the Bat Ḳol...

 (Heavenly voice) or the prophet Elijah, who told him that he would be rewarded with the birth of a noble son “who would illuminate the world with his Torah knowledge.”

Legend also states that the couple moved to Worms, Germany
Worms, Germany
Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only...

 while Rashi's mother was expecting. As she walked down one of the narrow streets in the Jewish quarter, she was imperiled by two oncoming carriages. She turned and pressed herself against a wall, which opened to receive her. This miraculous niche is still visible in the wall of the Rashi Shul
Rashi Shul
The Worms Synagogue, also known as Rashi's Chapel, is an 11th century synagogue located in Worms, Germany.-History:The first synagogue at the site was built in 1034 and is therefore regarded as the oldest existing synagogue in Germany...

.

Yeshiva studies



According to tradition, Rashi was first brought to learn Torah by his father on Shavuot
Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

 day at the age of five. His father was his main Torah teacher until his death when Rashi was still a youth. At the age of 17 he married and soon after went to learn in the yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 of Rabbi Yaakov ben Yakar
Yaakov ben Yakar
Yaakov ben Yakar was a German Talmudist. He flourished in the first half of the 11th century. He was a pupil of Gershom ben Judah in Mainz, and is especially known as the teacher of Rashi, who characterizes him as Mori HaZaken .Yaakov was one of the leading Talmudic authorities of his time...

 in Worms, returning to his wife three times yearly, for the Days of Awe, Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 and Shavuot
Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

. When Rabbi Yaakov died in 1064, Rashi continued learning in Worms for another year in the yeshiva of his relative, Rabbi Isaac ben Eliezer Halevi, who was also chief rabbi of Worms. Then he moved to Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, where he studied under another of his relatives, Rabbi Isaac ben Judah, the rabbinic head of Mainz and one of the leading sages of the Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

 region straddling France and Germany.

Rashi's teachers were students of Rabbeinu Gershom and Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol, leading Talmudists of the previous generation. From his teachers, Rashi imbibed the oral traditions pertaining to the Talmud as they had been passed down for centuries, as well as an understanding of the Talmud's unique logic and form of argument. Rashi took concise, copious notes from what he learned in yeshiva, incorporating this material in his commentaries.

Rosh yeshiva


He returned to Troyes at the age of 25, after which time his mother died, and he was asked to join the Troyes Beth din
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

(rabbinical court). He also began answering halakhic
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 questions. Upon the death of the head of the Bet din, Rabbi Zerach ben Abraham, Rashi assumed the court's leadership and answered hundreds of halakhic queries.

In around 1070 he founded a yeshiva which attracted many disciples. It is thought by some that Rashi earned his living as a vintner
Vintner
A vintner is a wine merchant. You pronounce it like this In some modern use, in particular in American English, the term is alsoused as a synonym for winemaker....

 since Rashi shows an extensive knowledge of its utensils and process, but there is no evidence for this. Although there are many legends about his travels, Rashi likely never went further than from the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 to the Rhine; the utmost limit of his travels were the yeshivas of Lorraine.

In 1096, the People's Crusade
People's Crusade
The People's Crusade is part of the First Crusade and lasted roughly six months from April 1096 to October. It is also known as the Peasants' Crusade or the Paupers' Crusade...

 swept through the Lorraine, murdering 12,000 Jews and uprooting whole communities. Among those murdered in Worms were the three sons of Rabbi Isaac ben Eliezer Halevi, Rashi's teacher. Rashi wrote several Selichot
Selichot
Selichot or slichot are Jewish penitential poems and prayers, especially those said in the period leading up to the High Holidays, and on Fast Days...

(penitential poems) mourning the slaughter and the destruction of the region's great yeshivot. Seven of Rashi's Selichot still exist, including Adonai Elohei Hatz'vaot", which is recited on the eve of Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah , , is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im which occur in the autumn...

, and Az Terem Nimtehu, which is recited on the Fast of Gedalia
Fast of Gedalia
The Fast of Gedalia , also spelled Gedaliah, is a Jewish fast day from dawn until dusk to lament the assassination of the righteous governor of Judah of that name, which ended Jewish rule following the destruction of the First Temple.-Origins:...

.

Death and burial site


Rashi died on July 13, 1105 (Tammuz 29, 4865) aged 65. He was buried in Troyes. The approximate location of the cemetery in which he was buried was recorded in Seder Hadoros, but over time the location of the cemetery was forgotten. A number of years ago, a Sorbonne
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 professor discovered an ancient map depicting the site of the cemetery, which now lay under an open square in the city of Troyes. After this discovery, French Jews erected a large monument in the center of the square—a large, black and white globe featuring a prominent Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 letter, Shin
Shin (letter)
Shin literally means "Sharp" ; It is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician , Aramaic/Hebrew , and Arabic ....

(ש) (presumably for "Shlomo", Rashi's name). The granite base of the monument is engraved: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki — Commentator and Guide.

In 2005, Yisroel Meir Gabbai
Yisroel Meir Gabbai
Yisroel Meir Gabbai is a Breslover Hasid who travels the world to locate, repair and maintain Jewish cemeteries and kevarim of Torah notables...

 erected an additional plaque at this site marking the square as a burial ground. The plaque reads: "The place you are standing on is the cemetery of the town of Troyes. Many Rishonim
Rishonim
"Rishon" redirects here. For the preon model in particle physics, see Harari Rishon Model. For the Israeli town, see Rishon LeZion.Rishonim were the leading Rabbis and Poskim who lived approximately during the 11th to 15th centuries, in the era before the writing of the Shulkhan Arukh and...

 are buried here, among them Rabbi Shlomo, known as Rashi the holy, may his merit protect us
".

Descendants



Rashi had no sons, but his three daughters, Miriam, Yocheved, and Rachel, all married Talmudic scholars. Legends exist that Rashi's daughters put on tefillin
Tefillin
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

. While some women in medieval Ashkenaz did wear tefillin, there is no evidence that Rashi's daughters did so.
  • Rashi's middle daughter, Miriam, married Judah ben Nathan
    Judah ben Nathan
    Judah ben Nathan, also referred to by the Hebrew acronym RIBaN, was a gifted French rabbi and commentator on the Talmud in the eleventh to twelfth century, best known for being the son-in-law and pupil of the great commentator Rashi, and to a great extent his continuator.It was Judah who completed...

    , who completed the commentary on Talmud Makkot
    Makkot
    Makkot is a book of the Mishnah and Talmud. It is the fifth volume of the book of Nezikin. Makkot deals primarily with laws of Jewish courts and the punishments which they may administer, and may be regarded as a continuation of tractate Sanhedrin, of which it originally formed part.Included in...

     which Rashi was working on when he died. Their daughter Alvina was a learned woman whose customs served as the basis for later halakhic decisions. Their son Yom Tov later moved to Paris and headed a yeshiva there, along with his brothers Shimshon and Eliezer.
  • Rashi's oldest daughter, Yocheved, married Meir ben Shmuel; their four sons were: Shmuel (Rashbam
    Rashbam
    Samuel ben Meir after his death known as "Rashbam", a Hebrew acronym for: RAbbi SHmuel Ben Meir, was a leading French Tosafist and grandson of Shlomo Yitzhaki, "Rashi."-Biography:...

    ) (b. 1080), Yitzchak (Rivam
    Rivam
    Isaac ben Meir , also known as the Rivam after his Hebrew acronym, was a French rabbi and one of the Baalei Tosafos. He was the grandson of Rashi, and brother of the Rashbam and the Rabbeinu Tam. His father was Meir ben Shmuel and his mother was Yocheved, the daughter of Rashi...

    ) (b. 1090), Jacob (Rabbeinu Tam
    Rabbeinu Tam
    Rabbeinu Tam , born Jacob ben Meir, was one of the most renowned French Tosafists and a foremost halachic authority of his generation...

    ) (b. 1100), and Shlomo the Grammarian, who were among the most prolific of the Baalei Tosafos, leading rabbinic authorities who wrote critical and explanatory glosses on the Talmud which appear opposite Rashi's commentary on every page of the Talmud. Yocheved's daughter, Chanah, was a teacher of laws and customs relevant to women.
  • Rashi's youngest daughter, Rachel, married (and divorced) Eliezer ben Shemiah.

Commentary on the Tanakh



Rashi's commentary on the Tanakh — and especially his commentary on the Chumash — is the essential companion for any study of the Talmud at any level. Drawing on the breadth of Midrashic, Talmudic and Aggadic literature (including literature that is no longer extant), as well as his knowledge of grammar, halakhah, and how things work, Rashi clarifies the "simple" meaning of the text so that a bright child of five could understand it. At the same time, his commentary forms the foundation for some of the most profound legal analysis and mystical discourses that came after it. Scholars debate why Rashi chose a particular Midrash to illustrate a point, or why he used certain words and phrases and not others. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Shneur Zalman of Liadi , also known as the Baal HaTanya, , was an Orthodox Rabbi, and the founder and first Rebbe of Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, then based in Liadi, Imperial Russia...

 wrote that “Rashi’s commentary on Torah is the ‘wine of Torah’. It opens the heart and uncovers one’s essential love and fear of G-d."

Scholars believe that Rashi's commentary on the Torah grew out of the lectures he gave to his students in his yeshiva, and evolved with the questions and answers they raised on it. Rashi only completed this commentary in the last years of his life. It was immediately accepted as authoritative by all Jewish communities, Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 and Sephardi
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 alike.

The first dated Hebrew printed book was Rashi's commentary on the Chumash, printed by Abraham ben Garton in Reggio di Calabria, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, 18 February 1475. (This version did not include the text of the Chumash itself.)

Rashi wrote commentaries on all the books of Tanakh except Chronicles I & II
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...

. Scholars believe that the commentary which appears under Rashi's name in those books was compiled by the students of Rabbi Saadiah of the Rhine, who incorporated material from Rashi's yeshiva. Rashi's students, Rabbi Shemaya and Rabbi Yosef, edited the final commentary on the Torah; some of their own notes and additions also made their way into the version we have today.

Today, tens of thousands of men, women and children study "Chumash with Rashi" as they review the Torah portion to be read in synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 on the upcoming Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. According to halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

, a man may even study the Rashi on each Torah verse in fulfillment of the requirement to review the Parsha
Parsha
This article is about the divisions of the Torah into weekly readings. For this week's Torah portion, see Torah portionThe weekly Torah portion |Sidra]]) is a section of the Torah read in Jewish services...

 twice with Targum (which normally refers to Targum Onkelos
Targum Onkelos
right|thumb|Interlinear text of [[Hebrew language|Hebrew]] [[Book of Numbers|Numbers]] 6.3–10 with [[Aramaic language|Aramaic]] Targum Onkelos from the [[British Library]]....

) This practice is called in Hebrew: "Shnaim Mikrah V'echad Targum". Since its publication, Rashi's commentary on the Torah is standard in almost all Chumashim produced within the Orthodox Jewish
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 community.

Commentary on the Talmud



Rashi wrote the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud. Rashi's commentary, drawing on his knowledge of the entire contents of the Talmud, attempts to provide a full explanation of the words and of the logical structure of each Talmudic passage. Unlike other commentators, Rashi does not paraphrase or exclude any part of the text, but elucidates phrase by phrase. Often he provides punctuation in the unpunctuated text, explaining, for example, "This is a question"; "He says this in surprise," "He repeats this in agreement," etc.

As in his commentary on the Tanakh, Rashi frequently illustrates the meaning of the text using analogies to the professions, crafts, and sports of his day. He also translates difficult Hebrew or Aramaic words into the spoken French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 of his day, giving latter-day scholars a window into the vocabulary and pronunciation of Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

.

Rashi exerted a decisive influence on establishing the correct text of the Talmud. Up to and including his age, texts of each Talmudic tractate were copied by hand and circulated in yeshivas. Errors often crept in: sometimes a copyist would switch words around, and other times incorporate a student's marginal notes into the main text. Because of the large number of merchant-scholars who came from throughout the Jewish world to attend the great fairs in Troyes, Rashi was able to compare different manuscripts and readings in Tosefta
Tosefta
The Tosefta is a compilation of the Jewish oral law from the period of the Mishnah.-Overview:...

, Jerusalem Talmud
Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

, Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

, Targum
Targum
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

, and the writings of the Geonim
Geonim
Geonim were the presidents of the two great Babylonian, Talmudic Academies of Sura and Pumbedita, in the Abbasid Caliphate, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community world wide in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta who wielded secular authority...

, and determine which readings should be preferred. However, in his humility, he deferred to scholars who disagreed with him. For example, in Chulin
Kodashim
Kodashim or Qodhashim is the fifth Order in the Mishna . Of the six Orders of the Mishna, it is the third longest...

 4a, he comments about a phrase, "We do not read this. But as for those who do, this is the explanation…"

Rashi's commentary, which covers nearly all of the Babylonian Talmud (a total of 30 tractates), has been included in every version of the Talmud since its first printing in the fifteenth century. It is always situated towards the middle of the opened book display; i.e., on the side of the page closest to the binding.

Some of the other printed commentaries which are attributed to Rashi were composed by others, primarily his students. In some commentaries, the text indicates that Rashi died before completing the tractate, and that it was completed by a student. This is true of the tractate Makkot, the concluding portions of which were composed by his son-in-law, Rabbi Judah ben Nathan, and of the tractate Bava Batra
Bava Batra
Bava Batra is the third of the three tractates in the Talmud in the order Nezikin; it deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of property. It is part of Judaism's oral law...

, finished (in a more detailed style) by his grandson, the Rashbam. There is a legend that the commentary on Nedarim, which is clearly not his, was actually composed by his daughters.

Responsa


About 300 of Rashi's responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 and halakhic decisions are extant. These responsa were copied and preserved by his students. Siddur Rashi, compiled by an unknown student, also contains Rashi's responsa on prayer. Other compilations include Sefer Hapardes, edited by Rabbi Shemayah, Rashi's student, and Sefer Haoraah, prepared by Rabbi Nathan Hamachiri.

Legacy



Rashi's commentary on the Talmud continues to be a key basis for contemporary rabbinic scholarship and interpretation. Without Rashi's commentary, the Talmud would have remained a closed book. With it, any student who has been introduced to its study by a teacher can continue learning on his own, deciphering its language and meaning with the aid of Rashi.

The Schottenstein Edition interlinear translation of the Talmud bases its English-language commentary primarily on Rashi, and describes his continuing importance as follows:

In 2006, the Jewish National and University Library
Jewish National and University Library
The National Library of Israel , is the national library of Israel...

 at Hebrew University put on an exhibit commemorating the 900th anniversary of Rashi's death (2005), showcasing rare items from the library collection written by Rashi, as well as various works by others concerning Rashi.

Supercommentaries


Voluminous supercommentaries have been published on Rashi's commentaries on the Bible and Talmud, including Gur Aryeh by Rabbi Judah Loew (the Maharal), Sefer ha-Mizrachi by Rabbi Elijah Mizrachi
Elijah Mizrachi
Elijah Mizrachi was a Talmudist and posek, an authority on Halakha. He is best known for his Sefer ha-Mizrachi, a supercommentary on Rashi's commentary on the Torah...

 (the Re'em), and Yeri'ot Shlomo by Rabbi Solomon Luria
Solomon Luria
Solomon Luria was one of the great Ashkenazic poskim and teachers of his time. He is known for his work of Halakha, Yam Shel Shlomo, and his Talmudic commentary Chochmat Shlomo...

 (the Maharshal). Almost all rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

 published since the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 discusses Rashi, either using his view as supporting evidence or debating against it.

Rashi's explanations of the Chumash were also cited extensively in Postillae Perpetuae by Nicholas de Lyra (1292–1340), a French Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

. De Lyra's book was one of the primary sources that was used in Luther's translation of the Bible.

Of note in recent times is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson , known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or just the Rebbe among his followers, was a prominent Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and last Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was fifth in a direct paternal line to the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel...

's novel interpretation of Rashi's commentary, which was delivered in a series of public talks that began in 1964 and continued for over 25 years. These talks are printed mostly in Likkutei Sichos
Likkutei Sichos
Likkutei Sichos, lit. "Collected Talks," is an anthology of essays by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, relating to the weekly portion of the Torah and special occasions in the Jewish and Hasidic calendar....

, and compiled in Hebrew in the 5 volume set of Biurim LePirush Rashi. Schneerson formulated many basic principles for use in interpretation of Rashi's commentary.

"Rashi script"




The semi-cursive typeface in which Rashi's commentaries are printed both in the Talmud and Tanakh is often referred to as "Rashi script." This does not mean that Rashi himself used such a script: the typeface is based on a 15th century Sephardic semi-cursive hand. What would be called "Rashi script" was employed by early Hebrew typographers such as the Soncino family and Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg was an early printer of Hebrew language books. A Christian, born in Antwerp, he was primarily active in Venice between 1516 and 1549....

, a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 printer in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, in their editions of commented texts (such as the Mikraot Gedolot
Mikraot Gedolot
The Mikraot Gedolot "Great Scriptures," often called the "Rabbinic Bible" in English, is anedition of Tanakh that generally includes four distinct elements:...

 and the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, in which Rashi's commentaries prominently figure) to distinguish the rabbinic commentary from the primary text proper, for which a square typeface was used.

Resources


Wikisource