1902 Encyclopedia > Rashbam


RASHBAM. RABBENII SHEMIIEL BEN MEIR, commonly called, from his title and the initials of his own and his father's names, Rashbam, was born at Rameru (Ramerupt near Troyes, in France) about 1080. Ile was almost the greatest Talmudist of his time, the only two excelling him till 1105 being Rashi and later on his own younger brother, Rabbenu Ydalpb, better known as Rabbenu Tham. In Bible criticism and exegesis, however, he excelled all the men of the 1 1 th and 12th centuries, even if we include R. Menahem b. Helbo, R. Yoseph Bekhor Shor, and R. Yoseph Kara of the Franco - Ashkenazic school, and Abraham Ibn 'Ezra of the Sepharadic school. Rashbam was the son of Yokhebed, second daughter of RASHI (q.v.), and of Rabbenu Meir of Rameru (b. Shemuel). FIe suc-ceeded his grandfather Rashi as head of the Rabbinical college, and probably also of the congregation, of Troyes. Later, however, we meet him at other places, e.g., Caen, Loudun. He died about 1160.

Of his works the following are known. (1) Commentaries on the Bible : (a) his commentary on the Pentateuch, uncritically edited several times (ed. princeps, Berlin, 1705), and critically and most ably for the first time by Rosin of Breslau (1881, 8vo) ; (b) commentaries on most of the other books of the Bible, the greater part of which are now lost, but the existence of which is in early times fully testified to. Those on Ecclesiastis and Canticles I were published by Dr Jellinck at Leipsic (1855, 8vo) ; specimens of both books have been translated into English by Dr Ginsburg (Song of Songs, London, 1857, and Coheleth, London, 1861). (2) Com-mentaries on the Babylonian Talmud ; of these we now posseis only his supplements on Pesahim (leaves 99b-121b), Baba Bathrd (leaves 29a-176b), and Makkoth (leaves 19b sq. ; see the so-called. Bashi OM the Mph, in the Mishnah, iii. 5, catchword ;pm 51,1). Commentaries on five other treatises are distinctly referred to by old authorities,2 but Rashi's commentaries so thoroughly eclipsed all those written before and after him that none of them had a chance of surviving, except in the shape of a supplement (3) Additamenta or Tosaph,oth ; see Rabbinovicz evariee lectione,$), Preface, p. 13, and Steinschneider, Hebr. Handschr. in der kon. Bib. Berlin, p. 3. (4) Responsa ; see, for example, Ral,an (Prague, 1610, folio), leaves 143, col. 2, to 146b, col. 1, and elsewhere. (5) Of his controversies with Christians nothing is left except what is occasionally to be found in bis commentary on the Pentateuch. (6) On his book on the calendar calculations see Berliner Magazin, vii. p. 185. (7) On the true author of the commentary on Aboth, ascribed to Rashbam, see Taylor, Catal., No. 20. (8) Although the attack on his hernero-nyetion theory (commentary on Gen. i. 4, 5) was made by Ibn 'Ezra (Iggereth Hasshabbath ; see Kerem Hemed, iv. pp. 159-173, and Mib Hammaamarim by Nathan 6. Shemnel, printed at Leghorn in 1840, leaves 58a-66a) in Rash-bam's lifetime he seems not to have answered it. (S. M. S.-S.) BASHI (41:01), that iS, RABBENII SITEL031011 (Solomon, son of Isaac), N-vhence by Christian writers he is also called Isacides1 (1040-1105), was the greatest rabbi of the Middle Ages. He is equally important for Biblical and Talmudic study, and in the former connexion as inter-esting to Christians as to Jews from the influence of his exegesis on Luther's Bible (through De Lyra ; see vol. xi. p. 601) and on the English version of the Old Testament (mainly through Ibn 'Ezra, and still more through Kimhi). Rashi is the most eminent of the " sages" or "great men of Lothaire "2 (-176, i.e., Lorraine) in Nvhom culminated that movement of Jewish scholarship to which Charlemagne had given the first impulse. From the Jew Isaac, first in-terpreter and then ambassador in his famous mission to HartIn ar-Rashid, Charlemagne had doubtless learned how superior in literary attainments the Jews of the East were to those of the West, and therefore he gave great privileges to the accomplished Makhirites 3 who were introduced into the south of France, and spread Jewish culture and litera-ture there.4 Later on he brought from Rome to Mainz the Kalonymites, a family of distinguished Talmudists, poets, &c., of Lucca;5 and soon Spires, Worms, and Mainz (spoken of as Shura, n")v) became famous seats of JeNvish learning; their ordinances (Talskanoth Shum) were of norm-ative authority for centuries, and the study of the Hebrew Bible and the Babylonian Talmud steadily spread from southern Germany to northern France. Though Spires, Worms, and Mainz by the partition treaty of Verdun in 843 belonged to East Frankland, yet in Jewish literature Lothaire includes these cities ; and all the greatest doctors of Jewish lore in the south of Germany or north of France belong to the "great men" or " sages of Lothaire." Rashi Nvas born, in the year in Nvhich the last nominal gaon of Pumbaditha died, at Troyes, where his father Yishak was no doubt rabbi. R. Yishak was probably a disciple of R. Gershom ; certainly he was an eminent Talmudist.7 His wife, Rashi's mother, wa,s a sister of R. Shime`on hazzaken.5 Fier name is unknown, as is also that of the wife whom Bashi, according to Mishnic precept (Aboth, v. 21), married at the age of eighteen. Soon after his marriage, and with his wife's consent, he left her to prosecute his studies in Germany, returning home only from time to time.5 She bore him no sons, but three daughters.15 Bashi had at least six teachers, - (1) his father ; (2) R. Ya`akob b. Yakar (chief rabbi at Worms) for Bible and Talmud (Rashi on T. B., Pesaltim, 111a), a disciple of R. Gershom (Rashbam, ibid., and Siddur, ii. leaf 10a) and friend of R. Eli`ezer haggadol; (3) his successor, R. Yishak Segan Leviyyah (T.B., Begth, 24b), a, pupil of R. Eli`ezer haggadol ; (4) his mother's brother, already named (T.B., Shabbath,, 85b); (5) R. Yishak b. Yehudah, also a pupil of R. Eli`ezer, and head of the community at 3lainz (Pardes, xxi.); (6) R. Elyakim, head of the community at Spires (ibid., clix., clxxxi., ccxc., cccvi.). Besides the oral instruction of his teachers, Rashi had and used copies of, and commentaries on, sundry parts of the Talmud written by these scholars themselves or by their teachers or disciples (T. B., Berakhoth, 39a, 57b ; Shabbath, 10b ; R. Hasshanah, 28a ; Sukkah, 45b ; Siddur, ii. leaf 10a). He had also before him all the Jewish literature existing and known at his time, as the Bible, part of the Apo-crypha, all the Targums, sundry cabbalistic works (Sepher Yegrah, Hekhaloth, &c.11), both Talmuds, the Midrashim, Sheeltoth, Halakhoth, Gedoloth, Teshuboth lIaggeonim, the works of R. Mosheh Haddarshan, the lexicographical works of Menahem b. Seruk and Donash b. Labmt, and, last but not least, the commentaries of R. Gershom, which he used largely, but mostly silently.12 He also used the works of his own contemporaries, such as the `Arukh.13 His studies completed, Rashi returned to his native town and opened a school for Bible and Talmud. His fame quickly rose ; disciples gathered round him from the whole north of France and south of Germany, and men in office, who had grown grey in study, addressed to him " religious ques-tions," his "answers " to which give us insight into his character, piety, and ability." He died on 13th (not 26th) July 1105,15 having already seen two of his grandsons " inof a third, -who became the greatest Talmudist of his age.

Bashi, though not the originator of all that he teaches in his commentary on the Talmud, had so digested the whole literature bearing on that stupendous work that his teaching, even when it appears to be imitative, is really creative. In his Biblical com-mentaries he has not, of course, grammatical and philological knowledge of the modern type, but he had a very fine sense for linguistic points, which was not equalled, much less surpassed, by the greatest rabbis who followed lum. He gave satisfaction, if not to all, at least to the best of his time, and, as the great German poet says, "he who has given satisfaction to the best of his time lives for all ages."

Translations. -The whole commentary was rendered into Latin by PELLICANUS (q.v.), but never printed, and ag,ain by Breithaupt (3 vols. 4to, Gotha, 1710-14). This version includes the spurious commentary on Chronicles and is accompanied by notes. Of separate parts there are printed versions of Gen. i.-vi. (Scherzer, 1663), Gen. vi.-xi. (Abicht, 1705), Gen. xlix. (Loscani, 1710), Hosea (Mercier, 1621), Joel, Jonah (Leusden, 1656), Joel (Genebrard, 1563), Jonah, Zephaniah, Obadiah (Pontac,1556), Obadiah (Crocius, 1673), Malachi (S. de Muis, 1618), Ps. xix. (Id., 1620), Proverbs (Giggens, 1620), Canticles (Genebrard, 1570), Ruth (Carpzov, 1703), Esther (Aquinas, 1622). The Pentateuch was translated into German by L. Dukes (Prague, 1833-38, 8vo); Genesis was done by L. Haymann (Bonn, 1833, 8vo). Editions, especially of the Pentateuch, are very numer-ous. Only some of the chief can here be named,-(a) Oil the whole Bible, with the sacred text-Venice, 1545, 1595, 1607 (all three in 4to) ; Cracow, 1610, 4to ; Basel, 1618, folio ; (b) Pentateuch with text (all sm. folio)-Bologna, 1482 ; Ixar, 1490 ; Lisbon and Naples, 1491 ; (c) Pentateuch without text-Reggio, 1475, folio (the first Hebrew book printed with date); s. 1. et a., but before 1480, 4to ; Soncino, 1487, folio. MSS. of Rashi on the whole Bible are very rare, and even those which are supposed to be such turn out, on examination, to be either incomplete or defective, or both. There lies a precious MS. in Leyden (1 Scal.) ; but it is a trifle defective in Exodus. St John's College, Cambridge, possesses a still more ancient and precious MS. (A. 3 ; dated 1239) ; but it lacks the Penta-teuch and Ezra(-Nehemiah), and is defective in the end (though, it is true, only in Chronicles, which is not Rashi's, as mentioned before). But MSS. of Bashi on the Pentateuch, both old and good, abound. There are few libraries in Europe that have not one or two of this commentary. It is to be hoped, therefore, that Dr A. Berliner, who has already edited critically Raslii on the Pentateuch (Berlin, 1866, 8vo), although not on the faith of a sufficient number of MSS., will soon issue a second and superior edition.

B. Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud, intM1P.3-Rashi had not been dead a hundred years when it was felt in the learned world that no such master in the Talmud had ever existed before him, and that without his aid and especially his corrections of the text (then only embodied in his commentary), the sea of the Baby-lonian Talmud could not safely be sailed on. He became now the teacher even of the Jews in the East. He commented on the whole of the Talmud to which Gemara is attached (see MisiacAn), except on Ned,arim from leaf 22b to the end, Arazir and Tamid from begin-ning to end, Babc7. Bathrci from 29a to the end, and Makkoth from leaf 19b4 to the end. In commenting on the two last-named xnaseekbtoth death surprised him. Rashi on the Talmud has never been printed apart from the text, and so the first complete edition is that contained in the cditio princeps of the Babylonian Talmud (Venice, 1520-23, folio). Portions had come out before with parts of the Talmud (Soncino, 1483, and elsewhere later). There are MSS. containing Rashi on isolated Talmudic treatises in various libraries : the Cambridge University Library and British Museum have six each, the Bodleian twelve, the Paris National Library seven.

Tbe Religious Decisions (0' pm) given by Raili are to be found in various works, principally in the so-called Siddur (i. and ii.) and Happardes (Warsaw, 1870, folio)-called Happardes Haggadol to distinguish it from the abridgment by R. Shemuel of Bamberg (13th century) called Likkute Happardes (Venice, 1519, 4to)-a work of which Rashi himself seems to have laid the foundation, though other literature on other subjects is now mixed up with it. Of the same nature are inril 111:N (kindly lent to the writer by Dr Merzbacher of Munich) and Haorah (only in part printed). Various halakhoth, Sze., are also to be found in vanous inabzorim (e.g., the Cambridge MS. Add. 667, leaves 153-156, and elseWhere), the Shibbole Halleket, ii. (by R. iclkiyyahu b. Abraham Harophe, Cambridge MS. Add. 653).

Poems (n.11`D).-Rashi was no poet by profession and much less by genius ; but he had a tenderly &ding heart, and saw the horrors of the first crusade ; and he wrote Selilwth, (propitiatory and penitential prayers), which are by no means without their value. One is embodied in the additional service of the day of atonement and begins " Tannoth tkroth" (Reshal's Responsa, § xxix.), and several more, which form the acrostic Shelomoh bar Yisbalc, are found in the collection of the Selihoth of the Ash-kenazic rite. It is not improbable also that the Aramaic Reshuth iv. to the Haphtarah in Targum (introduction to the prophetic portion as given in Yonathau b. `Uzz`iel's Aramaic paraphrase), which is to be found in the Reuchlinian Codex (De Lagarde, Prophetm chaldaice, Leipsic, 1872, 8vo, leaf 492), is his. It is much his style, and the acrostic is Shelomoh (and not nvnv). t is also very probable that Reshuth v. is his. If so, he raust have composed it when very- young, as several expressions in it testify.

Le'azim (D413l5).-In his commentaries Rashi, like R. Gershon: before him and others after him, often introduces French words (chiefly verbs and nouns) to give precision to his explanations. Of these Le'azim there are certainly more than 3000, and they are most valuable to the student of old French. Unfortunately copyists, notably in Italy, and printers subsequently, have often substituted their own vernacular for the original French ; there are now even Russian words to be found in Rasbi. Four hundred years ago explanations of some of thEse Le'azim and of those of Eimhi were offered by the author of Iffafre Dardqx (Naples, 1488). Other contributions have followed intermittingly down to the present time (Brothers Bondi in Or Esther, Dessau, 1812 ; Dormitzer and Landau in Marpe Lashon, Odessa, 1865, 12mo). The labours of 31. .Arsene Darmsteter promise to be exhaustive, and are based on ex-tensive collations, see Romania, April 1872, p. 146 sq.

There is no satisfactory life of Rashi ; most recent accounts rest on a Life by Zunz (1822), which has not been reprinted in his collected works. (S. Df. S.-S.)

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