ROSH, also HAROSH (_____, _____, i.e., "chief," " the chief"), stands by contraction for Rabbenu Asher, or Harab Rabbenu Asher (b. Yehiel), chief rabbi of all Castile. He was born in Germany about the middle of the 13th century and died at Toledo on the 25th of October 1327.
Rosh enjoys a sixfold celebrity. (1) He was a descendant of a long line of distinguished ancestors, among whom RABAN (q.v.) maybe specially named. (2) He was "the distinguished of the most distinguished disciples" of the foremost rabbi of his age in Germany, viz., Rabbenu Meir b. Barukh, better known under the name of R. Meir of Rothenburg, whose tragic fate even more than his learning and piety has endeared him to all Jews down to this very day. (3) He was the father of eight great Rabbinic scholars. (4) He was in his own right, after 1293 in Germany and after 1310 everywhere, the greatest Talmudist. (5) He was the first rabbi of the Ashkenazic school who possessed powers of systematization. (6) He was a man not merely of the deepest piety but of the sternest and, if we may say so, the most savage morality. Rosh, in despair at the state of affairs in Germany (some, however, say through his being involved in negotiations with the emperor for the delivery of the body of his master, which he could not bring to a successful issue), left his home and travelled aimlessly about with his numerous family till he arrived in Provence. There he would have remained gladly had not the Maimonidean controversy broken out. He went therefore to Castile, where Toledo, jealous of Barcelona possessing such a great rabbi as R. Shelomoh Ibn Addereth was, received him with open arms and great respect and elected him their rabbi. Under his eyes the celebrated astronomical work Yesod 'Olam, by R. Yishak b. Yoseph Yisraeli, was composed.
Of the numerous works by Rosh, which have been printed times innumerable, we can only mention the most important:
(1) Commentary on the Pentateuch (see TIadar Zekenim, Leghorn, 1840, folio). (2) Commentary on the Mishnic treatises of the orders Zera'im and Tohoroth (see editions of the Babylonian Talmud). (3) Commentary on the whole Babylonian Talmud (ibid.; the Kissur Piseke Harosh is by Rabbenu Ya'akob, the author's son, see note 4). (4) Tosephe Harosh on several treatises (see Schiller-Szinessy, Catalogue, ii. pp. 76-94). (5) Responsa (Constantinople, 1517, folio, and reprints). (6) Halakhoth Ketannoth (see Talmud editions). (7) Hanhagah, Sevaah, &c. (Testament, <fcc, Venice, 1578, 16mo, and reprints). (S. M. S.-S.)
The above article was written by: Dr Schiller-Szinessy.