Rabbenu Tam

Rabbenu Tam
Interpretation, Halakhah, Controversy
Avraham (Rami) Reiner

Book Launch 31.5.21 - Join us for an informative evening on Zoom

Rabbi Yaakov Ben Meir (1100-1171), Rashi's grandson, known as 'Rabbenu Tam', was the first of the Tosafot who lived in France and Germany in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These pioneers shaped the halakhic debate in subsequent generations, and their bold regulations demonstrated exceptional leadership ability, all of which together influenced generations of scholars, commentators, and arbitrators, and left their mark on the interpretive and ruling trends of medieval sages throughout the Jewish diaspora. The intellectual and social world of Rabbenu Tam is discussed, including his biography, the identity of his teachers and the nature of their connections with him, the degree of familiarity with Rabbinic literature and his ways of using it, the ways in which he treated the Talmudic style, his influence on his contemporaries and their successors.

Professor Avraham (Rami) Reiner teaches at the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research deals with the history of Halacha and Talmudic interpretation.

Digital Edition Kotar

Danacode:   110-20309 ISBN:  978-965-226-599-9 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   512 Weight:   1100 gr Dimensions:  17X24 cm Publication Date:   03/2021 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press


Foreword 11

Preface 13

Part I: Origins

Chapter 1: Times and Places 29

Birth and death 29; Beginnings – the 1130s 30; From the late thirties to the mid-fifties – halakhic leadership 34; Later years: from the late fifties until death 36; Places: between Ramerupt and Troyes 39; Rabbenu Tam’s family 43

Chapter 2: Teachers 51

On information and modes of its transmission 51; Rabbi Meir ben Shmuel – Rabbenu Tam’s father 54; Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) 60; Additional teachers 75

Part II: The Library

Introduction 83

Chapter 3: The Yerushalmi (Palestinian Talmud) 85

The Yerushalmi in Europe before Rabbenu Tam – a partial survey 85; The Yerushalmi and Rabbenu Tam 88; Conduits of familiarity with the Yerushalmi: R. Nisim Gaon 95; Conduits of familiarity with the Yerushalmi: Rabbenu Hananel 99; Conduits of familiarity with the Yerushalmi: Rashi 103; Conduits of familiarity with the Yerushalmi: exchange of responsa with contemporaries – Ri HaZaken as a test case 107; The status of the Yerushalmi in the view of Rabbenu Tam 112

Chapter 4: Mishnah, Tosefta, and Midrash 116

Mishnah 116; Tosefta 120; Halakhic midrashim 139; Aggadic midrashim 150

Chapter 5: Geonic Literature 157

The authority of the Geonim in the view of Rabbenu Tam 157; Sefer Halakhot Gedolot 161; Geonic responsa 176; The epistle of R. Sherira Gaon 178; R. Hai Gaon and his works 181

Chapter 6: Liturgical Poetry and the Prayer Book 184

Introduction – R. Elie’azer HaKalir 184; Italian piyut, azharot, and other liturgical poems 194; The prayer book (siddur) and its emendation 196

Part III: Works

Chapter 7: On the Text of the Talmud in Rabbenu Tam’s Teachings 201

Between dicta and their interpretation 202; On the source of “texts that seem to be interpretation” in Rabbenu Tam’s view 221; On correcting books 224; On books: age and place 226

Chapter 8: Enactments of Rabbenu Tam 230

Chapter 9: From Interpretive Failure to the Dowry Enactment 242

Ketubot 47a – a Talmudic passage and its interpretation 242; The dowry enactment 251

Chapter 10: From the Enactment Prohibiting the Questioning of a Bill of Divorce to the Interpretation of the Talmudic Passage Concerning the Rebellious Wife 257

The enactment prohibiting the questioning of a bill of divorce 257; Ketubot 63b-64a – the passage concerning the rebellious wife: interpretation and halakhah 269

Chapter 11: Sefer HaYashar: Composition, Structure, and Distribution 279

Sefer HaYashar – the novellae section 279; Sefer HaYashar – between the novellae section and the responsa section 289; The responsa section – editing the collection of responsa in Sefer HaYashar 290; The responsa section of Sefer HaYashar – the collections of responsa 294; When the responsa section of Sefer HaYashar was edited 295; Toward a conclusion 297

Part IV: Influence

Chapter 12: Rabbenu Tam’s Halakhic Leadership 303

Chapter 13: From France to Germany – The Torah of Rabbenu Tam in Ashkenaz 316

Rhineland-Ramerupt-Regensburg: Rabbenu Tam’s wandering disciples 316; R. Yitzhak ben Mordechai 319; R. Ephraim ben Yitzhak of Regensburg 320; R. Eliezer ben Shmuel of Metz 327

Chapter 14: Between Influence and Dispute – Rabbenu Tam and R. Yosef Bekhor Shor 337

Preface 337; Imparting foul taste: a novel interpretation of R. Yosef and R. Tam’s reaction 337; R. Yosef’s objections to Rabbenu Tam’s innovations in Sefer HaYashar – the issue of “taste is treated as substance” (“ta’am ke-ikar”) 340; Killing a louse on Shabbat: a polemic and its sources 344; How to write nicknames in bills of divorce 346

Chapter 15: From North to South – Rabbenu Tam’s Influence in Provence 353

Chapter 16: Revisiting the Polemic between Rabbenu Tam and Rabbenu Meshulam 371

Preface 371; Dating the polemic 372; Approaches to understanding the background to the polemic 373; Interpretation based on comparison of terminology 375; The role of Scripture and Tannaitic literature in halakhic rulings and interpretation 380; Methods of Talmudic interpretation – the post-Talmudic literature 386; Methods of Talmudic interpretation – extra-Talmudic considerations 393; Conclusion 396

Chapter 17: Rabbenu Tam and Henri, Count of Champagne 399

Introduction 399; Did Rabbenu Tam write a biblical commentary? 400; The Count of Champagne turns to Rabbenu Tam 404; Toward a conclusion 412

Closing Thoughts 414

Bibliography 417

Indices 459

Professor Avraham (Rami) Reiner teaches at the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research deals with the history of Halacha and Talmudic interpretation.

Hananel Mack, "It was Accepted by All the Communities of France and the Rhine", Ha'aretz, 08.08.21 (Hebrew) (PDF)

Pinchas Roth, "Review: Rabbenu Tam", Tradition Online, 14.06.21 (PDF)