Abarbanel - A Torah commentator and religious
philosopher (Lisbon, 1437 - Venice, 158). He was extremely involved in explaining
matters of faith, especially in regard to the ultimate redemption. He served
as Minster of the Treasury in the Portugese and Castillian kingdoms, and he
led the exiles from Spain during the Expulsion. Towards the end of his life
he lived in Naples.
Alter Rebbe - Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi,
founder of Chabad Chassidism (1745-1813). Among his writings: Shulchan Aruch
HaRav, Halachic rulings with a brief elucidation of the reasons. Likutei Amarim,
a.k.a. Tanya, a guide for service of G‑d, faith in Him, etc.
Arizal - Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi, leading
Kabbalist. In addition to his own in-depth studies of the Zohar, he merited
a “revelation of Elijah the prophet,” who taught him the secrets of the Torah.
As a result, he developed a unique approach to Kabbalah. Although he only managed
to instruct his students for two years (after his revelation), his teachings
had an immense effect on all of Jewry, to this very day. His teachings were
mainly transcribed by his student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, in his books Etz Chaim,
Pri Etz Chaim, Sha’ar HaKavanot, etc. The teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov and
further development of Chassidut are also based upon the Arizal’s approach.
(Jerusalem 1534 - Tzefat 1572.)
Avraham ben HaRambam - Outstanding disciple
of his father, the Rambam. Philosopher, Halachic authority, and commentator
of the Torah. Leader of Egyptian Jewry. (1186-1237.) Amongst his books:
Birkat Avraham, Ma’aseh Nissim, HaMaspik L’Oved Hashem.
Ba’al Shem Tov - Rabbi Yisrael son of Rabbi
Eliezer, founder of the Chassidic movement. He involved himself in educating
Jewish children and simple folk, and he merited the revelation of the prophet
Achiya HaShiloni who taught him Torah. At the age of 36 he began to become known
as a leader, and to spread his teachings throughout the nation. Many of the
Torah greats joined the ranks of his students. Among his main teachings: Hashgacha
Pratit - Particular Divine Providence not only over every person, but even
over every detail in the world, inanimate, vegetable, and animal. Ahavat
Yisrael - The obligation to truly love every single Jew no matter who they
are, and the emphasis on the unique qualities of every Jew because of the soul
that he possesses, which is a part of G‑d Himself. (1698-Mezhibozh 176.)
Bamidbar Rabba - See Midrash Rabba.
Bechinat Olam - A book of philosophy about
the foolishnesses of this world and the eternal good of the World to Come. Authored
by Rabbi Yedayah HaPenini from Provence. (He lived circa 129.)
Ben Porat Yoseph - One of the earliest books
of Chassidic philosophy. Authored by Rabbi Yaakov Yoseph of Polna, one of the
greatest disciples of the Ba’al Shem Tov. (First printed: Koritz, 1781.)
Bereishit Rabba - See Midrash Rabba.
Chaim Vital - One of the scholars of Tzefat.
A student of Rabbi Moshe Alshich in Halacha, and of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in
Kabbalah. Later, the closest disciple of the Arizal, and transcriber of most
of his teachings. (Tzefat 1543 - 162.)
Chid”a - Rabbi Chaim Yoseph David Azulai,
one of the great Sephardic scholars in Israel. He often traveled as an emissary
of the community in Israel to collect support for them in the Diaspora. Everywhere
he went, he expressed interest in the local books, both in print and in manuscript.
He disseminated Torah, was an accepted Halachic authority, a Kabbalist, an orator,
an expert in history, and a professional bibliographer. He wrote more than fifty
books. (Jerusalem 1727 - Livorno 186.)
Choshen Mishpat- See Shulchan Aruch.
Devarim Rabba - See Midrash Rabba.
Emunah U’Mada - A compendium of the Lubavitcher
Rebbe’s letters and talks on science-related issues. Kefar Chabad, 1977.
Emunot VeDe’ot - The first philosophy book
from a Jewish perspective. Authored by Rabbi Sa’adyah Gaon (passed
Esther Rabba - See Midrash Rabba.
Even HaEzer - See Shulchan Aruch.
Frierdiker Rebbe– the previous Lubavitcher
Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneerson of Lubavitch, sixth in the Chabad dynasty.
He is famous for his selfless devotion to the cause of advancing Jewish education
and observance although forbidden under the Communist regime. Afterwards, the
movement relocated to Latvia, then to Poland, and then to Brooklyn, NY. There,
too, he fought for Jewish education without compromise, and for the dissemination
of Judaism amongst all Jews (188-195).
Gili’on HaShas - Notes recorded by Rabbi Akiva
Eiger (1761-1837) in the margins of his Talmud (as well as Shulchan Aruch and
many other books). They are printed in the margins of the Vilna edition of the
Talmud, among others.
Gri”z - Rabbi Yitzchak Ze’ev, son of Rabbi
Chaim Soloveitchik. He continued the dynasty by serving as Rav of Brisk, Lithuania.
Towards the end of his life he lived in Jerusalem.
Hai Gaon- Son of Rabbi Shereira Gaon. Dean
of the Yeshiva of Pumbedita in Babylonia. He was a scion of a family who traced
their lineage back to King David. He was the leader of his generation, taught
many disciples, wrote books of rulings and commentaries on the Talmud, and wrote
thousands of responsa to Jews throughout the diaspora. He wrote Biblical commentaries,
and essays on faith and issues in Judaism. His death marked the end of the Gaonic
HaKeriah VeHakedusha- Journal published in
the United States during the Holocaust, 1941-1945, by Agudas Chassidei Chabad
in Brooklyn, NY. It was printed under the direction of the Previous Lubavitcher
Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneersohn. In fact, he himself participated with
Chassidic discourses and other articles. The journal was mostly Yiddish, with
some parts in Hebrew and English. It dealt with explaining the issue of the
ultimate Redemption, the wait and hope for it, as well as preparations towards
it. It also dealt with the struggle for the preservation of Torah-true Judaism,
without compromise and without concession to the “spirit of the times.” It has
not yet been reprinted.
Hanachot BeLahak - (transcripts of talks by
the Lubavitcher Rebbe that were translated from the original Yiddish to Hebrew).
See Introduction, Part “a”.
HaYom Yom Calendar - (19 Kislev 573-4). It
includes Chabad customs, sayings, stories, and short teachings from the leaders
of Chabad. Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe from amongst the writings of his
father in law, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak. It has been printed in many editions.
Ibn Ezra- Rabbi Avraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra,
a Biblical commentator, philosopher, composer, linguist, astronomer, and doctor.
His commentary on the Torah tends towards the literal, but he strongly criticized
the Karaites and their like who did not believe in the Oral Torah. (Spain 19
Kesef Mishnah - Commentary on the Rambam’s
Yad HaChazakah by Rabbi Yoseph Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch.
Ketzot HaChoshen - Novella and notes on Shulchan
Aruch Chosen Mishpat- very sharp and intricate - by Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaKohen
Heller, Rabbi of Stari, Galicia. (Lvov/Lemberg, 1788.)
Korban HaEdah - One of the most famous commentaries
printed on the margins of the Jerusalem Talmud. His commentary concisely presents
the simple meaning of the text, similar to Rashi’s commentary on the Babylonian
Talmud. It includes also a more in-depth commentary, comparable to the Tosafot
, which is called Shirei HaKorban. Penned by Rabbi David Frankel, Rabbi
of Greater Dessau, and later of Berlin. He passed away in the middle of writing
it, and did not merit to complete it. (On Moed, Nashim, and
part of Nezikin. Dessau, Germany, 1743.)
Kuzari - A book defending the Jewish faith,
by Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (circa 1075-1141). Among the first books composed on
Jewish thought. It is written as the story of the Kazhari king’s conversion
to Judaism, with conversations between the king and the Jewish sage concerning
the Jewish religion. He establishes the Divine revelation at Sinai and the unbroken
chain of tradition as the basis of our faith, and puts special emphasis on the
uniqueness of the people of Israel and the land of Israel, as well as the advantages
of practical Mitzvot.
Levush– Pen name of author of a set of ten
books called Levush Malchut , or Levushimfor short. The first
five books deal with the Tur : Levush HaTechelet, Levush HaChur
on Orach Chaim, Levush Ateret Zahav on Yoreh De’ah, Levush HaButz
VeHa’Argaman on Even HaEzer, Levush Ir Shushan on Choshen
Mishpat. What stands out about these books is their brief presentation
of the final rulings with their reasons. (153-1612.)
Likutei Sichot - See Introduction, Part “a”.
Likutei Torah - See Torah Ohr.
Ma’amarim – Chassidic Discourses - Concepts
explained by the Rebbes using the terminology and philosophical approach of
the Chabad system. (Not to be confused with Sichot, which are more
available and accessible to the broader public.) Most of these discourses begin
with a “heading” from a verse connected to the week’s Torah portion or nearby
holiday. First, several questions are posed on the understanding of the specific
verse. A deep discussion and explanation is then offered about the main topic
of the discourse (usually topics related to G‑d, the Torah, and the Jewish people,
and the connection between them). Only then does the discourse return to the
original questions, and answer them based on the discussion in between.
Maggid Mishnah - Commentary on the vast majority
of the Rambam’s Yad HaChazakah. Explains the Rambam’s decisions, words,
and order of presentation, as well as the sources upon which his words are based.
Author: Rabbi Vidal di Toulousa, student of the Rashba, often called HaKadosh.
(He lived in Spain, circa 134.)
Maharal MiPrague - Rabbi Yehuda Leva ben Betzalel.
One of the great Halachic authorities; a Kabbalist and an expert in the sciences.
He was a talented leader, and a great innovator in the area of Jewish education.
In his books, many issues are explained based on the ideas of Kabbalah, but
in a philosophical manner. He served for many years as the Rabbi of Nickolsburg
and the country of Moravia. Afterwards, he established a study center in Prague,
and then served as Chief Rabbi of Posen and Greater Poland. It is said that
he created a Golem, a kind of clay robot - through the power of the Divine Name
- to fight against the Jews’ enemies. (circa 1512 - Prague 169.) Among his
many works: Gur Aryeh on Rashi; Gevurot Hashem on the Pesach Haggadah; Derech
Chaim on Pirkei Avot; Tiferet Yisrael; Be’er HaGolah.
Mechilta- A Halachic Midrash on the
book of Shemot, attributed to Tanna D’vei Rabbi Yishmael. There are
some Aggadicstatements as well. (In the time of the Rishonim there
was extant as well a Mechiltaof Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
Mesechet Sofrim - One of the seven “small
tractates” appended to the Talmud. It seems that these tractates were authored
during the Gaonic period. In several instances, we follow the opinions rendered
in Mesechet Sofrim, since it was compiled after the Talmud. Its content: The
laws of writing a Torah scroll, Torah reading, prayers and other blessings,
Chanukah, Purim, and the month of Nissan. It also includes various Aggadic
discussions. It has 21 chapters.
Midrash Rabbah - A number of Israeli Midrashim
or homiletic commentaries (often known as Bereishit Rabbah, Shemot Rabbah,
etc.). From various periods. Mostly Aggadic, but some Halachic in nature.
On the Torah and Five Megillot. Midrash Bereishit Rabbah is
attributed to the Mishnaic sage, Rabbi Oshiyah, although it was completed
at a later date.
Midrash Tanchumah - An Israeli Midrash
on the Torah. The Midrash more commonly known by this name is from
a later date, collected from many sources. The old Midrash Tanchumah was
printed from an Oxford manuscript by R.S. Buber (Vilna 1885). It probably got
its name from the main expounder in the book, Rabbi Tanchumah bar Abba. In Yalkut
Shimoni there are teachings quoted from another Midrash of this same name, which
is not presently extant even in manuscript form.
Midrash Tehillim - Also known as Midrash
Shocher Tov because of the opening verse. R. S. Buber published an expended
version based on manuscripts, with many additions and explanations (Vilna 1891).
Migdal Oz - Memorial book in memory of Rabbi
Ezriel Zelig Slonim. Editor: Yehoshua Mundshein. Kefar Chabad, 198.
Mishna - The first authoritative collection
of the laws of the Oral Torah. Compiled by Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi. Written in
a clear Hebrew, though very different than Scriptural Hebrew. The Mishna is
comprised of six orders: Zeraim - Blessings and prayers, and agriculture-related
laws. Mo’ed - Laws pertaining to Shabbat and holidays. Nashim
- Vows, spousal obligations, marriage and divorce, etc. Nezikin - Monetary
as well as capital law, court proceedings, ethics, etc. Kodshim
- Matters pertaining to ritual slaughter, Kosher, the laws of sacrifices, and
those of the Holy Temple. Taharot - The laws of ritual purity and
impurity. There are a total of 63 tractates, containg 524 chapters.
Mitteler Rebbe - Rabbi Dov Ber Shneuri,
second in the Chabad dynasty. He dedicated himself greatly to broadening and
deepening Chassidism, and spreading its study throughout the nation (1774-1828).
Moreh Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed)
- Maimonides’ book of philosophy. Written for inquiring Jews who had studied
philosophy, and were looking for ways to explain Judaism within the scientific
and phiolosophic approaches prevalent in their time.
Orach Chaim - See Shulchan Aruch.
Otzar HaGaonim - A compilation of responsa
and commentaries of the early post-Talmudic era. Most of them gathered from
manuscripts. Compiled by Dr. Binyamin M. Levin.
Pardes - Its full name is Pardes Rimonim.
It is the main work of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, the chief Kabbalist in Tzefat
in the period prior to the Arizal. This book summarizes his approach to Kabbalah.
It was completed in Tzefat in 1548.
Rabeinu Bachye - son of R. Asher ibn Chalavah.
Kabbalist, and commentator. He explains the Torah in four methods: peshat
(simple meaning), derush (exegetical and homiletic), philosophical approach,
and sod (mystical and Kabbalistic). D. 134.
Rabeinu Chanan’el - son of Rabeinu Chushiel,
from Kiruan, North Africa. His commentary on most of the tractates of the Talmud
is short and clear and primarily received in tradition from the sages of Babylonia.
(1 - 153.)
Rabeinu HaZaken - See Alter Rebbe.
Rabeinu Tam – Rabeinu Yaakov ben Rabbi
Meir, grandson of Rashi, called ‘Tam’ based on the verse, “Yaakov was a wholesome
( tam) man, abiding in tents”. His questions and answers are the
basis of the Tosafot commentary on the Talmud. He was a respected
leader whose rulings promoted family values. His main work is Sefer HaYashar
, which includes novella on the Talmud, as well as halachic responsa. He
also wrote linguistic works and piyutim , or prayer-poetry. D.
1171, North France.
Rabeinu Yechiel - brother of the Tur and
oldest son of the Rosh. He wrote a book of rulings that is often quoted in the
Tur, written by his brother. He had much correspondence with his father. (1267
Rama MiPanau - Rabbi Menachem Azariah of
Panau, one of the greatest Italian scholars. He had Torah and material greatness
together. He studied Kabbalah from the books of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, and afterwards
from Rabbi Yisrael Seruk, a disciple of the Arizal. (1548 - Mantouba 162.)
Among his Kabbalistic works: Asarah Ma’amarot, Yonat Elem. His Halachic works
include Alfasi Zutah, and She’elot Uteshuvot.
Ramah - Rabbi Moshe Isserlish. One of the
greatest Halachic authorities, a Kabbalist, and a philosopher, Rabbi of Cracow,
Galicia. His most famous work is the Mapah - notes printed in the Shulchan
Aruch , which complete the Codes with the rulings and customs of Ashkenazic
communities. Some of his other books: Torah Chatat, Torah HaOlah, Mechir Yayin,
She’elot U’Teshuvot. (153 - 1572.)
Ramak - Rabbi Moshe Cordevero. See Pardes.
Rambam - Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides).
His father studied under Rabbi Yoseph ibn Migash, student of the Rif. He studied
science, medicine and philosophy as well. His family moved from Spain to Morocco,
Israel and then Egypt where he served as leader of the local Jews and personal
physician of the King. He wrote, in Arabic, a commentary on Mishna, as well
as Sefer HaMitzvot - which served as a preparation for his great work in Hebrew,
Mishna Torah, which includes all of the laws of the Oral Torah. He became very
famous, and questions about Halacha, faith, and customs reached him from all
over the world. He also wrote, in Arabic, his work of philosophy, Moreh
HaNevuchim, the Guide to the Perplexed. He also wrote many letters and
responsa, as well as medical works, etc. (Cordoba, 1135 - Cairo, 125.)
Ramban - Rabbi Moshen ben Nachman (Nachmanides).
A great Halachic authority, Biblical commentator, Kabbalist, linguist, scientist,
and doctor. He lived in Gerona, Spain, and was recognized as head and spiritual
leader of Spanish Jewry. Towards the end of his life he was forced to defend
Judaism in public debates with a convert to Christianity. Because of the ensuing
danger to his life, he was forced to flee to Israel. (Spain, 1194 - Acco, 127.)
Ramchal - Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato. Famed
Kabbalist and composer. As an adult he moved to Amsterdam, and later to Israel.
(Padaua, 177 - Acco 1747.) Among his books: Lashon Limudim, Pit’chei Chochma,
Rashi - Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki. Author of
the most well-known commentary on the Torah and the Talmud. He lived in the
north of France. In his commentaries he always chooses the interpretation that
fits best with “the simple meaning of the text.” His syntax is extremely concise
Raza”h - Rav Zerachia HaLevi Girndi, one
of the great Torah sages in Provance and a colleague of the Ra’avad - Rabbi
Avraham ben David from Pushkeira. He was knowledgeable in both Torah and the
sciences. He wrote critical “notes” on the Rif’s (Rabbi Yitzchak Alfasi) legal
writings. They are printed in the margins of the Rif. On Nashim
and Nezikin they are called HaMaor Hagadol , and on
Moed it is called HaMaor Hakatan. D. 1186.
Rebbe Rashab - Rabbi Shalom DovBer Schneersohn
of Lubavitch, fifth in the Chabad dynasty. Because of his clarity of expression
and the many categorizations in his discourses, he is known as the “Maimonides
of Chassidism.” He was the first to establish a Chassidic Yeshiva (Tomchei Temimim)
in which Chassidut was studied in depth and the students toiled in Divine
service as an inseparable part of the schedule of studies. This Yeshiva provided
the nucleus of those who would strengthen and spread Torah and Judaism with
self-sacrifice in Soviet Russia. The Yeshiva and its students served as trend-setters
for all the Chabad Yeshivas that would later spring up across the globe (186-192).
Rogatchover Gaon - See Tzafnat Pa’ane’ach.
Rosh - Rabbeinu Asher ben Yechiel. Among
the great early Halachic authorities. Born and raised in Germany, he was a dedicated
disciple of the Maharam of Rotenburg, last of the Sages of the Tosafot. When
his teacher passed away, he succeeded him as the spiritual leader of German
Jewry. In 133, as persecution increased, he fled to Spain. There he was appointed
head of the Bet Din and Yeshiva in Toledo. More than
one thousand responsa of his are still extant. His main work is Piskei
HaRosh , a reliable compilation of all of the Halachic rulings applicable
nowadays and following the order of the Talmud. He also composed a Tosafot
on the Talmud and commentaries on the Torah, Mishna, and several tractates.
Passed away 1327.
Russian government, printing was halted in 1837. The second
volume of the book, which was published only eleven years later on the books
Vayikra, Bamidbar, Devarim , and Shir
HaShirim , is known by a different name, Likutei
Torah. In the second volume there are incorporated also notes by
his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek.
– Rabbi Sa’adiah ben Yoseph, one of the greatest of the Gaonim
and dean of the Academy of Sura, Babylonia. He was involved in Halacha and Jewish
thought, song and Hebrew linguistics. He carried on a debate with the Karaites
by correspondence, and successfuly vanquished them.
Sedei Chemed –
A Halachic encyclopedia, in which every subject is clearly presented, from the
earliest sources to the Rabbis of his time. Compiled by Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyahu
Medini, Rabbi of Karsubzar in the Crimea, who became famous worldwide as an
expert in halacha. He later returned to the Land of Israel, and
was appointed as Rabbi of Hevron. It was first published in 1891, and has been
reprinted in many editions.
Seder HaDorot – Historical text containing
three sections: a) Yemot Olam - a chronology from the beginning
of Genesis to the book’s compilation in 1696. b) Seder Tana’im VeAmora’im
- The names of all the Sages of the Mishna and Talmud, as well as details about
their lives and some of their teachings. c) Seder Mechabrim Usefarim
- a bibliography. Author: Rabbi Yechiel Halperin, Rabbi in Halusk and later
in Minsk. (Published Karlasru, 1769. Edition revised by R. Naftali Maskil Le’eitan,
Sefer HaChakirah - First printed under the
title Derech Emunah. Discussion of philosophical issues from a
Chassidic perspective. Authored by the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem
Schneersohn, author of the Tzemach Tzedek , when he was involved
in debates during the conference of Jewish leaders convened by the Czarist Government
(starting from 1843) to discuss Jewish topics and Jewish education.
Sefer HaMa’amarim – Core teachings of Chassidut
by the various Rebbes of Chabad-Lubavitch. Known by the year during which the
discourses were said, e.g. Sefer HaMa'amarim 578, according to
topic, e.g. Sefer HaMa'amarim Bati LeGani , or by some other identifying
factor, such as Sefer HaMa'amarim Kuntreisim , which includes all
of the discourses that were published in booklets during the Previous Rebbe’s
sojourn in Poland.
Shaalot U’Teshuvot Chacham Tzvi – halachic
responsa of Chacham (Sephardic term for Rabbi) Tzvi Ashkenazi, Rabbi of Altona
and, later, of the Ashkenazic communities in Amsterdam and Lvov, Poland. (166
Shaalot U’Teshuvot HaRashba – halachic
responsa of Rabeinu Shlomo ben Aderet, Barcelona, Spain. Student of Rabeinu
Yonah MiGirundi and the Ramban. He headed the Academy, and wrote commentaries
on the Talmud, Halachic rulings (such as Torat HaBayit and Mishmeret
HaBayit), and Aggadic interpretations. People turned to him with
their questions from all reaches of the Diaspora. He wrote about ten thousand
responsa, of which about three thousand are printed, as well as books on other
issues. He was expert also in science and philosophy, and he protected Jewish
faith and tradition from attacks from both within and without. (1235 – 131.)
Shaalot U’Teshuvot HaRivash – halachic
responsa by Rabbi Yitzchak ben Sheshes of Spain, student of the Ran and Rabeinu
Krashkash. After the terrible persecutions of 1391, he became Rabbi in Algiers.
His responsa dissect issues from all sides. Rabbi Yoseph Caro wrote in the name
of his teacher, Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, that he relied on the responsa of the Rivash
more so than on other authorities.
Shaalot U’Teshuvot Maharam Shik – halachic
responsa by Rabbi Moshe Shik, a student of the Chatam Sofer ,
and one of the leading Rabbis of Hungary.
Shaalot U’Teshuvot Maharik – halachic
responsa of Rabbi Yosef Kolon. A student of some of the leaders of France
and Germany, such as the Maharil. He lived in Italy, and he issued clear Halachic
rulings regarding all areas of Jewish life. D.148.
Shaalot U’Teshuvot Shevut Yaakov – Halachic
responsa of Rabeinu Yaakov Reiser, who served as a Rabbi in Galicia and Germany.
Among others, he authored Chok Yaakov on the laws of Passover,
and Iyun Yaakov on the Aggadahs included in Ein Yaakov.
His books stand out because of their sharpness, and were lovingly received in
the scholarly world. d. 1733, Metz.
Shaalot U’Teshuvot Tzemach Tzedek – The
halachic responsa of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem (which shares
the same numerical value as Tzemach) Mendel (same numerical value
as Tzedek) Schneerson, third leader of Chabad Chassidim, and one
of the leading Halachic authorities of his day. (1789 – 1865.)
Shach – Sifsei Kohen , the
commentary of Rabbi Shabse HaKohen of Vilna on the sections of Yoreh De’ah
and Choshen Mishpat of the Shulchan Aruch. Poland,
Lithuania, and Czechoslovakia, 1621-1663.
Shav Shematsa – A series of seven essays
dealing with chazakah (assumptions) and sefeikot (uncertainties)
in the Talmud and halacha. Written by Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaKohen
Heller, author of the Ketzot HaChoshen (Lvov, 184).
Sheloh – Shnei Luchot HaBrit.
A book of ethics and halacha , which deals also with Kabbalistic
matters, and incorporates almost every topic within Judaism. Author: Rabeinu
Yeshaya HaLevi Horwitz (156-163). One of the great Rabbis of Poland, Lithuania,
and Russia. Towards the end of his life he moved to Israel.
Shem HaGedolim – See Chidah.
Shemot Rabba – See Midrash Rabba.
Shereira Gaon - Dean of the Academy of Pumbedita
in Babylonia. Especially famous for his responsa known as Igeret Rav Shereira
Gaon in which he describes the writing of the Mishna and Talmud, and
the way in which the Oral Law was transmitted from generation to generation.
He wrote commentaries on the Torah and Talmud, most of which were lost. His
son, Rav Hai Gaon, succeeded him. (96-955.)
Shevilei Emunah – Written by Rabbi Meir
Aldeby, grandson of the Rosh. The book deals with issues of faith, and includes
kernels of philosophy, as well as a comprehensive treatise on nature, Talmud,
and Halacha. Amongst others, it is a compilation of teachings from the Rambam,
Ramban, Rashba, and others. Seemingly, it was concluded after the author moved
from Spain to Jerusalem, in 136.
Shimshon Raphael Hirsch - Developer and
leader of a movement in 19th century Germany known as Torah im Derech
Eretz (“Torah together with the way of the world”). He held leading rabbinical
posts in many large cities, including Frankfurt, where he founded a separate
Orthodox community and established educational institutions where Torah was
studied along with the sciences. He encouraged his students to be proud of their
Torah heritage. His approach helped, at least temporarily, to stem the tide
of assimilation and Reform, in a period when many people considered Germany
lost to Torah-true Judaism. His views are followed in many schools today. Nonetheless,
many Torah leaders felt and feel that Yeshivahs and Jewish schools should teach
Torah only, and that Rabbi Hirsch’s apologetic approach was fitting only for
his time and place. (1808-1888.)
Shir HaShirim Rabba - See Midrash
Shitah Mekubetzet – also known as Asifat
Zekeinim. An anthology of early commentaries (e.g. Rabeinu Gershom, Rabeinu
Chananel, Ri ibn Migash, Tosafot Shantz, Rabbi Yeshaya di Trani, Rabbi Menachem
HaMeiri, etc.) on the Talmud. Compiled by Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi, Chief Rabbi
of Egypt, and later of Jerusalem (d. 1592). Parts of the book were first published
around 15 years after his passing. Some parts are still in manuscript form.
This book is extremely important for a proper understanding of the Talmud, and
arouses great interest amongst all scholarly circles.
Shmuel HaNaggid (Rabbi Shmuel the Prince)
- Vizier to the king of Granada; composer, linguist, and Halachic authority
Shome’ah KeOneh – This is a halachic
classification, which declares that one who hears various recitations (e.g.
Kiddush, Havdalah , the reading of Megilat Esther
, the sounding of the Shofar , etc.) that he is himself obligated
to say, to be considered as if he had himself said them, as long as both the
one reciting the blessing and the listener intended for the listener to fulfill
his obligation with this recitation. This is because of the fact that “all Jews
are responsible for one another,” which gives each person the obligation to
ensure that all other Jews fulfill all of the commandments as well.
Shulchan Aruch – The classic code of Jewish
Law authored by Rabbi Yoseph Caro, in Tzefat. He first composed his great work,
the Beit Yoseph , which includes all of the discussion and decisions
between the many different opinions, as a commentary to the Four Turim of
Rabbi Yaakov, son of the Rosh. They comprise: Orach Chaim (mainly:
laws of prayers and blessings, Shabbat and holidays), Yoreh Deah
(mainly: laws of Kashrut, idol worship, interest, education, vows, and mourning),
Even HaEzer (mainly: laws of marriage, divorce, and Yibum),
and Choshen Mishpat (monetary law). In this commentary, he deals
only with laws that are relevant nowadays. From the essence and synopsis of
this commentary, he developed the Shulchan Aruch (Venice, 1565).
Since for the most part he based his decisions on the greats of Sephardic Jewry,
his contemporary, Rabbi Moshe Isserlish (the Ramah), argued with his decisions
in many instances, ruling instead according to the authorities from France and
Germany. The composite of the two has become the most widely accepted legal
work in the Jewish nation.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav – See Alter
Sichot Kodesh – See Introductory chapters,
Sifri - Halachic Midrashim
from Israel, which pre-date the Mishnaic era. Compiled in the early generations
of the Talmudic era, on the books Bamidbar and Devarim.
On Bamidbar it is mostly Halacha , and on Devarim
mostly Aggadah. The accurate edition is by Rabbi Meir I Shalom
Talmud Bavli – A compilation of the discussions
between the Talmudic sages in Babylon throughout several generations, about
the Mishna , its interpretation, and its sources. Compiled and closed circa
5 by Ravina and Rav Ashi (d. 427).
Talmud Yerushalmi – A compilation of the
discussions between the Talmudic sages in Israel throughout several generations,
about the Mishna, its interpretation, and its sources. Compiled mainly by Rabbi
Tanchumah - See Midrash Tanchumah.
Tanya – Classic work of Chabad Chassidism.
Comprised of: Likutei Amarim (serving G‑d with love and fear),
Sha’ar HaYichud VeHaEmunah (belief in the oneness of G‑d),
Igeret HaTeshuvah (the concept of return in Chabad approach), Igeret
HaKodesh (a compilation of pastoral letters by the Alter Rebbe, mostly
about Tzedakah , which were published by his children after his
passing), and Kuntres Acaharon (elaborations of various issues).
Authored by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad. See Alter
Tiferet Yisrael – Commentary on the
Mishna by Rabbi Yisrael Lifshitz. A short and to-the-point commentary,
which includes many indices and synopses of various topics in Mishna and translates
the difficult words into German. (Germany, 1782-186.)
Torah Ohr – Chabad Chassidic discourses
on the Torah, books of Bereishit, Shemot , and Megilat Esther
, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad.
Tosafot – Discussions regarding the interpretation
of the Talmud, from the French and German sages, the disciples of Rashi and
their students for several generations, over more than 2 years (until 1328).
Some of them are included in the margins of the Talmud next to Rashi’s commentaries.
Tur - A book of practical Jewish law, compiled
by Rabbi Yaakov, son of the Rosh. It is split into four turim
(sections). Its structure was closely followed in the Shulchan Aruch, the
primary code of Jewish law in use today.The author passed away circa 1343.
Tzafnat Pa’aneach - Book by Rabbi Yoseph
Rosen, Rabbi of Dvinsk, Latvia, on the Rambam and more. This pithy text opened
a new approach to philosophical explanations of Halachic principles. Amongst
other innovations, his method was to divide every topic into three aspects.
For instance, with regard to the commandment of circumcision he explains that
there is: a) the act of circumcision. b) The commandment to be circumcised.
c) The commandment not to remain uncircumcised. The Lubavitcher Rebbe quotes
him often, and further develops his ideas.
Tzava’at Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol - An ethical
testament from Rabbi Eliezer HaLevi, to his descendants. He passed away in Mainz,
Tzemach Tzedek - See Sha’alot U’Teshuvot
Tzemach Tzedek; Sefer HaChakira.
Urim VeTumim - a commentary on Shulchan
Aruch Choshen Mishpat , by Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshitz (passed away 1764).
Vayikra Rabba - See Midrash Rabba.
Yad HaChazakah - See Rambam.
Yad Malachi - A book of the rules followed
in Talmud and Halachic authorities. Compiled by Rabbi Malachi HaKohen, an Italian
sage. It is considered to be one of the best treatises on Talmudic principles.
He lived circa 174.
Yerushalmi - See Talmud Yerushalmi.
Yoreh De’ah - See Shulchan Aruch.
Zohar - Primary text of Kabbalah. Tradition
identifies its author as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, student of Rabbi Akiva. The
Zohar itself comprises different sections. One is Ra’aya Meheimna, a compilation
of the Mitzvot, which is based on that which was revealed by the faithful shepherd
of the Jewish people, Moses, to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are also sections
that were revealed and made public at a later stage, such as Zohar Chadash and