Rashi - Jewish History
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Troyes, France

Shlomo Yitzhaki, or Shlomo son of Yitzak, was a Jewish man born in Troyes, France, in 1040 AD. This was when the Capetian kings were ruling France. Shlomo was an only child, and at first he was home schooled by his father. When Shlomo was a teenager, his father died. Shlomo got married at 17, but soon he left his wife in Troyes and left home. Schlomo traveled to schools in Mainz and Worms, in the Holy Roman Empire (modern Germany). He went to school to study the Torah (the Bible) and Talmud.

When Shlomo was done with his education, he was a rabbi. Rabbi Shlomo, now 25 years old, came home to his wife in Troyes. When Rabbi Schlomo was about thirty years old, he opened his own yeshiva, or school, for the Jewish boys of Troyes. He taught the boys about the Talmud - the books of Jewish law. He tried to explain what the laws meant, and what you should do in different situations. People began to call Rabbi Shlomo "Rashi" for short.

When Rashi got older, he decided to write down all the stuff he had been teaching his students in his lectures, and make a book out of it. This was the first book that explained the meaning of the whole Talmud. Rashi died in 1105, when he was 65 years old, soon after he finished his work.

Rashi's explanations were so clear and helpful, that when printers began to print copies of the Talmud in the 1400s, after the invention of printing, they always included Rashi's explanations along with the Talmud itself.

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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