Who was Rashi? Jewish history – Middle Ages

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Troyes, France

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 ruled France. Shlomo was an only child, and his father home schooled him. When Shlomo was a teenager, his father died. Shlomo got married at 17, but soon he left his wife in Troyes and left home. Shlomo 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.

The Mishnah is at the top center, the Gemara is in the center of the page, Rashi is on the right, and other later commentators are on the left and bottom.

The Mishnah is at the top center, the Gemara is in the center of the page, Rashi is on the right, and other later commentators are on the left and bottom.

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 Shlomo 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 everybody wanted to read them. Even when printers started to print copies of the Talmud in the late 1400s, they always included Rashi’s explanations along with the Talmud itself.

More about the Talmud
More about Maimonides
And more about medieval Jews
Hanukkah in the Middle Ages

Bibliography and further reading about the history of Judaism:

  

Talmud
Maimonides
Jews in the Middle Ages
More about Judaism
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By | 2017-08-24T15:49:10+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Medieval, Religion|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Who was Rashi? Jewish history – Middle Ages. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 24, 2017. Web. November 22, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

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, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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