14th Century Gedolim


Rav Nissim the son of Reuven was born in Spain in the early part of the 14th century (or late 13th). He is best known for his Talmudic commentary, which is more directly written as a commentary on Rif's Sefer HaHalachot. In addition, he authored Derashot HaRan, a series of expository lectures on the fundamentals of Judaism. He studied under his father as well as under Rav Peretz HaKohein, and was the teacher of Rav Ephraim Vidal and Rav Chasdai Crescas. He passed away around 1380.



Rav David Abudraham was the author of a halachic guide to the prayers. He succeeded in his goal of composing a work that would reach the masses and further their understanding of the services. He lived in Seville around the turn of the century and was a student of the Ba'al HaTurim.



Born in Barcelona in 1326, Rav Yitzchak the son of Sheshet Perfet fled to Algiers in 1391 to escape widespread massacres. It was in Africa that he was appointed to be Chief Rabbi, a position recognized by the Algerian government. He wrote some commentary on the Talmud, which is preserved today in citations inShittah Mekubetzet, as well as many responsa which are still extant. His teachers included Ran and Rav Peretz HaKohein, and among his students were Rav Shem Tov HaLevi and Rashbatz. He passed away in 1407.


Rabbeinu Bechaye

A student of Rashba, Rabbeinu Bechaye the son of Asher lived in Saragossa, Spain in the early part of the century. His Torah commentary is noteworthy in that it presents four approaches to each verse that it investigates: a look at the plain meaning, in the spirit of Rav Avraham ibn Ezra and others; Midrashic exegesis; a philosophical approach incorporating works of science and philosophy; and a Kabbalistic approach. He also wrote several other works, including his ethical work Kad HaKemach.



Regarded as one of the leading halachic authorities of his time, Rav Yaakov the son of Moshe Levi Moelin lived in Germany from 1355 until his death in 1427. He is known to us mainly through responsa and through the glosses of Ramo on the Shulchan Aruch. He was a student of Rav Shalom of Neustadt and taught Mahari Weil and the author of Terumat HaDeshen.


Magid Mishne

Rav Vidal of Tolosa, who passed away in the middle of the century, wrote one of the most important works on the Mishne Torah. This work included the sources for Rambam's laws, and explained why some laws preceded others or were omitted entirely from that code, thus filling up many of the holes that critics of the work had complained about since it first appeared.



Also known as Rashbatz, Rav Shimon ben Tzemach Duran was born in Majorca, Spain in 1361. In 1391, in the face of massacres in Spain, he fled to Algiers, where he ultimately succeeded Rivash as Chief Rabbi. His most famous work is his responsa, known as Tashbetz, which discuss all aspects of Jewish life. He was succeeded by his son and student Rashbash.


Hagahot Ashri

Rav Yisrael of Krems, Austria is the author of these notes to the Talmudic/halachic commentary of Rosh. They serve as a source for many otherwise-unknown decisions of the Tosafists and until recently were a main source for the writings of the Or Zarua. He passed away around 1420.

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