Jakob ben Ascher

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Jakob ben Ascher ( Hebrew ר 'יעקב בן אשר; born in Cologne in 1283 ; died on 1340 in Toledo ) was a halachic authority of the Middle Ages. After his main work Arba'a Turim in Hebrew " ארבעה הטורים "he becomes mostly Ba'al ha-Turim ( Hebrew " בעל הטורים ", "Master of the Ranks", or Tur ).


Like his brother Jehuda ben Ascher, Jakob was born in Cologne and studied with his father Ascher ben Jechiel . In 1303 the family moved to Toledo , where he lived in great poverty. He avoided exercising rabbinical offices and devoted all his time to studying.

Realizing that " logical conclusions had become flawed, disputes had increased, opinions had multiplied, so that there is no halachic regulation that is free from disagreement ", he decided to put together a work that contained all halachot and customs should include that affected the individual and the community.

Classification of the Arba'a Turim

Arba'a Turim literally means "four rows" and refers to the high priest's breastplate (see also Urim and Thummim ). The work is divided into four parts.

  • Orach Chajim , Hebrew אורח חייםthat is, “Way to Life,” contains 697 paragraphs on blessings , prayers, the Sabbath, and Jewish holidays.
  • Jore De'a , Hebrew יורה דעה, ie, “he teaches knowledge” or “teacher of knowledge”, deals in 403 paragraphs with Jewish food and cleansing laws, mourning laws and regulations on usury and idolatry.
  • Ha-eser , in Hebrew אבן העזר, ie “Stone of Help” (biblical place, 1 Sam 7:12) contains 178 paragraphs on marriage laws.
  • Choshen Ha-Mishpat , Hebrew חושן משפט, ie "breastplate of the law" deals with the entire civil and criminal law in 427 paragraphs.

The work was commented on in later centuries and forms the basis of the Schulchan Aruch by Josef Karo . The Arba'a Turim is followed by the Shulchan Aruch in its division into four major subject areas.

More work

Jakob ben Ascher also wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch , which was printed in Zolkiew in 1806, summarizing earlier commentaries by Saadia Gaon , Rashi , Abraham ibn Esra and Nachmanides . In doing so , he concentrated on the pschat , that is, the literal meaning of an expression, and avoided considering cabalistic explanations.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jakob Winter, August Wünsche: The Jewish literature since the conclusion of the canon. Volume 2, page 505, Verlag S. Mayer, 1894