Rabbenu Tam

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Rabbenu Tam , actually Jacob ben Meir Tam , Hebrew רבנו תם , (born around 1100 in Ramerupt ; died June 9, 1171 in Troyes ) was a French Jewish scholar and author of Tosafot , ie commentaries on the Talmud . He is a grandson of Rashi and brother of Samuel ben Meir .


Little is known of his personal life. He lived in the northern French village of Ramerupt, where he earned his living by lending money and growing wine. These pursuits were typical of the Jews there at the time, and he became wealthy. He received his education from his father and brother. After his father's death he attended the Talmud school in Ramerupt. During the Second Crusade , he was attacked by passing crusaders and narrowly escaped death in 1147. After this experience he left Ramerupt and went to Troyes.

Tam was regarded by all contemporaries as the most important scholar of his generation. Halachic problems were presented to him from southern Italy , and students from Bohemia and Russia came to his Bet Midrash (house of study). However, he himself did not travel outside of his native northern France. In cases where his halachic authority was not accepted, Tam wrote aggressive responses; He threatened the supporters of Meschullam ben Nathan from Melun with ban . He had a similar correspondence with his former student Efraim ben Isaak from Regensburg.

The Tosafot of the Babylonian Talmud are based on the explanations, glosses and decisions of Tam and contain numerous utterances by him. In addition, he wrote numerous and varied works. The best known is his book Sefer ha-Jaschar ("Book of the Righteous"), which was published in Vienna in 1811. It consists of two parts: responses and short stories to the Talmud. However, this book contains only a small part of his responses; others are scattered throughout the halachic literature and in numerous manuscripts.

As the first French Jew, Tam wrote numerous rhyming poems in Hebrew , in which he was undoubtedly influenced by the Spanish and Provencal scholars with whom he was in correspondence. He exchanged poems with Abraham ibn Esra . His pijjutim are written in the Franco-German style of the time.


Individual evidence

  1. Not to be confused with the much better known anonymous Hebrew folk book of the Middle Ages (12th century), which bears the same title; The first edition in 1811, which followed a Viennese manuscript and was organized and published by Jacob students, is full of errors, the Mekize Nirdamim Association obtained the second edition, with notes from Dr. Rosenthal, Berlin 1898