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Tosafot , also Tossafot ( Hebrew additions , additions ) are early medieval collections of commentaries on the Talmud , which are arranged in the order of the Talmudic treatises and were originally designed as additions to commentaries by Rashi . They are not a continuous comment, but a detailed explanation of individual passages.

The starting point of the Tosafot is generally not the Talmud itself, but rather commentaries on the Talmud from rabbinical literature , especially by Rashi. From humble beginnings, a movement for learning the Torah developed , which first spread to Germany and France (including Provence), and then to Spain at the time of Nachmanides . The leading editor of Tosafot was Rabbenu Tam . However, there are still many unresolved questions about the exact time and place of compilation of the Tosafot, its subspecies and their historical and literary development.

The Tosafot were noted as Schitot ("systems"), i. H. Interpretations of halachic discussions compiled, corrected and revised by the students of the yeshivot under the supervision of their teachers. About a hundred Tosafists are known by name, but in most cases it is impossible to distinguish individual stylistic traits.

The technique and style of the Tosafot are not limited to the Talmud; there is also a wide range of Tosafot literature on the Pentateuch . Here, too, the starting point is Raschi's commentary, a distinction being made between a German and a French style. The German style is generally recognizable by the frequent use of Gematria .

To this day, the Tosafot are an inseparable part of the Talmudic study, especially with the Gemara . The study of a “Gemara Page” relates to the text itself, the so-called Perusch (“Explanation”, i.e. commentary by Rashi) and finally the Tosafot.

The Tosafot were also criticized at the beginning; In the 14th century there were scholars who viewed dealing with it as pointless casuistry and a waste of time. This criticism intensified in later centuries as the casuistic methods of discussion of Pilpul and Chillukim ("differences of opinion", "arguments") developed further.

The (centuries older) Tosefta also comes from Jewish literature .


  • A. Schreiber et al. (Ed.), Tosafoth Chachmei Anglia , Jerusalem 1968 ff.


  • EE Urbach: The Tosafists: Their History, Writings and Methods. Jerusalem (2nd ed.) 1955 (Hebrew).
  • Encyclopedia Judaica , Vol. 15, pp. 1278-1283.