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'asher Ben-Yehiel

'ASHER BEN-YEHIEL (known as Rosh), Jewish rabbi and codifier, was born in the Rhine district c.1250, and died in Toledo 1327. Endangered by the persecutions inflicted on the German Jews in the 13th century, 'Asher fled to Spain, where he was made rabbi of Toledo. His enforced exile impoverished him, and from this date begins an important change in the status of medieval rabbis. Before the 14th century, rabbis had obtained a livelihood by the exercise of some secular profession, particularly medicine, and received no salary for performing the rabbinic function. This was now changed. A disciple of Meir of Rothenburg, 'Asher's sole interest was in the Talmud. He was a man of austere piety, profound and narrow. He was a determined opponent of the study of philosophy, and thus was antipathetic to the Spanish spirit. The Jews of Spain continued, nevertheless, devotees of secular sciences as well as of rabbinical lore. 'Asher was the first of the German rabbis to display strong talent for systematization, and his chief work partook of the nature of a compendium of the Talmud. Compiled between 1307 and 1314, 'Asher's Compendium resembled, and to a large extent superseded, the work of 'Al-phasi (q.v.). 'Asher's Compendium is printed in most editions of the Talmud, and it differed from previous Compendia in greater simplicity and in the deference shown to German authorities. 'Asher's son Jacob, who died at Toledo before 1340, was the author of the four Turim, a very profound and popular codification of rabbinical law. This work was the standard code until Joseph Qaro directly based on it his widely accepted Code of Jewish law, the Shulhan 'Arukh.

(I. A.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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