RASHI, ra-shî': French rabbi, commentator on Bible and Talmud; b. at Troyes (90 m. e.s.e. of Paris) in 1040; d. there July 13, 1105. The name Rashi is made up of the vocalized initials of his title and name, Rabbi Solomon (bar) Isaac. Because of his great natural endowments, he was sent at a very early age to a talmudic school in Mainz, over which Gershom had presided, where Jacob ben Yakar became his teacher; later, in the high school at Worms, he was a pupil of Isaac ben Eleazar Ha-Levi and Isaac ben Judah. After his return to his native city he was appointed rabbi, filling this position without remuneration until his death, and becoming celebrated far and wide as an authority on the Talmud.
In Rashi's time the sources for a commentary on the books of the Old Testament were very meager; he was therefore compelled to utilize very imperfect studies of Menahem ben Saru$ and Dunash ben Labral. At that period the French language was still in its very beginnings, so that it was impossible for Rashi to translate the finished Hebrew into
Rashi surpasses all his predecessors as an expositor of the Talmud. With a few well-chosen words he illuminates the obscurity of the often in comprehensible text. The readings he proposed are still authoritative and he is an indispensable aid to those who study the Talmud. Menahem ben Zerah justly remarks in his work Zedah la-Derek ("Viaticum"; Ferrara, 1554) that without Rashi the Babylonian Talmud would be as much neglected as is the Jerusalem Talmud. The commentary to Bereshith rabba ascribed to Rashi is not his work but that of an Italian contemporary. On his death in 1105, he left a flourishing school of disciples who continued his work and brought it to a close, always in his spirit.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The commentary on the Pentateuch was fist printed at Reggio, 1475, then at Soncino, 1487, new critical ed., by A. Berliner, Berlin, 1866; the first ed. of the commentary on the 0. T. was Venice, 1525, under the title Mikraolh Gedholoth. For full information of editions of the commentary or parts cf. J. Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaaca, ii. 78 sqq., Leipsic, 1863; cf. JE, x. 325-326. The first ed. of the commentary on the Talmud was Venice, 1520-22. On Rashi consult: M. Liber. Rashi, Philadeiphia, 1906; JR. x. 324-328; L. Zuns, in Zeitschrift für die Wiseenschaft des Judenthums, 1823, pp. 277-384; J. M. Jost, Gesehichte der lsraeliten, v. 243-248, 375-376, Berlin, 1822; H. Grätz, Geschichte der Juden, vi. 64 sqq., Leipsic, 1894; A. Berliner. Beitrage sur Geschichte der Raschi-Kommentare, Berlin, 1903.
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