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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Jacob ben Meir
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Hebrew Name(s): יעקב בן מאיר; רבינו תם
Other Names: Rabbeinu Tam, Jacob Tam, Jacob ben Meir Tam, Yaakov ben Meir
Period: Rishonim — 12th Century
Location: France
Dates: 1100–1171

Biography:
A halakhist, Rabbeinu Tam was Rashi’s grandson and brother of the Rashbam (Samuel ben Meir). His father was Meir ben Shmuel (Meir ben Samuel) and his mother, Yocheved, a daughter of Rashi.
 
Rabbeinu Tam's primary teachers were his father and his brother Shmuel (Samuel) ben Meir (Rashbam.)
 
Rabbeinu Tam is one of the most quoted Tosafists. He was a leading halakhic authority in his time for Ashkenazic Jewry and convened several Rabbinic Councils to enact rulings binding on French Jewry. It was his disagreement with Rashi on the correct order of the verses in the tefillin that led to the custom of wearing two pairs. (The Shulḥan Aruch sides with Rashi but recommends that God-fearing Jews were both in order to satisfy both halakhic opinions.)

Works:
Tosafot, Sefer haYashar (The Book of the Righteous)

Comments:
Sefer ha-Yashar is Rabbeinu Tam's best-known work. It consisted of a collection of both novellae and responsa on 30 Talmudic tractates which aimed to resolve Talmudic textual problems without resorting to emendations of the received text. All present editions of Sefer ha-Yashar are fragments collected from the original and show some corruptions from the original.

 

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