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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Moses ben Jacob of Coucy
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Hebrew Name(s): משה בן יעקב מקוצי

Period: Rishonim — 13th Century
Location: France
Dates: First half of the 13th century

Biography:
Moses ben Jacob of Coucy was a Tosafist and halakhic authority. He is best known for his work Sefer Mitzvot Gadol which contains codifications of halakhah. He was the son of Ḥayyim ben Hananeel ha-Kohen of Paris and studied under Judah ben Isaac, Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg, a certain Joseph (who may have been either Joseph of Chartres or Joseph ben Baruch) and perhaps also, Samson ben Abraham of Sens and Baruch ben Isaac of Worms.
Moses ben Jacob of Coucy travelled widely between France and Spain lecturing in synagogues on Mosaic Law but also teaching that observance of the law to the neglect of social justice was not meritorious. His proficiency in French, Spanish and Arabic and his eloquence as a speaker earned him the name "ha-Darshan."
 
In 1240 Moses ben Jacob of Coucy was one of four rabbis who defended the Talmud in a public disputation in Paris. It is likely that the decrees against the Talmud promulgated in France and the confiscation of all copies of the Talmud (1242) led to his Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (Large Book of Commandments.) Sefer Mitzvot Gadol draws upon Maimonides' Sefer Hamitzvot and Mishneh Torah as well as Rashi, the Tosafot and other commentaries.
 
Sefer Mitzvot Gadol is abbreviated at SeMaG to differentiate it from another work, Sefer Mitzvot haKaton (aka. SeMaK) by Isaac of Corbeil.
 
Commentaries on Sefer Mitzvot Gadol include Tosefe SemaG (Elijah Mizrachi), Ammude Shlomo (Solomon Luria) and Mitzvot Gadol (Aharon Price.)
 
Students of Moses ben Jacob of Coucy included his nephews, Isaac ben Hayyim and Perez ben Elijah of Corbeil.

Works:
Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (SeMaG); Tosefot Yeshanim; Peshatim.

Comments:
Sefer Mitzvot Gadol considers the 365 negative commandments and the 248 positive commandments in relation to talmudic and halakhic decisions. It also considers many moralistic and non-legal matters.
Tosefot Yeshanim (Old Tosafot) is a commentary on the Talmudic tractate Yoma.
Peshatim was a short commentary on the Pentateuch which is now lost but is quoted in Minḥat Yehudah (Judah ben Eliezer.)

 

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