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Manuscript - Sefer ha-Yashar
[Ms.] Rabbenu Tam
This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
, 32 ff., 210:167 mm., ink on heavy paper, neat Ashkenazic script, 30 lines per page, light age staining, wide margins, loose in contemporary leather over wood boards split.
Classic work attributed to the tosafist Rabbenu Tam (R. Jacob ben Meir Tam). Although the author of this Sefer ha-Yashar - probably written in the 13th century – is anonymous, it is associated with R. Tam due to the fact that he too wrote a book by that name (Sefer ha-Yashar le-Rabbenu Tam, Vienna, 1811); his writing, however, is concerned only with halakhic problems. Neverteless, Sefer ha-Yashar was one of the most popular ethical books in the Middle Ages. The title page of this unusual and attractive edition has the heading “Let integrity úåí and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on you” (Psalms 25:21). It is dated with the verse, “Mark the perfect man úí, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace” (Psalms 37:37). The verso of the title page states that there are eighteen sha’arim in the book, and then lists them. Most of the unusual ideas are found in the first part of the work which describes the creation and explains why the wicked were created together with the righteous. Among the other contents are such subjects as intelligence, faith, love, awe, and wisdom; those things that help a man in the service of God and those that hinder him; repentance and all the things dependent upon it and the order of prayers and separation; insights into the world to come; consideration of a person of his day of death; and lastly, what is between a zaddik and rasha. Some manuscripts attribute the book to R. Zerahiah ha-Yevani, but there is no evidence to bear out the authenticity of such an ascription. Some scholars have suggested that the author might have been R. Jonah Gerondi, one of the foremost writers in the field of ethics in the 13th century; however, the difference between R. Jonah's known views and those expounded in Sefer ha-Yashar would suggest otherwise. Rabbenu Tam (R. Jacob ben Meir Tam, c. 1100–1171) was the son of R. Meir ben Samuel and the grandson of Rashi. He is the foremost of the Tosafists and was the leading Talmudist of the twelve century. R. Tam lived in Ramerupt, France where he engaged in moneylending and viticulture, typical occupations of the Jews there at that time. During the Second Crusade he was attacked by Crusaders who were passing through, and was miraculously saved from death (1146). After this experience R. Tam left Ramerupt. He was recognized by all contemporary scholars, even by those in remote places, as the greatest scholar of the generation. R. Abraham ibn Daud of Spain, and Abraham b. Isaac and Zerahiah ha-Levi of Provence refer to him with great esteem, while the scholars of southern Italy, some his senior in years, submitted their halakhic problems to him. Pupils came to his bet midrash from as far away as Bohemia and Russia, and took R. Tam's teachings back with them on their return to these lands. He won this great renown although he never moved or traveled far from his place of residence in northern France.
BE yod1116; EJ
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Kind of Judaica