World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Isaac Alfasi

Isaac Alfasi
Born 1013
Fes
Died 1103
Lucena, Cordoba
Other names Rif
Occupation Rabbi
Religion Judaism

Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi ha-Cohen (1013 - 1103) (Hebrew: ר' יצחק אלפסי, Arabic : إسحاق الفاسي) - also known as the Alfasi or by his Hebrew acronym Rif (Rabbi Isaac al-Fasi),[1] was a Moroccan Talmudist and posek (decider in matters of halakha - Jewish law). He is best known for his work of halakha, the legal code Sefer Ha-halachot, considered the first fundamental work in halakhic literature. He was born in the Algerian city Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad, but spent the majority of his career in Fes, and is therefore known as "Alfasi" ("of Fes" in Arabic).

Contents

  • Biography 1
  • Works 2
  • References 3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5

Biography

Alfasi was born in Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad, the capital city of the Hammadid rulers of central Maghreb. He studied in Kairouan, Tunisia under Rabbeinu's Nissim ben Jacob, and Chananel ben Chushiel the recognized rabbinical authorities of the age. Rabbeinu Chananel trained Alfasi to deduce and to clarify the Halakha from Talmudic sources, and Alfasi then conceived of the idea of compiling a comprehensive work that would present all of the practical conclusions of the Gemara in a clear, definitive manner. To achieve this goal, he worked for ten consecutive years in his father-in-law's attic.

In 1045, Alfasi moved to Fes with his wife and two children. Fes' Jewish community undertook to support him and his family so that he could work on his Sefer Ha-halachot undisturbed. They also founded a yeshiva in his honor, and many students throughout Morocco came to study under his guidance. The most famous of his many students is Rabbi Judah Halevi, author of the Kuzari; he also taught Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash (the Ri Migash), who was in turn a teacher of Rabbi Maimon, father and teacher of Maimonides (Rambam).

Alfasi remained in Fes for 40 years, during which time he completed his Sefer Ha-halachot. In 1088, aged seventy-five, two informers denounced him to the government upon some unknown charge. He left Fes for Spain, eventually becoming head of the yeshiva in Lucena in 1089.

In a sense, Alfasi brought the geonic period to a close—the last of the Babylonian geonim, Rav Hai Gaon, died when Alfasi was 25 years old; Alfasi himself was called Gaon by several early halachic authorities. His "magnanimous character" is illustrated by two incidents. When his opponent Rabbeinu Isaac Albalia died, Alfasi adopted Albalia's son.[2] When Alfasi was himself on the point of death, he recommended as his successor in the Lucena rabbinate, not his own son, but his pupil Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash.

Works

Sefer ha-Halachot (ספר ההלכות; also referred to as "the Hilchot of the Rif") extracts all the pertinent legal decisions from the three Talmudic orders Moed, Nashim and Nezikin as well as the tractates of Berachot and Chulin - 24 tractates in all. Alfasi transcribed the Talmud's halakhic conclusions verbatim, without the surrounding deliberations; he also excludes all Aggadic (non-legal, homiletic) matter as well as discussion of the halakha practicable only in Land of Israel. Maimonides wrote that Alfasi's work "has superseded all the geonic codes…for it contains all the decisions and laws which we need in our day…".

Sefer ha-Halachot plays a fundamental role in the development of Halakha. Firstly, "the Rif" succeeded in producing a Digest, which became the object of close study, and led in its turn to the great Codes of Maimonides and of Rabbi Joseph Karo. Secondly, it served as one of the "Three Pillars of Halakha", as an authority underpinning both the Arba'ah Turim and the Shulkhan Arukh. Rabbi Nissim of Gerona (the RaN) compiled a detailed and explicit commentary on this work; In yeshivot "the Rif and the RaN" are regularly studied as part of the daily Talmudic schedule.

This work was published prior to the times of Rashi and other commentaries, and resulted in a profound change in the study practices of the scholarly Jewish public in that it opened the world of the gemara to the public at large. It soon became known as the Talmud Katan ("Little Talmud"). At the close of the Middle Ages, when the Talmud was banned in Italy, Alfasi's code was exempted so that from the 16th to the 19th centuries his work was the primary subject of study of the Italian Jewish community. Alfasi also occupies an important place in the development of the Sephardi method of studying the Talmud. In contradistinction to the Ashkenazi approach, the Sephardim sought to simplify the Talmud and free it from casuistical detail; see for example Chananel Ben Chushiel.

Alfasi also left many responsa. These were originally written in Arabic, and were soon translated into Hebrew as "She'elot u-Teshuvot ha-Rif".

References

  1. ^
  2. ^ http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112370/jewish/Rabbi-Yitzchak-Ben-Baruch-Albalia.htm

See also

External links

  • The Rif, tzemachdovid.org
  • Alfasi, jewishvirtuallibrary.org
  • Alfasi at the Wayback Machine (archived March 11, 2007) jewishgates.com
  • Alfasi, jewishencyclopedia.com
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.