Early Medieval Halakhic Texts

In the early middle ages, leading scholars across Europe and North Africa produced different genres of legal writings.

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Although Rashi himself did not engage in the writing of legal codes, important halakhic monographs were authored by his students, among them Sefer Ha-Orah (Book of the Way), Sefer Ha-Pardes (Book of the Orchard), Siddur Rashi (Prayer-book of Rashi), and Mahzor Vitri (Holiday Liturgy of Vitri).  Another significant legal work, called Even Ha-Ezer, was written by the tosafist Eliezer ben Nathan of Mainz (c. 1090–1170).

Although the codes of Alfasi and his successors did not ultimately succeed in replacing the Talmud, which has remained the foundation of Jewish law for two millennia, this form of halakhic writing has been adopted and refined by the greatest scholars over the centuries and has itself become a classic and enduring mode of legal expression.

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Rachel Furst is a Talmud teacher and a graduate student in medieval Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.