Jacob ben Yakar

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JACOB BEN YAKAR (d. 1064), German rabbi. Jacob was the principal teacher of *Rashi, who refers to him as "ha-Zaken," and also of Solomon b. Samson. Another of his pupils was the "gaon" quoted in the Shitah Mekubbeẓet to Bava Kamma, from chapter 7 onward. From Worms, where he was one of the earliest scholars, Jacob went to study in the yeshivah of *Gershom b. Judah in Mainz, and apparently headed the yeshivah for some time together with *Eliezer b. Isaac of Worms after Gershom's death. Later he returned to Worms, but toward the end of his life he again dwelt in Mainz, and it is there that his tombstone was found. Some regard him as the head of the Worms yeshivah and the initiator there of a method of study that differed from that of the yeshivah of Mainz, but the matter is not sufficiently clear. Jacob was Rashi's teacher in both Talmud and Scripture, and Rashi says that he learned most of his Torah from him. However, he refers to him by name only on rare occasions, where the matter was not absolutely clear to him; otherwise he quotes him without mentioning his name. Rashi refers to him as "my teacher in Scripture," excluding thereby his other teacher, *Isaac b. Judah. Joseph too quotes the comments of Jacob on Scripture. Jacob's teachings – particularly his rulings and "deeds" – are cited by Rashi and in the various books of the "School of Rashi." It is of interest that no written responsa by Jacob are extant. The Sefer Ḥasidim (ed. by J. Wistinetzki (19242), 245 no. 991) relates of him that, because of great humility, he was wont "to sweep before the Holy Ark with his beard" and Rashi too emphasizes the humility of his teacher (Maḥzor Vitry, ed. by S. Hurwitz (19232), 358 no. 321).


Epstein, in: Tarbiz, 4 (1932/33), 11–34, 153–92; V. Aptowitzer, Mavo le-Sefer Ravyah (1938), 356–7; Lipschutz, in: Sefer Rashi, ed. by J.L. Maimon (1956), 203–4; I. Elfenbein, Teshuvot Rashi (1943), 403, index; Agus, in: Roth, Dark Ages, 2 (1966), 214–9.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]

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Jacob ben Yakar

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