Judah ben Yakar

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JUDAH BEN YAKAR (d. between 1201 and 1218), talmudist and kabbalist, teacher of *Naḥmanides. Judah was born in Provence, but in his youth he moved to northern France where he studied under *Isaac b. Abraham, the tosafist. Subsequently he went to Barcelona where his signature is found on a document of 1175. From other documents signed by Abraham b. Judah of Narbonne, who was apparently his son, the years of Judah's death can be established as between 1201 and 1218. Judah was also a kabbalist, having studied under *Isaac the Blind. In his lifetime Judah was famous for two large works. One – which has been completely lost – was a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud and was one of the earliest systematic commentaries on it. It is frequently quoted by the early authorities and covered at least a large part of the orders of Mo'ed and Nezikin. His other work is the Ma'yan Gannim, a rational commentary on the liturgy and blessings, though the esoteric element is by no means absent. His aim in this work was to show the scriptural and rabbinic versions and sources of the prayers and to detail the various laws connected with them. The commentary was published on the basis of a number of manuscripts by S. Yerushalmi (1968). The work is frequently cited by the rishonim, among them Jacob ha-Kohen of Lunel and David *Abudarham. The latter quotes him literally in almost every halakhah, without, however, mentioning his name. Judah's main claim to fame in subsequent generations was that he was one of the teachers of Naḥmanides, who refers to him in his works. It seems that he was one of the channels through which Naḥmanides became acquainted with the literature and methods of study of the tosafists.


Judah b. Yakar, Perush ha-Tefillot ve-ha-Berakhot, ed. by S. Yerushalmi (1968), introd.; D. Zomber, in: mgwj, 9 (1860), 421–6; G. Scholem, in: Tarbiz, 3 (1932), 276f; C.B. Chavel, Rabbenu Moshe b. Naḥman (1967), 38–44.

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]