Vidal Yom Tov of Tolosa

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated


VIDAL YOM TOV OF TOLOSA (second half of the 14th century), Spanish rabbi and commentator on Maimonides. Vidal came from Tolosa, Catalonia, where he compiled his commentary known as Maggid Mishneh, to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (often called the Yad) of which only the commentary to Books 3; 4; 5, chapters 1–9; 11; 12, chapters 1–3; and 13 is extant. According to one opinion, the commentary covered the whole of the Mishneh Torah, but because of the troubles of the period in which Vidal lived, most of it was lost, only a small part remaining (Conforte, Kore (18402, 26a)). It is more probable, however, that he limited his commentary to those halakhot which have a practical application. Since the Constantinople (1509) edition of the Yad, it has invariably been published with Vidal's commentary. Its purpose was to clarify difficult passages and to indicate Maimonides' sources. Vidal deals with the hassagot ("criticisms") of *Abraham b. David of Posquieres, endeavoring to answer them and objecting to their sometimes disrespectful tone. He tries to explain the basis of Abraham b. David's criticism, and at times justifies the views of both men, by proving that they were the result of different versions of the text. In his introductions to the various books of the Mishneh Torah, he explains the order of the halakhot given by Maimonides, stressing his view that much of the criticism of Maimonides would not have arisen if only the final arrangement of the Mishneh Torah had been in accordance with its author's conception. He emphasizes that Maimonides expressed his view in a methodical manner, explaining every topic in its correct context, and that he was especially successful in dividing up the laws, statutes, and precepts of the Torah "by giving the general principles before the details, the earlier in time or in cause before the later, and the more stringent before the more lenient" (Introduction to Zemannim). Vidal gives the sources and explanations in clear and succinct style and he tends to be stringent in his rulings, quoting *Naḥmanides, Solomon b. Abraham *Adret, and others.

Joseph b. Ephraim *Caro, in his introduction to the Kesef Mishneh, states that Vidal was a colleague of Nissim b. Reuben Gerondi, but his name does not occur in Nissim's works. *Isaac b. Sheshet, however, mentions him in his responsa. Caro refers to Vidal as kadosh ("holy"), and as a result it has been suggested that he died a martyr's death. A commentary in Arabic to the work on logic of al-Ghazzali, translated into Hebrew by Moses b. Joshua of Narbonne (in the Vatican library) has been ascribed to Vidal, as has a commentary on Job. Vidal died during the lifetime of Nissim Gerondi (Resp. Ribash no. 388). The Maggid Mishneh has been accepted as the standard commentary to the Mishneh Torah and many scholars have spoken in praise of Vidal, relying upon his rulings and describing his soul as having a spark of the soul of Maimonides. He is respectfully designated Ha-Rav ha-Maggid from the title of his work, Maggid Mishneh. Vidal's son Nizak (Isaac) was a talmudic scholar who lived in Alcolea de Cinca and was in contact with Isaac b. Sheshet (Resp. Ribash 473), who calls him "the son of holy ones."


Conforte, Kore (1846), 26a, 27a; Michael, Or, no. 806; Fuerst, Bibliotheca, 3 (1863), 435; Weiss, Dor, 5 (19044), 129–31; Waxman, Literature, 2 (1933), 154f.; Baer, Toledot, (1945), 274, 276, 301; Baer, Spain, 1 (1966), 38, 40, 83; C. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 1 (1946), 299–301.

[Yehoshua Horowitz]