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given high praise. The epithet "light of the world" was probably
applied to him in contrast to his blindness, while that of Rabbenu
Gershom, ''light of the Diaspora/' is derived from Hiillin, 59 b.

- Ila-Goren, IV, 71. Harkavy's attempt to fasten this fragment,
published by him, upon Rabbi Hilai, the father of Rabbi Natronai, is
not successful. The strict interdict against fasting on ni"i\r niu? con-
tained in this fragment contradicts the view of Rabbi Natronai (comp.
G.S., p. 261, and the sources cited there in connexion with Responsum
10), and it is not conceivable that the latter would have ignored his
father's position completely. Rather is it probable that the author of



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE



97



Rabbi Jehudai's learning alone could not have secured
these extraordinary honours for him. The impartial his-
torian is forced to confess that in respect to scholarship
he was outstripped by more than one of his successors.
Not to mention Rabbi Saadia, whose genius was so many-
sided that he became the pioneer on a number of fields
of Jewish science, Rabbi Jehudai's achievements even upon
the limited field of the Talmud cannot be compared with
those of Sar Shalom and Natronai, to specify only a couple
of the older Geonim. The Responsa by Rabbi Jehudai,
if they go beyond a curt affirmative or negative, offer
at best a brief reference to a Talmud passage, without
further comment. Nothing of the depth of a Sar Shalom or
the great erudition of a Rabbi Natronai. Indeed, the pane-
gyrist quoted above recounts it as one of his distinctions
that Rabbi Jehudai never said anything for which he
could not find endorsement in the Talmud or in religious
practice.

Accordingly, Rabbi Jehudai's importance must be sought
in some concrete deed which made him a commanding
figure in the eyes of his contemporaries and his successors.
And for a deed of this calibre we need not search far or
long. The words of Rabbi Hai quoted above ^ in which
he speaks of the ''secret rolls," wherein the "authorities
of remotest times," "who lived before Rabbi Jehudai,''
were wont to record traditions " for their own use," suggest
the solution. Rabbi Jehudai is the earliest author, at least
the earliest Halakic author, of the Geonic time. He was

the fragment was a Pumbeditan, and his teacher, naxn, of whom
Harkavy says that no mention is made of him otherwise, was the
Gaon of Pumbedita, Rab Abba ben Rabbi Dudai, the nephew of Rabbi
Jehudai. It is work of supererogation to prove the identity of the
names nn , ni^?-i , and xa« 'i ; however, even the versions of Rabbi
Sherira's Letter, 39, have nn and «i>< n for the same name. It only
remains to add that the prohibition against fasting on nniri nn^ goes
back to Rabbi Jehudai ; comp. Miiller, Handschriftliche Jehudai Gaon
zugewiesene Lehrsatse, 11 and 18.
^ Comp. above, p. 74.

I H



98 THE GEONIM

the first to put Halakic matter down in writing for general
use, and it is from this point of view that he may and
should be regarded as a pioneer.

The objection will be raised that in the previous section
Rabba Aha, of Shabha, a contemporary of Rabbi Jehudai,
was presented as an author of a Halakic work. It is
altogether probable that this contemporary of Rabbi
Jehudai was stimulated to take up his pen when the latter,
with all the authority of a Gaon, abrogated the prohibition
against the writing down of the Halakah. The assump-
tion, in itself highly probable, that so important a change
emanated from a Gaon invested with dignity and power
rather than a private individual, finds corroboration in
the chronological data marshalled in the first part of this
Introduction. It was shown above, p. 48, that the Gaon
of Pumbedita, Rabbi Samuel, was still alive when Rabbi
Jehudai entered upon the Gaonate of Sura. Furthermore,
we know that Rabbi Aha wrote his Sheeltot after his
removal to Palestine, and this event did not take place
until after the death of Rabbi Samuel. But at bottom
the Sheeltot do not affect the present point. In Palestine
the prohibition against the writing down of Halakah had
ceased to be enforced with rigour back in the Talmudic
time^. So that even if the Sheeltot had not remained
unknown in Babylonia, being a Palestinian product, they
still would have had no influence upon the question of
Halakic authorship in Babylonia.



^ Comp. Temurah, 14 a ; the beginnings of the practice of writing down
the Halakah are probably to be sought in the xns^D {^rnxv, the written
communications sent from Palestine to Babylonia. The sharp condemna-
tion by Rabbi Johanan of the practice of writing down the Halakah,
Temurah, 1. c. , is not found in the Yerushalmi, while there is, in Yer.
Berakot, V, 9 a, an endorsement of Haggadic writings by Rabbi Johanan.
Oomp. Briill, Jahrbucher, II, 5.



the halakic literature 99

Conflicting Traditions about the Author of the
Halakot Gedolot.

Rabbi Jehudai's priority as an Halakic author is contested
by another, by Rabbi Simon N~i>^p^ The most important
Halakic compendium of the Geonic period, the Halahot
Gedolot, is ascribed by some old authors to Rabbi Jehudai,
but others name Rabbi Simon as the author. Rabbi
Abraham Ibn Daud maintains plainly that Rabbi Jehudai' s
Halalwt Kezuhot are an abstract of the Halahot Gedolot
of Rabbi Simon. Halevy emends (pp. 200-13) the text
of the RaBeD so that he finds the exact reverse to be
the case, that it was Rabbi Simon who based his work
upon Rabbi Jehudai's. It is Halevy 's theory that Rabbi
Jehudai wrote a Halakic compendium long before he
became Gaon, and it served as the source from which
his younger and less important contemporaries, Rabbi
Aha, the author of the Sheeltot, and Rabbi Simon, the
author of the Halakot Gedolot, drew their material. The
assumption is highly improbable — to repeat what was
said above — that the first step toward a fixation of the
Halakah in writing in Babylonia proceeded from a private
individual, but if it were an acceptable assumption, the
priority of Rabbi Simon would be established, for the
RaBeD puts the time of his activity a generation earlier
than Rabbi Jehudai, and no emendation can dispose of
that statement.

But there is no room for doubt as to the incorrectness
of the RaBeD's statement about Rabbi Simon. It clearly
rests upon a misunderstanding, and it is vain to try to
harmonise it with other reports of a reliable nature^.
Rabbi Hai, as appears from his words quoted above ^,

^ The most important literature dealing with :"n is recorded by-
Epstein in his a"rt icd b^ -iqno.

^ How RaBeD reached this view of his, comp. above, pp. 76-7, and
Epstein, 1. c, 51.

^ Comp. above, p. 74.

H 2



lOO THE GEONIM

assuredly considers Rabbi Jehudai the earliest author of
the Geonic period, and bearing this Responsum of Rabbi
Hai in mind, another passage of his, in p"a, 87, . . . ♦ \^V^^ '"^
\x'T).T an nm pn^DyDN Dp i6, admits of no meaning except
this : Rabbi Simon Nn^^p, the compiler of the Halakot
Gedolot, misunderstood the opinion of Rabbi Jehudai.

Rabbi Hai's last quoted statement propounds another
problem, the solution of which is extremely difficult. In
this Responsum and elsewhere. Rabbi Hai clearly says that
the author of a"n was Rabbi Simon N"1^'*P, and not Rabbi
Jehudai, wherein he argues with the scholars of Spain and
the Provence, and is in opposition to those of France and
Germany. The latter ^ name Rabbi Jehudai as the author
of 3^1. In his enlightening essay upon the subject,
Epstein does not hesitate to characterise the tradition
of Franco-German authorities regarding the author of fn
as an outright error. However, he makes no attempt to
elicit the cause of the error. It could not have been caused
by confounding 3''n with the mpioa niai^n ascribed to Rabbi

^ The older Italian scholars, as, for instance, Rabbi Isaiah di Trani
the Elder, agree with the Franco-German scholars, while the younger
ones seem to have wavered. Rabbi Zedekiah ben Abraham, the author
of the h'n''2'Q:, in most passages calls Rabbi Jehudai the author of the a^'n,
yet there are places in which Rabbi Simon xi^^p appears as such. Though
Rabbi Abraham ben Nathan, the author of the Manhig, studied in Northern
France, he wrote his work in Spain, hence he usually speaks of Rabbi
Simon as the author of the j"n, but, again, in some passages, he was
dominated by the French tradition. Among the Spanish- Proven9al
authors, too, there is a tendency to variation. In y^^r, 14 a. Rabbi David
"i:n p (Alfasi quotes him in -nfy, 301) speaks of Rabbi Jehudai as the
author of fry, and Rabbi Isaac, the author of the 'Itiur, though he almost
always considers Rabbi Simon as the author, says in one passage (II,
48 d) . . . . ma'jn hvi «n« m d'^DI, which should most probably be read
'D':rr 'vi mv n, since the passage quoted occurs in both versions of the
:'n, at the beginning of nD3, but it does not occur in the Sheeltot. The
same slip of the pen, making xnx of mv, was shown above, p. 95, to
have occurred in j^od . There is the possibility, however, that the 'Itiur
had this passage in Sheelta LXXIII and LXXIX. The description of
Rabbi Aha as the 'hn 'vi was demonstrated above, p. 95, to occur in
Maimonides.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE lOI

Jehudai. They knew the latter work as well as the former,
and the widely varying character of the two books would
suggest separate authors rather than the same. Halevy,
applying the Talmudic maxim, D'^^n DNlijN nai )bi<) I^K, to
historical data, can see no contradiction between the two
opinions. He holds that the Franco-German authors had
made Rabbi Jehudai the author of J''n, because they knew
that for this work of his Rabbi Simon ^<n''''p had made
constant use of the mplDS ni3^n of Rabbi Jehudai. They
therefore did not hesitate to describe Rabbi Jehudai as
the author in the real sense. Apart from the improbability
of this conjecture, which imputes to scholars of the eleventh
and twelfth centuries the practice of changing the name
of the author attached to a given book, on the ground of
literary criticism, this alleged historical criticism was far
from doing honour to the penetration of the critics. The
Halakot Fesukot, it is true, are freely made use of in
the present form of the Halakot Gedolot, but these two
Halakot collections are so radically different in their under-
lying plans^ that there would be as much justification for
ascribing the same author to them as for ascribing the
Halakot Gedolot to Rabbi Aha, of Shabha, whose Sheeltot,
too, have been drawn upon considerably therefor.

Now, if it were simply a matter of choosing between
Rabbi Hai's statement and the statement of European
scholars, we should not have to hesitate long. The Baby-
lonian Rabbi Hai, the Gaon of Pumbedita, was assuredly
better informed about the author of important Halakot
collections made in the Geonic time than the authorities
of Germany and France living at a distance from the time
and the scene of the activity of the Babylonian Halakists.
However, we are in possession of a Geonic tradition very
much older than Rabbi Hai's, and it tells us, in unmis-
takable words, that Rabbi Jehudai is the author of the
Halakot Gedolot. In a Responsum in G, S., pp. 85-6,
a decision occurring in the Halakot Gedolot is repudiated
on the ground that it lacks authenticity, and the view is



I02 THE GEONIM

expressed that it did not emanate from the author of
the :"rt, but rather from Rabbi Jacob, the Gaon of Sura.
If it is taken into consideration that even the last of
the Geonim, Rabbi Hai and Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni,
express their opinion on Rabbi Simon N^i^V plainly, indi-
cating that they do not regard him as an authority^,
the Responsum referred to would become altogether un-
intelligible on the assumption that its writer looked upon
Rabbi Simon as the author of i^'n. Instead of undermining
the authority of the decision disputed by him, he would
confirm it by attributing it to so eminent a person
as Rabbi Jacob, Gaon of Sura. The Responsum conveys
sense only if we assume that its writer considered Rabbi
Jehudai Gaon as the author of the 3''n. Now a decision
emanating from him had unassailable authority in the
eyes of the Geonim, and therefore the writer of the Re-
sponsum adds that the moot passage had originated, not
with Rabbi Jehudai, but with a disciple - of his, Rabbi
Jacob, and the view of this Gaon he did not accept as
of unquestioned authority.

The writer of the Responsum under examination is not

^ Comp., for example, Rabbi Hai's rather incisive observation on Rabbi
Simon in p"j, 87, and Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni's patronising words in
Harkavy, 146. It may be noted, by the way, that Epstein, 1. c, overlooked
this quotation from the :i''n by Rabbi Samuel.

2 Rabbi Jacob referred to oral instructions given by Rabbi Jehudai
in his presence (i"w, I, 114b: dtic, 28 a; and below, p. 31), as is
indicated particularly by the words ^h<i"in' '•) ^-rn i:iob pi. The end of
the Responsum by Rabbi Jacob in fMi reads : ni "-do 't mni^ Nnrr: sim
'.^Tin" (in mc the text is corrupt), whence the inference seems to be
that the teacher of Rabbi Jacob was not Rabbi Jehudai himself, but one
of the pupils of the latter, perhaps Rabbi Hanina. As the death of
Rabbi Jacob occurred forty years after Rabin Jehudai's, it is possible
for him to have heard Ral)bi Jehudai dispense insti-uction, without
having been a pupil of his in the true sense of the word. Comp. also
3"rr, 125, which gives the impression that Rabbi Jacob was a disciple
of Rabbi Hanina. In the MS. of the n"^nsT, mentioned above, p. 47, the
parallel passage reads : "iibipi ^2^1rb pi . . . mio ;"'>«3 ['xr;n = ] -xTcn no ns"*
p«: 'siin' n 'CO . Accordingly, it is Rabbi Haninai, and not Rabbi Jacob,
who referred to j^ersonal instructions received from Rabbi Jehudai,



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE IO3

mentioned, but it seems highly probable that it was issued
by Rabbi Natronai ben Hilai, who elsewhere, too, accuses
Rabbi Jacob of seeking to give a view of his own undue
weight through the protection of Rabbi Jehudai's name ^
Also, the expression N*:''Tn pDn is frequently used by Rabbi
Natronai. At all events, the rather cavalier way in which
a view of Rabbi Jacob's is rejected, indicates that the author
of the Responsum must be a Gaon not too far removed
from Rabbi Jacob in time ^.

Jehudai Gaon Author of the Original
Halakot Gedolot.
Another circumstance adds to the difficulty of determining
who the author of the Halakot Gedolot is. We have two
widely varying versions of the book, and it is a serious
task to establish which of the two, if either, is the original
form. This is not the place to discuss in detail the rela-
tion existing between these two versions ; one point,
however, requires immediate consideration. One version,
which will be designated as fn I, mentions no authorities
younger than Rabbi Jehudai Gaon ^, while fr\ II refers to

^ Comp. G. S., p. 31.

^ Comp. R. Natronai's Responsum in G. S., p. 319, where mD rr b is
perhaps = 3"n.

^ In the author's list for a^n, by Epstein, I.e., Rabbi Hanina appears
the pupil of Rabbi Jehudai, from 3"rT I, but it is very doubtful whether
the N:'3n 'i mentioned there is the same as the pupil of Rabbi Jehudai,
as there was an earlier Gaon of this name. Halevy's objection to the
identification, that the yotmger Rabbi Hanina is not designated as Kohen,
is of course untenable. In :"n, 125, likewise, ^x:>:n 'i is not described
as Kohen, although it is certain that Rabbi Jehudai's pupil is there
referred to, as his reply to a question put by Rabbi Jacob is given. It
should be added that the passage in frt, 79 a, is a later interpolation,
as appears from f^^, I, 204. It was transferred thither from j"n II, 325,
where it was in so early a copy as that used by Samuel ben Hofni
(Harkavy, 146). The form of the other passage, frt, 138 d, betrays it
to be a gloss, as in two other passages in y"n I, in which explanations
are described as ^m'2, this word properly stands at the beginning of
the clause to be explained, while here it is put at the end. It probably
is the observation of a reader who had heard the discussion of niiHD m:nn
by Rabbi Hanina, which is not meant to imply that the view presented



3 04 THE GEONIM

Geonim ^ up to 890. The final redaction of the latter version
should thus be assigned to about the year 900. As the
Franco- German scholars differ from the Hispano-Proven9al
in their views of the authorship of 3^1, so also they differ
in their use of the versions ^. The former are acquainted
with the first version only, the latter with the second version
only, and here we must seek the solution of the question
occupying us.

The real author of fn is Rabbi Jehudai. His work
reached the Franco-German scholars at an early period,

originated with him. An interesting parallel is offered by Yalkut, I, 736,
where it is said, at the end of a Midrash extract : y2^nn omx -\r:h^
]^w^ HTUJ^ irxi x^na *«3>2n X22T1 \jAyrd] «:s?in — "And this [section] was
expounded by the head of the Academy and Gaon Kabbi Hanina in
the Academy." It would seem that Rabbi Hanina was disposed to give
his students compilations of Haggadic material and Halakic as well.
It must be admitted, however, that lobi may refer to Eabbi Samuel,
and not to Rabbi Haninai. Who D"e:d '1 is, mentioned in both versions
of the /n, cannot be made out. The father of the Pumbeditan Gaon
Rabbi Zemah is called 'DC in a MS. of the Letter, instead of 'n:d3, but
this must be merely a slip of the pen, as Rabbi Nathan also has '«:c3.

^ Probably the reading should be '"m'p instead of ^ovp in i"r^ II, 548.
The person meant is the Gaon of Sura (about 832), not the Gaon of
Pumbedita (ab. 906), the father of Mebasser, as no Pumbeditan Geonim
are mentioned in a"n with the exception of Rabbi Paltoi and his son
Zemah. Responsa by a Rabbi Kimoi are to be found in the anonymous
Halakic compendium published in J.Q.R., IX, 669-81, and he is pro-
bably the same as our Rabbi m^V- It is proper, however, to call attention
to the fact that Rabbi Nathan calls the father of Rabbi Saadia's predecessor
as Gaon of Sura -"DVp, and not ^\oy. About 2"-in p i^.V 'i in /'n II, 230,
we know absolutely nothing. Is it possible that he may be Rabbi Jacob
of Nehar Pakod, who was Gaon of Sura about 715 ? His decision against
the use of phylacteries on D"mn is in agreement with Rabbi Shashna
(n'uJ, 266), who officiated as Gaon of Sura about one generation earlier.
At all events, the name 2'nn, in its Aramaic foi-m wran, occurs at this
time ; comp. above, p. 17, n. i. I am very suspicious about the genuine-
ness of the end of the Responsum in r\"\D, 1. c. It is missing in n^ur, 155,
and in -i"u;n , I, 47, it forms part of a Responsum by Rabbi Moses. We can
hardly be said to know Rabbi Shashna's view on )2n"iTO ^^rcn.

^ This rule, of course, has its exceptions. Rabbi Isaac of Vienna also
used the n^Dcc'x Sxd :"nn. On the other hand, Albargeloni seems to have
known fn I, as was observed by Halberstam in his introduction to the
m^i> 'c u.-'i-iD, 12. Comp. above, p. 100, n. i.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE IO5

and they assigned it to Rabbi Jehudai as its author, on
the strength of a well-founded tradition. This work was
recast about 900, by Rabbi Simon, who made many additions
thereto, by reason of which additions the work acquired
such popularity that it superseded the original of the great
Rabbi Jehudai. Now, when Rabbi Sherira and Rabbi
Hai desire to speak of Rabbi Jehudai's work, they designate
it specifically as ^N^in^ '"i mri^n in contrast to the fn par
excellence, which circulated a century after Rabbi Simon
in the form given to it by him. This "improved" version
fell into the hands of the Hispano-Proven9al scholars, who
properly referred to the fn as the work of Rabbi Simon,
inasmuch as they did not know its older form. Again, the
anonymous writer of the Responsum in G. S., pp. 85, 86,
who lived before 900, knew none but the first version,
and there was no need for him to name the author, Rabbi
Jehudai, explicitly. In his time no Halakot Gedolot
existed except those of Rabbi Jehudai. The words of
Rabbi Hai ^ ^NTin^ -iDl r\)b)l} Dirii^nn, are therefore not to be
emended to read ^NlliT "iD D^^i^nm nii?n: Dli^nn, as suggested
by Epstein, but IDI is to be changed to "iJ^n. Rabbi Hai
refers to the various readings in the ^'n of Rabbi Jehudai,
without concerning himself about those of Rabbi Simon,
to which he attributed no particular importance.

It must be admitted that Rabbi Hai cites ^ a view from
the Halakot of Rabbi Jehudai which is in contradiction
to :"n I. But this can hardly be brought up as an
objection to the above explanation, if we consider that
as early as the time of the Geonim the text of :''n had
been badly tampered with 2. We are probably dealing
with a correction of fn I in accordance with 2''n II, a
process not by any manner of means unique^. Though

^ Quoted in d^si D^nn, 23 a, 119. 2 ^,"^,^ jj^ 55^

' Comp. Epstein, 1. c.

> Of the many proofs that might be brought forward, a couple follow :
^"720, Prohibition 138, cited from a"rT II, which we have in fr) 1, 134 d,
while Commandment 63 he cites from :"n I, with us contained in a"n



Io6 THE GEONIM

Rabbi Simon fell far short of enjoying the respect paid
his predecessor, Rabbi Jehudai, his work was used to
a much larger extent than the shorter compendium of
Rabbi Jehudai, who even had to submit to improvements
after Rabbi Simon.

A much more serious objection might be advanced,
based upon the presence of Sheeltot quotations in the fn.
It is to the last degree improbable that Rabbi Jehudai
would regard the work of his contemporary Rabbi Aha,
whose activity, besides, displayed itself in Palestine, as
of sufficient importance to be excerpted by him. But
on closer examination this objection to the explanation
given develops into a supporting argument. It was
mentioned above that down to Rabbi Hai the Sheeltot
were not mentioned by any Gaon, which makes the
frequent quotations from them in the a"n all the more
remarkable. Another point to be noted is that Rabbi
Aha, the author of the Sheeltot, is mentioned by name
four times in fii, but his opinions are each time intro-
duced with the word nr:j<, whether they are statements
of his appearing in the Sheeltot, or such as are not taken
thence. An interpretation of these facts would properly
permit us to infer that the author of the ^'n was per-
sonally acquainted with Rabbi Aha, and was told one thing
and another by him in conversation, but his work, the
Sheeltot, written in Palestine, was not known to Rabbi
Jehudai, who may have written his own Halakic collection
earlier than Rabbi Aha wrote his. Hence the Sheeltot
quotations, which on their face are passages from the
book reproduced literally, cannot have been put in by
Rabbi Jehudai himself. The same explanation applies
to them as to the fairly numerous decisions of Rabbi

II, 528. The n"T hz' /n quoted by French authors was :"rT II, as appears
from Tosa/ot, Hullin, 46 b, catchword ^a^ix, yet it was not identical with
our text of the second version. For example, the :"qd quotes passages
from the a"n of ^\"^, to be found neither in ;"rr I nor II. Comp. also
Freimann, We-Hizhlr, II, 82-3.



THE HALAKIC LITERATURE tOy

Jehudai himself that are to be found in the 3''n — doubtless
a pupil of Rabbi Jehudai inserted, in appropriate places
in his work, opinions of the master known from other
sources ^ In the same way he enriched it with intro-
ductions taken from the Sheeltot. It is not impossible
that this same disciple may have sat at the feet of Rabbi
Aha, too, while the latter still lived at Babylonia.

Accordingly, the development of the ^'n must have
proceeded as follows: About the middle of the eighth
century Rabbi Jehudai composed a Halakic compendium,
which he named r\)b)^y nni5n 2. This work of his was
provided with additions by a pupil. The additions were
mainly of two sorts, introductions", taken from the
Sheeltot, to comprehensive sections of the work ; and
extracts from Responsa by Rabbi Jehudai, together with
other of his oral and written decisions. The result was
the work which came to the hands of the Franco-German
scholars. This same work of Rabbi Jehudai's, with the
additions and introductions inserted by his pupil, formed
the foundation upon which Rabbi Simon ^<'^''^'5, in about
900, built up a remodelled work, known to the last of
the^ Geonim and to the Hispano-Pro venial Jews as the
^^ Halahot Gedolot of Rabbi Simon N"i^^p." Originally, it
is fair to assume, the latter book circulated under its


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