Commentary

Type: Commentary

  • Beit Yosef:
  • Title

    The phrase, meaning "the house of Joseph," occurs in Genesis 50:8; Amos 5:6; Obadiah 1:18; Zechariah 10:5, etc. As was customary in titles of rabbinic works, it was selected on account of its allusion to the author's name.

    Author

    Rabbi Joseph Caro (author of the Kesef Mishneh and Shulhan 'Arukh).

    Dates

    1488 to 1575.

    Place

    Rabbi Joseph Caro was born in Spain, but following the expulsion wandered through Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, settling finally in Safed in the Land of Israel.

    Description

    Caro envisaged the Beit Yosef as a necessary first step in his projected codification of Jewish law. He chose to compose it as a commentary on Rabbi Jacob ben Asher's Tur, rather than as a separate work, or on Maimonides' code, because the Tur had already done some of the preliminary labour of collecting and comparing the opinions of the leading medieval authorities.

    The Beit Yosef carefully analyzes the rulings in the Tur, tracing them back to their sources in the Talmud and other ancient rabbinic compendia; noting the rationales for the Tur's decisions on disputed questions; explaining the dissenting positions; filling in and elucidating opinions that had been omitted from the Tur; resolving difficulties raised by the Tur in the writings of his predecessors.

    After clarifying each question, Caro determined one opinion as normative based on the consensus or majority of three chief authorities:

    1. Rabbi Isaac Alfasi
    2. Maimonides
    3. Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel (the Rosh; Asheri), the father of the Tur's author

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