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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Asher ben Jehiel (Yehiel)
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Hebrew Name(s): אשר בן יחיאל
Other Names: ROSH, Rabbenu Asher, Asher ben Yechiel
Period: Rishonim — 13th–14th Century
Location: b. Germany, d. Toledo, Spain
Dates: c. 1259–1328

Biography:
A son of Yechiel, Asher ben Yechiel was a Talmudist, a student of R. Meir of Rothenburg and the father of Jacob ben Asher (Arba'ah Turim).  
 
A wealthy man, Asher ben Yechiel offered to pay a ransom for the release of R. Meir of Rothenburg  who was imprisoned in Germany during a period of persecution of Jews. R. Meir of Rothenburg refused the ransom fearing setting a precedent.  
 
Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel was named ROSH (Head) after assuming R. Meir's place at Worms. He later emigrated from Germany to Spain, via France, where he became a rabbi on the recommendation of R. Solomon ben Aderet (RaShBa).
 
Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel edited collections of Tosafot and wrote an Abstract of Talmudic Law (his best known work) which omits the haggadic portions of the Talmud and the laws not practiced outside Palestine and provides the final halakhah, leaving out much of the preceding discussion and is noted for its conciseness.

Works:
An Abstract of Talmudic Law; Orchot Chaim; Commentaries on Zeraim and Tohorot; Sefer ha-Remazim; Responsa

Comments:
Orchot Chaim is a work on ethics written for his sons.
 
Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel edited collections of Tosafot.
 
An Abstract of Talmudic Law is a halakhic work which omits the haggadic protions of the Talmud and the laws not practised outside Palestine. The work provides the final halakhah, leaving out much of the preceding discussion and is noted for its conciseness. Constructed according to the plan of Alfasi's work, and indeed as a commentary on it, Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel's work soon superseded that of Alfasi and was reproduced with almost every edition of the Talmud under the title Rabbienu Asher. Asher ben Yechiel's son, Jacob, complied an abridged list of decisions found in the work and published them as Piskei Ha-Rosh, Decisions of the Rosh (also called Ḳiẓẓur Pisḳe ha-Rosh). Piskei Ha-Rosh became a foundation for Jacob ben Asher's Tur.

 

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