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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Isaac ben Joseph Karo
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Hebrew Name(s): יצחק קארו
Other Names: Isaac Karo, Yitzḥak Karo, Isaac ben Joseph Caro, Yitzḥak ben Yosef Karo
Period: Acharonim — 15-16th Century
Dates: d. c. 1518

Biography:
Isaac (Yitzḥak) Karo was a Spanish Talmudist and Bible commentator. He studied in Toledo, at the time one of the important rabbinical centers in Spain, before having to leave because of the expulsion of Jews in 1492. He travelled to Portugal where he remained for six years before once again fleeing to escape persecution. From Portugal he moved to Constantinople and probably remained for the rest of his life in Turkey. Isaac Karo died in 1518, the same year that he published his great work Toledot Yitzḥak.
 
Toledot Yitzḥak attempts to do justice to the peshat (literal/simple interpretation) as well as the allegorical interpretation of the biblical text. Isaac Karo also left a collection of Responsa which were unpublished, but which are quoted by his nephew, Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, several times. Isaac Karo wrote novellae to Ketubot, and also a work containing philosophic and haggadic homilies, Ḥasde David.
 
Isaac Karo was both the uncle of, and a teacher of Joseph ben Ephraim Karo.

Works:
Toledot Yitzḥak; Novellae to Ketubot; Responsa; Ḥasde David

Comments:
Toledot Yitzḥak al HaTorah is a commentary on the Bible which clarifies the peshat (literal) and the allegorical interpretations of the text.
 
Responsa of Isaac ben Joseph Karo where published as an addendum to the Responsa of Rabbi Joseph Karo, his nephew, in Responsa Beit Yosef.
 
Ḥasde David is a work of philosophic and haggadic homilies.

 

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