Asher ben Yehiel
Asher ben Yechiel (also called the
Rosh) was born c. 1250 in Western Germany and died c. 1328 in Toledo, Spain. His father was his first teacher, a follower
of Judah b. Samuel
HeChasid. His major teacher, however, was Meir ben Baruch of
Rothenberg with whom he studied in Worms.
When Meir ben Baruch was
imprisoned, Asher became the leading rabbi in Germany. He worked
diligently to get Meir released. He survived the Rindfleisch
massacres of 1298 and decided to leave Germany in 1303. He was
welcomed by Solomon b.
Abraham Adret and was immediately pulled into the Maimonidean
Controversy. Like Adret, he feared that philosophy would turn
students away from Torah study. However, he too feared a schism and
supported Adret's compromise. In 1305 he became the rabbi of Toledo.
He was rigidly honest and defended
the authority of his position. When a rabbi refused to accept his
position, he threatened the man with execution. He wrote a code of
ethical sayings covering all aspects of daily life.
Asher ben Yechiel introduced the
French/German discipline of Talmud study to Spain. He synthesized Meir
ben Baruch's positions with Spanish tradition and custom. He was the
acknowledged Halachic authority, and students flocked to his yeshiva. He wrote more than
1,000 responsa. He wrote commentaries on many tractates of the
Talmud. His son, Jacob ben Asher, included many of his legal
positions in his famous code, the Tur.
Asher ben Yechiel thus provided a
personal bridge between French/German talmudic scholarship and
Sources: Gates to Jewish Heritage, JewishEncyclopedia.com