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Rabbi Isaac Alfasi

(1013 - 1103)

Rabbi Isaac Alfasi known as the Rif. Although he was not a native, Alfasi settled in Fez after studying in Kairouan. He lived there until his 75th year, when enemies denounced him to the government and he was forced to flee to Spain. Alfasi is best known for his brilliant legal code, Sefer ha-Halachot. In it, he extracts all the pertinent legal decisions from three orders; Moed, Nashim, and Nezikin in addition to the entire tractates of Brachot and Hulin. Maimonides wrote that Alfasi's work "has superseded all the geonic codes…for it contains all the decisions and laws which we need in our day…" At the close of the Middle Ages, when the Talmud was banned in Italy, Alfasi's code was exempted so that from the 16th to the 19th centuries his work was the primary subject of study of the Italian Jewish community.

Sources: This material was originally published in Sparks! - an e-zine for Jewish families