Ashkenaz and France in the middle ages – Were they one cultural entity? R. Hayim Ha-Kohen as a test case

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Abstract

Rabbi Hayim Ha-Kohen was a Tosafist, active in France and Ashkenaz in the twelfth century. In the scholarly literature he is considered a French scholar, but, as will be demonstrated in this article, this assumption is erroneous. Though he was born in Germany, he travelled to France in order to study under Rabbeinu Tam, then returned to Germany to teach in Mainz. After a few years, he migrated back to France, where he was active until his death. This fact is significant for three reasons: (1) like Ashkenazi scholars, and in contrast to French scholars, Rabbi Hayim opposed immigration to the Land of Israel; (2) he taught and interpreted the order Qodashim – and specifically the tractate Zebahim – in line with Ashkenazi scholars; (3) his son wrote a commentary on Ashkenazi piyyutim that contains many French words. That the prayer rite was Ashkenazi but the language French reflects the family’s migration pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-318
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Volume69
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

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