Tosafists were medieval rabbis from France and Germany who are among those known in Talmudical scholarship as Rishonim (there were Rishonim in Spain also) who created critical and explanatory glosses (questions, notes, interpretations, rulings and sources) on the Talmud. These were collectively called Tosafot ("additions"), because they were additions on the commentary of Rashi. The Tosafists lived from the 12th century to the middle of the 15th century and the Tosafot are a compilation of the questions, answers and opinions of those rabbis. The Tosafot are very important to the practical application of Jewish law because the law will differ depending on how the Talmud is understood and interpreted.
Each generation of the Tosafists would add to those compilations and therefore there are many different versions of the Tosafos. In addition each compilation of the Tosafos did not contain everything that was said by the Tosafists on the subject so compilations will differ in what they say. For this reason some things that were said by the Tosafists will be found only in obscure versions of the Tosafos.
The final version of these commentaries was published on the outer side of the Soncino edition of the Talmud, printed in Soncino, Italy (16th century), and was the first printed edition of the full Talmud. The publisher of that edition was a nephew of Rabbi Moshe of Spires (Shapiro) who was of the last generation of Tosafists and who initiated a project of writing a final compilation of the Tosafos. Before he published his Talmud he traveled throughout France to the schools where the Tosafists learned and gathered all of the different manuscripts of that final version of the Tosafos and printed them in his Talmud. Since then every publication of the Talmud was printed with the Tosafos on the outer side of the page (the inner side has the commentary of Rashi) and is an integral part of the study of the Talmud.
During the period of the Tosafists the church enacted a law that prohibited possession of the Talmud under pain of death and 24 wagon loads of scrolls of the Talmud were gathered from all of France and burned in the center of Paris. The intention of the church was that the study of the Talmud should be forgotten and once forgotten it would remain forgotten for all generations since there would be nobody to teach it. As a result, the Tosafists devised a system where they could study the Talmud without the existence of a text despite the vastness of the Talmud. They appointed scholars, each to be expert in one the volumes of the Talmud, to know it by heart and very well, and so through these scholars they would have expertise and knowledge in all of the Talmud. As they would study a particular text in one volume of the Talmud those scholars who were expert in different volumes of the Talmud would tell of anything in the volume of the Talmud that they were expert on that would contradict their understanding of the text at hand. Thus an important aspect of the scholarship of the Tosafists is to use texts in different areas of the Talmud to disprove certain interpretations of the Talmud (often those of Rashi) and to determine the correct way to understand the Talmud.
Of the great number of tosafists only forty-four are known by name. The following is an alphabetical list of them; many, however, are known only through citations.
Quoted in the edited Tosafot to Tractate Kesubos 14b, 19a, 20b, 21a et seq.
Flourished in the middle of the thirteenth century; his tosafot are mentioned in the edited tosafot to Ket. 63b.
His tosafot, entitled Tosefot ha-Rosh or Tosefe Tosafot, appeared in various epochs and works. Many of them were inserted by Bezalel Ashkenazi in his Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet; those to Yebamot and Ketubot appeared separately at Livorno, 1776; to Sotah, partly at Prague, 1725, and partly in Jacob Faitusi's Mar'eh ha-Ofannim (1810); to Megillah_ and Shevuot, in Elijah Borgel's Migdanot Natan (1785); and to Kiddushin, in the Ma'aseh Roḳem (Pisa, 1806). They are included in the Vilna Romm edition of the Talmud.
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia ii. 559).
Author of tosafot to Baba Ḳamma, extracts from which are found in Bezalel Ashkenazi's Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet.
Flourished at the end of the twelfth century; his tosafot are mentioned by Abraham b. David in his "Temim De'im" and in the edited tosafot to B. M. 11b and Sheb. 28a. His tosafot to Nedarim are referred to by Joseph Colon (Responsa, No. 52); those to Megillah, in Isaiah di Trani's "Ha-Makria'" (No. 31, p. 19d); those to 'Abodah Zarah, in "Mordekai" (No. 1364).
Flourished in the beginning of the thirteenth century; author of tosafot to several treatises (comp. Michael, "Or ha-Ḥayyim," No. 427).
Wrote about the Persecution of 1096.
Author of tosafot to several treatises, of which those to Ḥullin were seen by Azulai.
French tosafist of the beginning of the thirteenth century, whose tosafot are mentioned by Zedekiah Anaw in his "Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ."
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia v. 120).
His tosafot are mentioned in "Haggahot Maimuniyyot," Ḳinnim, No. 20.
(RI, probably R. Isaac, but not to be confused with Isaac b. Samuel ha-Zaḳen, who occurs most often as RI) His tosafot, in which the older RI is quoted, are mentioned by Samson b. Zadok ("Tashbeẓ," § 336).
Brother of Samson ben Abraham of Sens. Succeeded his teacher Isaac ben Samuel ha-Zaḳen as head of the school of Dampierre, and as a result is also known as Rabbi Isaac ha-Baḥur, or RIBA ("Rabbi Isaac the Younger").
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia vi. 620).
Pupil of Rabbeinu Tam and one of the earlier tosafists ("ba'ale tosafot yeshanim"). He was the author of a commentary on Ketubot quoted by Isaac Or Zarua' (see Judah Minz, Responsa, No. 10). He is quoted very often in the edited tosafot (Yeb. 5b; B. Ḳ. 72a; et al.).
Grandson of Rashi, and brother of Samuel b. Meïr (RaSHBaM) and Jacob Tam; died before his father, leaving four children (Jacob Tam, "Sefer ha-Yashar," No. 616, p. 72b, Vienna, 1811). Although he died young, Isaac wrote tosafot, mentioned by Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi ("Abi ha-'Ezri," § 417), to several treatises of the Talmud. Isaac himself is often quoted in the edited tosafot (Shab. 138a; Ket. 29b et passim).
Flourished in the twelfth century; pupil of Isaac b. Asher ha-Levi. He corresponded with Jacob Tam and was a fellow pupil of Moses b. Joel and Ephraim b. Isaac. His tosafot are quoted by Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi (l.c. § 420) and Meïr of Rothenburg ("Semaḥot," § 73; "Haggahot Maimuniyyot," Abelot, p. 294a). He is often quoted also in the edited tosafot (Ket. 55a; B. Ḳ. 22b et passim).
His tosafot are mentioned in the "Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet," Ketubot, 43a. He may be identical with the Isaac b. Reuben who made a comment on Rashi to B. Ḳ. 32d.
also known as the Ri ha-Zaken, a French tosafist and Biblical commentator who flourished in the twelfth century.
Italian tosafist of the first half of the thirteenth century. The greater part of his tosafot were published under the title "Tosefot R. Yesha'yahu" (Lemberg, 1861–69); and many were inserted by Bezaleel Ashkenazi in his "Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet."
Lived in the middle of the thirteenth century; mentioned as an author of tosafot in "Mordekai" (to 'Ab. Zarah, Nos. 1244, 1279, 1295, 1356) and "Haggahot Mordekai" (to Shab. xiv.). Extracts from the tosafot of Israel's pupils were reproduced by Bezaleel Ashkenazi (l.c.).
Supposedly a contemporary of Meïr b. Baruch of Rothenburg, and perhaps identical with Judah ha-Kohen, Meïr's relative. In the extracts from his tosafot to Baba Ḳamma, inserted in the "Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet," he quotes, among many other authorities, his still living teacher, the Kohen whom Zunz ("Z. G." p. 42) supposes to be identical with Abigdor b. Elijah ha-Kohen. From the "Shiṭṭah Meḳubbeẓet" to Baba Meẓi'a it is seen that J. Cohen wrote tosafot to the same treatise.
Lived in the thirteenth century; pupil of Isaac ben Abraham, author of a "Shiṭṭah" ("Mordekai," on Sanh., No. 928). He himself is quoted in the edited tosafot (Ber. 12a; Nazir 53a; et al.).
Flourished at Speyer about 1130; a pupil of Kalonymus b. Isaac the Elder (Eliezer b. Nathan, "Eben ha-'Ezer," p. 13c, Prague, 1610). He was the author of tosafot ("Haggahot Maimuniyyot," Ḳinnim, No. 16) and of decisions ("pesaḳim"; "Mordekai," Ḥul., No. 1183). He is quoted also in the edited tosafot (to Ḳin. 23a).
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia vii. 36).
His tosafot are quoted as authoritative by Perez ben Elijah (glosses to "'Ammude Golah," p. 50a, Cremona, 1556), in "Kol Bo" (No. 114), and in "Mordekai" (Ḥul., No. 924). He is frequently quoted also in the edited tosafot.
Flourished, according to Zunz ("Z. G." p. 33), about 1150. Zunz identifies this Joseph with the pupil of Samuel b. Meïr whose glosses are quoted in the edited tosafot (to Ket. 70a), and thinks he may be identical with the Joseph of Orleans often cited in the edited tosafot (Shab. 12a et passim). If so, he must be identified, according to Henri Gross (Gallia Judaica, p. 34), with Joseph ben Isaac Bekor Shor. Weiss, however, suggests that this Joseph might have been either Joseph Bonfils, Jacob Tam's teacher, or Joseph b. Isaac of Troyes, one of Rashi's pupils. Thus it seems that in any case the tosafist mentioned in the "Sefer ha-Yashar" must be distinguished from the one mentioned in Tos. Ket. 70a, as the latter was a pupil of R. Samuel.
Many fragments of his tosafot to Shabbat are included in the edited tosafot.
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia vii. 344).
Son-in-law and pupil of Rashi, and to a great extent his continuator. It was Judah who completed Rashi's commentary on Makkot (from 19b to the end) and who wrote the commentary on Nazir which is erroneously attributed to Rashi. He wrote, besides, independent commentaries on 'Erubin, Shabbat, Yebamot (Eliezer b. Joel ha-Levi, "Abi ha-'Ezri," §§ 183, 385, 397, 408), and Pesaḥim ("Semag," prohibition No. 79). Finally, Halberstam manuscript No. 323 contains a fragment of Judah's commentary on Nedarim. It is generally considered that Judah b. Nathan wrote tosafot to several treatises of the Talmud, and he is mentioned as a tosafist in "Haggahot Mordekai" (Sanh., No. 696). He is often quoted in the edited tosafot.
His tosafot are quoted in the "Mordekai" (B. M. iv., end).
See above and Jew. Encyc. viii. 437.
His tosafot are mentioned by his son Jacob Tam ("Sefer ha-Yashar," No. 252) and often in the edited tosafot.
Author of Old Tosafot to Yoma and of some published in the collection "Sugyot ha-Shas" (Berlin, 1736).
Flourished in the thirteenth century; probably a pupil of Judah b. Isaac of Paris. His tosafot were used by the compiler of the "Haggahot Maimuniyyot" (see Jew. Encyc. ix. 86).
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia ix. 65).
13th Century Tosafist from Bohemia.
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia ix. 600).
(see above and Jewish. Encyclopedia xi. 2).
Flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; author of the "Sefer Keritut." In this work (i. 7, § 1; v. 3, §§ 120, 148) Samson refers to his glosses on 'Erubin and 'Abodah Zarah; he appears to have written glosses on other Talmudic treatises also.
Author of tosafot to several treatises; those to Soṭah are among the edited tosafot (see Jew. Encyc. xi. 16).
Author of tosafot to Alfasi; under his supervision his pupils prepared tosafot to several treatises ("Sefer ha-Yashar," p. 85d).
German Talmudist of the end of the twelfth century; authorof tosafot to 'Abodah Zarah (see "Kerem Ḥemed," vii. 50).
(see above and Jewish Encyclopedia xi. 28).
Flourished in the thirteenth century; his tosafot are mentioned by Meïr of Rothenburg (Responsa, iv., No. 154).
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Joseph Jacobs and M. Seligsohn (1901–1906). "Tosafot". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.