Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rabbeinu Gershom

On Shabbos 85b, Rashi refers to Rabbeinu Gershom as "Avi haGolah", the father of the exile. I had always heard him referred to as "Me'or haGolah", the light of the exile. What is the origin of this latter term? The question seems to be especially interesting in that Rashi was writing not too long after R. Gershom's death - according to the Jewish Encylopedia, he passed away in Rashi's birthyear of 1040 - so it would seem like the former term has chronological precedence.


At 5/22/2006 11:14 AM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Encylopedia Judaica says:

>The reverence in which Rabbenu Gershom was held in subsequent generations was already expressed by Rashi: "Rabbenu Gershom, may the memory of the righteous and holy be for a blessing, who enlightened the eyes of the exile, and upon whom we all depend and of whom all Ashkenazi Jewry are the disciples of his disciple" (J. Mueller (ed.), Teshuvot Hakhmei Zarefat ve-Lutir (1881), no. 21). This is apparently also the source of the title "Me'or ha-Golah" ("Light of the Exile").

Also, Rashi on Beitzah 24b ד"ה ולערב אסורין says רבי' גרשום מאור הגולה.

So I suppose Rashi is in fact either the source itself or he used the epitaph already in use.

At 5/22/2006 12:04 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Thank you for the info.

At 5/23/2006 2:55 PM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

You're very welcome.


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