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New responsa of Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton

Pinchas Roth

<plain_text><page sequence="1">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton PINCHAS ROTH Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton was one of the more prolific rabbis in medieval England. Although historical information about him is scant, his association with known rabbinic figures places him in the middle of the thirteenth century. Several of his Halakhic responsa, or reports about his legal rulings, can be found in published rabbinic literature. This article is devoted to publishing four of his responsa from manuscripts. Each responsum is transcribed and annotated, with a brief introduction regarding its legal and historical significance. These new responsa shed important light on Isaac's stature within his community, the breadth of his rabbinic expertise, and his position in the first ranks of Halakhic decisors in England and France in the thirteenth century. In the annals of medieval English rabbis, Isaac of Northampton does not immediately stand out. Even after Sejn Etz Hayyim, the only surviving Halakhic work from pre-Expulsion England, was published and its numerous citations in the name of Rabbi Isaac of Northampton came to light, he was assumed to be otherwise unknown.1 Yet a fair number of responsa signed by Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton, or substantive legal opinions attributed to him, can be found in medieval Halakhic sources, in printed works, and in manuscripts. In this article, I present an edition of those responsa by Rabbi Isaac that have not been previously published. The second edition of Ephraim Elimelech Urbach's classic work The Tosaphists discussed several responsa by Isaac ben Peretz, as well as i Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 126 n. 5: "Among the scholars reverently cited in the work is Isaac ben Perez of Northampton - untraceable unfortunately elsewhere or in the secular records." See also Cecil Roth, "Why Anglo-Jewish History?", Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 22 (1970): 27. A brief summary of the citations in Etz Hayyim can be found in Michael Jolies, A Short History of the Jews qfNorthampton, 1159-1996 (London: Jolies Publications, 1996), 12-13. I would like to thank Simcha Emanuel, Rami Reiner, Robin Mundill, and the anonymous readers for their assistance, and the Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought at Ben Gurion University of the Negev for its support. Jewish Historical Studies, volume 46, 2014 1</page><page sequence="2">2 PINCHAS ROTH reports of his rulings and Talmudic explanations.2 Besides citations in rabbinic sources from medieval England that had recently been published, especially Tosqfot Hakhme Ang'ia and Sefer Etz Hayyim, Urbach was able to draw on four rulings by Rabbi Isaac found in versions of Sefer Mordechai, a fourteenth-century Ashkenazic compilation that is printed in standard editions of the Babylonian Talmud.3 Six of those rulings were published in German translation by Hans-Georg von Mutius.4 Recently, Simcha Emanuel published a short account of a meal shared by Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton and Yehiel of Paris: Once, Rabbi Yehiel of Paris and Rabbi I[saac] ben Peretz were seated to a meal on the Sabbath. A Gentile came and cooked one fish for himself. They forbade other Jews from eating it, as it says in the Tosefta "lest he tell a Gentile on another Sabbath 'cook for me"'.5 They also forbade it that night even after the time it would have taken [to cook the fish after the Sabbath] and ordered the Jew's dish to be cleaned, for it had become forbidden by Gentile cooking. They agreed with each other on this matter. Later, the same ruling was found in the writings of Rabbi Judah of Paris. [Copied] from the handwriting of Rabbi Jacob of Northampton.6 This story, which links Isaac of Northampton to Yehiel of Paris, a better- known historical figure, provides a clearer sense of the period in which Isaac ben Peretz lived. The two also appear together in one of the responsa published here, among a string of rabbinical figures from throughout the French realm. Yehiel ben Joseph of Paris is best known for his participation in the Talmud disputation, which took place in Paris in 2 E. E. Urbach, The Tosaphists: Their History, Writings, and Methods (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1980), 511-13. 3 Samuel Kohn, Mardochai ben Hillel: Sein Leben und seine Schriften (Breslau: Wilhelm Koebner, 1878), 124. One of the responsa printed in Sefer Mordechai was republished from the Vercelli manuscript (on which more below): Shlomo Gottesman, "Teshuvot hadashot me-rabotenu ha-rishonim", Yeshurun 11 (2002): 71-2. Kohn claimed that the Isaac ben Peretz quoted in Se/er Mordechai was not English but was the son of Rabbi Peretz of Corbeil, who lived at the end of the thirteenth century. In the face of explicit mentions of Northampton as Rabbi Isaac's home, and the total absence of any other information about a son of Rabbi Peretz of Corbeil named Isaac, it seems safe to dismiss Kohn's identification. 4 Hans-Georg von Mutius, Rechtsentscheide mittelalterlicher Englischer Rabbinen (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995), 117-25. 5 tShab. 13, 12, ed. Saul Lieberman (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1955-88) vol. 2, 61 6 Simcha Emanuel, Fragments of the Tablets: Lost Books of the Tosaphists (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2006), 190 n. 21, from Jerusalem, Schocken Institute, Ms. 19523, fol. 251V.</page><page sequence="3">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 3 1240.7 As Simcha Emanuel recently demonstrated, Rabbi Yehiel died in either 1260 or 1264, shortly after his abortive trip to the Holy Land in 1257.8 Urbach suggested that Isaac of Northampton was a disciple of Isaac ben Abraham of Sens and of Moses of London, and that he outlived Rabbi Moses.9 According to a medieval chronicle, Isaac ben Abraham died in 1210.10 Moses of London was active from around 1240 and died in 1268.11 It seems quite difficult to sustain both of Urbach's claims, and indeed the text in which Urbach identifies Isaac ben Abraham refers only to a Rabbi Isaac, thus obviating the need to stretch Isaac ben Peretz's birth back to the end of the twelfth century. Urbach's claim regarding Moses of London as Isaac ben Peretz's teacher is also arguable but it presents fewer chronological problems. In sum, it seems reasonable to assume that Isaac ben Peretz was active during the middle of the thirteenth century. A number of Jews are referred to in the Latin documents from medieval England by the name Isaac ofNorthampton, but none of them stand out as candidates for identification with Isaac ben Peretz the Talmudist. Several Northampton Jews named Isaac are listed in the Northampton Donum of 1194.12 One of them, Isaac ben Moses, signed his name in Hebrew on a contract for the lease of a farm in York in the year 1205. 13 Another Hebrew signature, also from York but dated approximately 1230, gives only the name Isaac ofNorthampton.14 The Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews preserve the names of more Isaacs ofNorthampton. Isaac son of Aaron and Isaac son of Jacob, both ofNorthampton, both had financial dealings 7 The Trial of the Talmud: Paris, 1240, trans. John Friedman (from Hebrew), Jean Connell Hoff (from Latin), intro. Robert Chazan (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2012). 8 Simcha Emanuel, 'R Yehiel of Paris: His Biography and Affinity to Eretz Israel' (Hebrew), Shalem 8 (2008): 94. 9 Urbach, Tosaphists, 512; E. E. Urbach, Studies in Judaica, ed. Moshe D. Herr and Jonah Fraenkel (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1998), 96 n. 2. 10 Israel Ta-Shma, Studies in Medieval Rabbinic Literature, vol. 1 (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 2004), 126-32. ii Cecil Roth, "Elijah of London: The Most Illustrious English Jew of the Middle Ages", Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions o/thejewish Historical Society of England 15 (1946): 31. 12 I. Abrahams, "The Northampton Donum of 1194", Miscellanies: The Jewish Historical Society of England 1 (1925): lxxiv: "Isaac filio Simonis, Isaac filio Mosse, Isaac filio Sancto". 13 Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England (London: D. Nutt, 1893), 227-9; H. G. Richardson, The English Jewry under Angevin Kings (London: Methuen, i960) 264-7 (with a reproduction of the Hebrew signature). 14 Barrie Dobson, The Jewish Communities of Medieval England (York: Borthwick Institute, 2010), 32,55; Charters of the Vicars Choral o/York Minster, ed. Nigel J. Trinham (York: Yorkshire Archeological Society, 1993), 14.</page><page sequence="4">4 PINCHAS ROTH with Roger de Cauz in 1220.15 Isaac son of Isaac appears from 1266 until 1273, when he requested permission to move from Northampton to Nottingham.16 Isaac of "Loudon" of Northampton was sued for trespass by Robert son of Thomas de Tychmers from 1273 to 1275. 17 The name also appears in a list of Jewish lenders extracted from writs in the Winchester archa in 1275. 18 One Isaac of Northampton was the son-in-law of Pictavin son of Benedict le Jofuene, and brother-in-law of Pictavin le Fort.19 Perhaps Pictavin le Fortis Pictavin of Bedford, who appears together with Isaac of London in Northampton in 1277 but was dead by 1278.20 Isaac de London of Northampton appears again in Bedford in 1278, strengthening the likelihood that he is the same brother-in-law.21 The name of this Isaac's father does not seem to be mentioned in any of these documents, leaving no basis for tying him to the rabbi who shared his name and town. Nonetheless, one person appearing in the Latin records may be connected to our figure. The name Peretz occurs only rarely in medieval English documents. Thus, when Peretz ben Isaac (Peres filius Ysace) appears in an entry from York in 1280, it seems quite possible that he was a son of Rabbi Isaac ben Peretz.22 15 Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (hereafter CPR), vol. i, Henry III, A.D. 1218-1272, ed. J. M. Ri gg (London: Macmillan, 1905), 27, 54. 16 Ibid., 136, 222, 225-6; CPR, vol. 2, Edward I, 1273-1275, ed. J. M. Rigg (Edinburgh: Macmillan, 1910), 48. 17 CPR, vol. 2, 5, 256, 294. 18 CPR, vol. 4, Henry III, 1272; Edward I, 1275-1277, ed. H. G. Richardson (London: Macmillan, 1972), 25. 19 Zefira Entin Rokéah, Medieval English Jews and Royal Officials: Entries of Jewish Interest in the English Memoranda Rolls, 1266-1293 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2000), 94. For Pictavin le Jouvene's father, see M. D. Davis, Hebrew Deeds of English Jews Before 1290 (London: Jewish Chronicle, 1888), 309, 354-5. Pictavin le Fort owned property in Canterbury before 1270; see Ann Causton, Medieval Jewish Documents in Westminster Abbey (London: Jewish Historical Society of England, 2007), 40, no. 31. 20 CPR, vol. 5, Edward 1, 1277-1279, ed. Sarah Cohen (London: Jewish Historical Society of England, 1992), 24, 164. 21 Ibid., 130. 22 CPR, vol. 6, Edward 1, 1279-1281, ed. Paul Brand (London: Jewish Historical Society of England, 2005), 177.</page><page sequence="5">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 5 Published responsa by Isaac ben Peretz As mentioned earlier, a number of Isaac's rulings appeared in print long ago, and some of them have aroused significant interest among scholars of Jewish law. One relates to the principle of "The law of the land is the law", which allows Halakhic authority to non-Jewish legal systems.23 In a responsum preserved in Sęfer Mordechai, Isaac ruled that a pawn may be sold when a year has elapsed from the starting date of the loan if the borrower has made no attempt to repay his debt.24 This ruling, explicitly based on Gentile law, stands in contrast to Jewish law which never grants ownership over the pawn to the lender. As noted by Haym Soloveitchik, this ruling could have solved many problems that medieval European rabbis were grappling with, but Isaac of Northampton's position was not endorsed by his rabbinic counterparts.25 Among Isaac's published rulings is a responsum that was highly influential, though its meaning was probably misconstrued by later generations. The ruling concerns a Jewish moneylender who transferred a debt he was holding to another Jew and swore that he would not subsequently forgive the debt or sell it again. Despite his oath, the moneylender did in fact sell (or forgive) the debt, thus denying the first customer his rightful profit. Isaac's ruling was that the second sale (or quitclaim) was void.26 While some rabbinical authorities used this ruling as a basis for the morally driven claim that an act in violation of a minor prohibition loses its legal efficacy, Eliav Shochetman has demonstrated that Isaac of Northampton's reasoning was strictly legal. Since the 23 Shmuel Shilo, Dina de-Malkhuta Dina: The Law of the State is Law (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Jerusalem Academic Press, 1974), 135-6. On this principle, see also Gerald Blidstein, "A Note on the Function of 'The Law of the Kingdom is Law' in the Medieval Jewish Community", Jewish Journal of Sociology 15 (1973): 213-19. 24 Mordechai, Baba Kamma 153; Mordechai ha-Shalem, Baba Kamma, ed. Avraham Halperin (Jerusalem: Machon Yerushalayim, 1992), 188-9; German trans, in von Mutius, Rechtsentscheide, 122-3. 25 Haym Soloveitchik, Pawnbroking: A Study in the Inter-Relationship between Halakhah, Eco- nomic Activity, and Communal Self-Image (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1985), 36 n. 26; Haym Soloveitchik, "A Response to Rabbi Ephraim Buckwold's Criqitue of 'Rabad of Posquières: A Programmatic Essay'", TheTorah u-Madda Journal 14 (2006-7): 206-9. 26 Mordechaiy Shevuot, Hagahot, 784; Mordechai ha-Shalem, ed. Yehoshua Horowitz (Jerusalem: Machón Yerushalayim, 2009), 286-8. On the problem of transferring debts, see Haym Soloveitchik, "Rabad of Posquières: A Programmatic Essay", Studies in the History ofjewish Society in the Middle A^es and in the Modern Period, eds. E. Etkes and Y. Salmon (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1980), 34-6.</page><page sequence="6">6 PINCHAS ROTH moneylender had already renounced his ownership of the debt, he no longer possessed any hold over it and could not sell it a second time.27 New responsa Isaac ben Peretz wrote a lengthy responsum devoted to the legal status of a depositary.28 Several Talmudic passages refer to the depositary (shalish) but their casuistic nature led to confusion among the medieval commentators regarding the essential nature of the depositary and the extent of his authority.29 The earliest enunciation of these laws appears in a Tannaitic source: The admission of a litigant is worth the evidence of one hundred witnesses, but a depositary is more credible than either litigant. One says thus and the other says thus, and the depositary says thus, the depositary is believed. When? As long as the deposit is in his possession. If the deposit is not in his possession, he is like any other person.30 Despite the explicit statement in this source that the depositary's authority existed only as long as the deposit was in his possession, such a major authority as Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg (Maharam, d. 1293) held that, under certain circumstances, a depositary continued to enjoy special credibility even after his active role had come to an end.31 In the light of this new manuscript evidence, we can determine that Isaac of Northampton anticipated Maharam's position by several decades. Within his discussion, Isaac quoted three earlier sources. One respon- sum is unattributed (he refers to it only as "another responsum") but the other two citations are English. First, he presented the opinion of Rabenu Tam (d. 1171), the great Tosafist sage, as recorded by the latter's disciple Benjamin of Cambridge.32 In response to this opinion of Rabenu Tam, 27 Eliav Shochetman, Ma'aseh ha-ba be-auerah (Illegal act) (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1981), 75-8, 13-54. 28 Ms. Vercelli, fol. ļļ[, in the margin. I intend to publish this responsum elsewhere in the near future. 29 Isaac ben Abba Mari, Se/er ha-Ittur (Warsaw, 1878), 43b~44C; Jacob ben Asher, Arba'ah Turim, Hoshen Mishpat §55, Digest of the Responsa Literature, eds. Berachyahu Lifshitz and Eliav Shochetman (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Jewish Law Institute, 1997), 356. 30 tBM 1:10 (ed. Lieberman, vol. 5, 64). 31 Simcha Emanuel, Responsa of Rabbi Meir 0/ Rothenburg and His Colleagues (Hebrew; Jerusalem: World Union ofjewish Studies, 2012), 193-4. 32 Cecil Roth, The Intellectual Activities of Medieval English Jewry (London: Oxford University Press, [1948?]), , 29-32; Urbach, Tosaphists, 108-9; Dobson, Jewish Communities o/Medieval England, 108-10.</page><page sequence="7">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 7 Isaac then quoted from an autograph manuscript of Yossi of Nicole, who was active in 1225.33 Benjamin of Cambridge's words were probably quoted by Rabbi Yossi and through him by Isaac ben Peretz. In this article, I publish four responsa or Halakhic statements by Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton.34 One of these appears in printed sources but Isaac of Northampton's name in it was lost or corrupted. Most of the new material was found in the margins of a fourteenth-century copy of Sefer Mordechai held in the archbishop's seminary in Vercelli, a manuscript well known for the unique citations preserved in its glosses.35 These texts are transcribed below. Responsumi The first responsum published here (Ms. Vercelli, fol. 264.r) deals with a communal conflict arising from the donation of a Torah scroll to the synagogue.36 The community already possessed a scroll that had been donated some time earlier by another person. If the new scroll were to be adopted as the communal scroll, the older scroll would be neglected, depriving the scroll and its donator of their prestige in the community. This question does not come up in surviving responsa from Northern Europe but a similar situation was discussed by Simeon ben Zemah Duran (d. 1444, Algeria), who made a forceful argument for continuing to use the old scroll.37 In this responsum, Isaac ben Peretz proposed a compromise: the new scroll could be used for the main Torah reading on Saturday morning and the older scroll would serve for the 33 For another medieval citation from Yossi of Nicole's original copy, see Sęfer ha-Semak mi-Zurich, ed. Isaac Jacob Har-Shoshanim-Rosenberg, vol. 2 (Jerusalem: AB, 1977), 130. On R. Yossi, see Cecil Roth, 'Rabbi Berechiah of Nicole (Benedict of Lincoln)', Journal of Jewish Studies 1 (1948-9): 74-75; Urbach, Tosophists, 509-11. 34 A comment by Isaac ben Peretz in biblical exegesis is found in Ms. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, de Rossi 355, fol. 153b. This manuscript was copied in San Severo (southern Italy) in 1508. 35 On the Vercelli Ms., see Pinchas Roth and Ethan Zadoff, "The Talmudic Community of Thirteenth-Century England", Christians and Jews in Angeuin England: The York Massacre of ligo - Narratives and Contexts, eds. Sarah Rees Jones and Sethina Watson (York: York Medieval Press, 2013), 195, 200-01. 36 In relation to Torah scrolls in medieval English communities, see the speculative suggestion of Evyatar Marienberg, "The Stealing of the 'Apple of Eve' from the 13th century Synagogue of Winchester", Henry m Fine Rolls Project, http://frh3.0rg.uk/ C0ntent/m0nth/fm-i2-20ii.html (accessed 10 June 2014). 37 Simeon ben Zemah Duran, Sefer ha-Tashbetz, vol. 2, no. 106, ed. Yoel Katan (Shaalvim: Machón Yerushalayim, 2002), 114.</page><page sequence="8">8 PINCHAS ROTH shorter readings on Monday and Thursday mornings and Saturday afternoon. f?mm D'r1! ivo inaœ ins wx iv xaicnnnai ps '13 pnr inn ^x ^xtw 13 mip1? nnn D'ai1? n"o 3-nnm ins wx X3 a"nxi .nana pí 13 niip1? noia insn '3 swi .i3xaa ism1?! navaa iircxin mm1?! 'innen "?np3 irasn"? nxa nan inn mi a»a nnp1? "?npn nia1? l'xw s"s;x inzmis rmp1? Dnn ixw3i noasn "33 nasaa rs p^o1? xrsp w itPX3 'a .ima» iv ira it muna mnsœa vnw nssa (x"j? a1 imnao) îaa i3f? napn D'ans?! □pVo1? xbw msan aan1? "anpan mx ^aai ,'ia n"?nn niais? 'ax nais it 'na 'sai (x"s? r) "aiya vx 's "ansa 'mxia Dnnnx "san "inx "rara la .laipaa msv nma mm x"? nawa œxi an'im "&gt;sxœ ,(yv Ta) maym nannn 'D "^p^a wxt) vins Kan mx V'aœa wx msa mm1? xrsp vr n"?n ^a i^yœaœ (x"y na) mayn 'oaa pi ,(T'5? Ta ,x"n ts a^pœ 'a^wiT) xiw D'ss? nx^a nation "sxœ irpnn û'sï i3iarim i"?x ma d'xì? issa kYi □P^o1? ïôm irpnn it nisab» laipœ nnx os?on nn .nVnn i^x x"?x "aip vm na "ama vnw na^n 'anna (a ,a o^pw nawa) "»xa îai .mx mx Vaon wnoaa (x"s? ao xav) pi .'aiwxm p mxaœ »n^nn nanna irs srr1? rax 'DV 'i l'iw amaw D'iaiy amawi xxaa a"nxi vnnn mx cmsm laxi mos îxxaœ 'D1? D^isn i-iax' xaw n"o im lais1? win1? er 'a toi .ļiwxi3 msa 'ix xavai (x"5? xa) l'iaxa V?xi 'D noioa "Iaxis inxn Vaun im-i'asn "710s ia -psi ."Tipsn ©aína® mm ix ns ns ivi xmp raw (x"y v) i'? xa 's .p^n1? nxp vrv D"5?x iwxi im lais 'asa 'arcai n'a 'ipai xa'inx n"o 'm'ai la mm aio 'awn ax ^ax .'awn Vawa iiwxin p^o1? xiao diï? rx nnya (3"5? 0 xap xas) 'naxi3 .nnxsa 13 msa nim'i niions pmai liwxin .nx3 n"o 1*7 new imixi ^x nT (3 ,io maw) "naia iv msa mn msa 'ix 'ot 'i 'ia *raxi mos wiaan (x"s? 3D) i'? ix'sin 's xai'3 "iaxi "pVoa ias» mx nnw ima rim .13 lax'S' laaa inaia 'aw nłn dxi ļiwxi3 'pni 'ipa 'xn (X"» X3 xin3 X33) nsn' ni 's 'n'xia inx ^'a^a mix wo '13 xnw2V owa om x*7i p"n xmn smai n,l7 "p^oa p"i x*7i cui niw nn 113*7 msa la'nx xai .laa'n p"na 'awn ax iiwxi n"o "pVoaw 'soiaa iiaipn n"03 ixip'i n'jwi oswa mipVi inn o'sn1? mxn ia mxsn vn'i ia» 'nisi ia '3 nnviasi n"i3i 'm '33 'naa3 ixip' 'aw n"03i mn3w .yio 13 pnr 'iVwi .'s nax 11x1*7 Rabbi Isaac ben Peretz of Northampton38 was asked about a man who gave a Torah scroll to the community, and for a long time they had been accustomed to read from it. Afterwards, a man came and donated a Torah scroll to the community, and he wants it to be read in public on Sabbath days. He desires to push aside the first [scroll] from its stature, 38 The Ms. reads: "de-Norhantona".</page><page sequence="9">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 9 to overthrow it from its standing. He [i.e., Rabbi Isaac] responded that his opinion was inclined to read from the first [scroll]. Even though the community cannot be forced to read [from it], nevertheless, the spirit of the law and the right thing is to preserve its status. Because when there is a demand to expel a man from his position in the synagogue and in other matters, a solution is found; similarly it is forbidden to displace one man's performance of a commandment because of someone who comes after him. This is what happened in Sepphoris,39 when [two] families were bickering with each other, each saying "I will pass first". Similarly in the second chapter of Arakhin and the last chapter ofTaanit,40 in regard to people who came early out of enthusiasm to perform the commandment, that they should not be displaced because of others who come later, and that even Jehoiarib the head of the guards cannot push Jedaiah from his place. Similarly, in the fourth chapter of Shekalim41 and in tractate Taanit,42 when the Diaspora Jews ascended [to Jerusalem] and they could not find wood, these people came and donated wood; it was ordained that even when the Chamber is full of wood, they would always buy from them first. So we find43 in regard to the Temple funds, that they would write [the letters] aleph bet ¿jimel to keep track of which was donated first, because the commandment is [i.e., it is better] to take from the first. Similarly44 regarding someone who set aside [a lamb for] his Paschal offering and it was lost and he set aside another in its stead, and then the first was found. Now there are two [lambs] of equal standing but Rabbi Yose says it is better to take the first. In addition, there is a concern that the Torah scroll might be considered disqualified, for people may say that it was taken away and replaced by the other [scroll] because a fault was found in it. This is akin to what is said in the fifth chapter of Sotah45 and the seventh chapter of Yoma46 that the High Priest would recite by heart the section of "And on the tenth day" in Leviticus (23:27). [The Talmud] asks, "Let him bring another Torah scroll and read from it!", and it answers "Because it would discredit the first [scroll]". But there is room to distinguish [between the cases].47 39 bSan. 19a. 40 bAr. 13a, bTaan. 27b. 41 yShek. 4:1 (47ā). 42 bTaan. 28a. 43 mShek. 3:2. 44 bYom. 62a (tPes. 9:12). 45 bSot.4ia. 46 bYom. 70a. 47 In the Talmudic example, the first scroll has already been brought out and is then put away for no apparent reason. In the case before Isaac of Northampton, the first scroll would simply be left in the Ark, and the attractiveness of the newly donated scroll would be obvious to the congregation.</page><page sequence="10">10 PINCHAS ROTH Therefore there is no justification for replacing the first [scroll] with the second. But if the second [scroll] is better and more ornate than the first, and accurate in its defective and plene spellings, it is better to [use] it than the first, as it says48 "To perform a commandment in an exemplary manner, one should go up to a third [of the ordinary expense]", as it is written This is my God and I will praise Hinť (Exodus 15:2) - make yourself a beautiful Torah scroll". And they say in the fifth chapter of Yoma:49 "Someone who set aside a Paschal offering and it was lost . . . Rabbi Yose says it is better to use the first, but if the second was choicer, that is the one he should bring". This stands to reason, since even a person can be displaced by another person, as it says in the second chapter of Baba Batra: "A schoolteacher who reads quickly and inaccurately, we send him away and seat the one who is careful but slow, for [once] a mistake [is implanted it cannot be eradicated]".50 All the more so, we should remove the first Torah scroll if the second is more accurate. Please, my brothers, it is best to find a straight path that will bring glory to the man [who donated the first Torah scroll], to appease his mind and to [bring] justice and peace. They should read from the original Torah scroll at Sabbath morning prayers, and from the second Torah scroll at the afternoon prayers and on Monday and Thursday and on the New Moon and on festivals, because this is what I discussed with him, and I hope that my words will find favour. Shalom - Isaac bar Peretz. Responsum 2 This account (Ms. Vercelli, fol. 326b) of a Halakhic discussion among rabbinic authorities from throughout the French realm in the mid- thirteenth century concerns a marriage ceremony in which the ring used had been bought by the groom with the express intent of selling it back for less than its worth after the wedding. According to the Talmud (bKid. 6b), an act of marriage effected by a gift that must be returned to its owner is invalid. Nonetheless, many weddings in medieval France and Germany were contracted with borrowed rings, and local rabbinic decisors searched for ways to justify the widespread practice.51 In the case under discussion, 48 bBK 9b. 49 bYom. 62a. 50 bBB. 21a. 51 For a survey of the opinions, see Asher ben Yehiel, Piske ha-Rosh, Kidushin 1, 20. Presumably, this custom is connected to the ornate wedding rings used by medieval European Jews, on which see Thérèse and Mendel Metzger, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages: illuminated Hebrew Manuscripts of the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries (New York: Alpine Fine Arts, 1982), 228 n. 342; Vivian B. Mann, "'New' Examples of Jewish Ceremonial Art</page><page sequence="11">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz il the groom tried to avoid the legal problem by selling the ring back for a lower price, but his gambit was unsuccessful. Rabbi Samuel ben Shneur of Évreux disqualified the marriage and his opinion was supported by "all the rabbis", including Yehiel of Paris, Netanel of Chinon, Sir Durant of La Rochelle, and Isaac of Northampton.52 The account was recorded by Isaac of Ourville in his Sęfer ha-Menahel.53 That is no longer extant but selections from it were included in Orhot Hayyim and Sęfer Kol Bo, two versions of a Halakhic compendium by Aaron ha-Kohen of Narbonne that have both been published, and this account is among those selections preserved in his works.54 Another version of the story in a manuscript of Semak mi- Zurich was mentioned by Heinrich Gross in his study of Jewish geography in medieval France.55 However, in all these versions, the toponym from Medieval Ashkenaz", Artibus et Historiai 17 (1988): 13-14; Roni Weinstein, Marriage Rituals Italian Style: A Historical Anthropological Perspective on Early Modern Italian Jews (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 204-6; Daniel Sperber, Thejewish Life Cycle: Custom, Lore and Iconography -Jewish Customs/rom the Cradle to the Graue (Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 2008), 158-65. Although many of the extant rings are most probably nineteenth-century forgeries, there are some undisputed medieval Jewish wedding rings: Gertrude Seidmann, "Jewish Marriage Rings", The International Silver &amp; Jewellery Fair &amp; Seminar (London: The Fair, 1989), 29-34; Joseph Gutmann, "With This Ring I will Thee Wed: Unusual Wedding Rings", in For Every Thing a Season: Proceedings of the Symposium on Jewish Ritual Art, ed. Joseph Gutmann (Cleveland: Cleveland State University, 2002), 133-45; Maria Stürzebecher, "Der Schatzefund aus der Michaelisstrasse in Erfurt", in Die Mittelalterliche Jüdische Kultur in Erfurt, ed. Sven Ostritz, vol. 1 (Weimar: Thüringischen Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie, 2010), 94-9. My thanks to Joel Binder, Sharon Lieberman Mintz, David Wachtel, and Daniel Tabak for their help with some of these references. 52 On Samuel of Évreux, see Ephraim Kanarfogel, The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture 0/ Medieval Ashkenaz (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013), 348-59. On Netanel of Chinon, see Avraham Grossman, "Rabbi Netanel of Chinon", Mehqerei Talmud III: Talmudic Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Ephraim E. Urbach, eds. Yaakov Sussman and David Rosenthal (Hebrew; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2005), 174-89. On the custom among medieval French Jews to refer to distinguished rabbis by the title Sir and a Latinized version of their Hebrew names, see Simcha Emanuel, "Biographical Data on R. Baruch b. Isaac" (Hebrew), Tarbiz 69 (2000): 429. 53 Grossman, "Rabbi Netanel", 179 n. 22. 54 Kol Bo (Italy?, 1491-2?), §143, fol. i66r; Orchoth Chajim uon R. Aharon Hakohen aus Lunel, ed. Moses Schlesinger (Hebrew; Berlin: H. Itzkowski, 1902), 55-6. For the bibliographic issues surrounding these two works, see Judah Galinsky, "Of Exile and Halakhah: Fourteenth- Century Spanish Halakhic Literature and the Works of the French Exiles Aaron ha-Kohen and Jeruhamb.Meshulam", Jewish History 22 (2008): 84-6. For discussion of this version of the account, see also Heinrich Gross, Gallia Judaica (Paris: Cerf, 1897), 659. 55 Gross, Gallia Judaica, 312-13; Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Ms. Or. Qu. 3, fol. 8or. For further parallels, see Simcha Emanuel, Fragments 0/ the Tablets: Lost Books of the Tosaphists (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2006), 197 n. 47.</page><page sequence="12">12 PINCHAS ROTH Northampton was either corrupted or dropped entirely, thus erasing the role that Isaac ben Peretz played in this discussion. i nap ntzwa mnsa "»tzmpn nm* mntf? a"y nana rmo anx D "tzmjn p"sn 'nna mani .aV?a rwnpn ļw *nn"Ka *?Kiaw "»an min nana up in^aa *s ,'^na mapa nwx iw nt^xa -iah» up irf?aa (a"y raaon ni^Kn mtnn ax «am nxp p^rï? w d"j;ki .nwaa viVit mmrf? a"y n "pttfiTp) na*n ļiatpaa tznpa^ nnr imaf? vi ,myan n^ mrm ima1? «'w *?a Vwa tznpnntìn liawa ronrc n1? naiaa KpVT int a"a ^tzmpan (awy ìaujon pi .(affy t twpp) aaiw -»ans *òn anw laa unai rö mrm vw toi *?aana "»an mpm «aioanmaa vm ^m *an nmm ."»wnpn auann *?a nnna nama aína1?! *oitr ona tqVi rnttf? ins^ irt'pin aann KTtzn ^aitrn "tzmpn rn iťra afta tk nauzran mana tm nanpia 'aiwannw ^ 'ana -pa1?! mm1? ins 'w n« nwarc na m*raw nnm .ins nn« wn an "3w«n "wvrp1? ww mmznn nanai usa wipb pn awwai "oitk "oitk ona ma*? inori? ^sa *òw nasi mrm nwrcnff natopx ra "V»sna nainaa h an .nwn "sw laa muox 'n*ra t»k an nom «Vi Vrrrrca ^Kwai 'n tf? napn *dk *a ma lapłn aar łm ira raa n1? napnw nnaan naiwan /xa an a"y .iaa na nsnnn amp *a* A man bought a [wedding] ring from his friend on the condition that he would return it after the betrothal for less than he had paid for it - Rabbi Samuel of Évreux ruled that the betrothal was invalid. This can be proved from the first chapter of Kiddushin: "It can buy anything other than a woman, because a woman is not acquired by barter."56 This means that a conditional gift can acquire anything, but not a wife. However, one must distinguish somewhat [between the cases], since if the woman returns the ring to the seller he will give her back the money, and one should rather compare it to a man who betrothed [a woman] with a pawn, about which it says57 that she is betrothed. Nevertheless, [the Talmud's statement that she is betrothed] is only when he told her that it was a pawn and that she was betrothed by its full value and that he would give her its full value, and it is effective just like silk which does not need to be appraised [in order to effect betrothal].58 All of the rabbis agreed to disqualify this betrothal. Rabbi Yehiel and Rabbi I. from Northampton59 and the holy Rabbi Netanel and Sir Durant de Rochelle ruled that he must recite the blessing of betrothal a second time and write a [fresh] ketubbah, because the first one is [now dated] too early, and the first [marriage] blessings are worthless because 56 bKid. 6b. 57 bKid. 8b. 58 bKid. 7b. 59 The Ms. reads: "Norhantona".</page><page sequence="13">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 13 the betrothal did not count, and he also needs a new huppah [marriage ceremony]. Rabbi Shneuer60 ben Shneuer said that he does not need to recite the betrothal and wedding blessings again, but simply to perform the betrothal in front of witnesses, because the first blessings recited at the first betrothal are effective. It is just like a minor girl who was married off by her mother and brothers - we do not find that [the groom] needs to recite the betrothal and wedding blessings or to perform the huppah again when they reach majority, nor is intercourse with her forbidden, as the "lord" [Rabbi Samson of Sens] explained.61 Also, the first ketubbah is sufficient since he legally gave it to her from then [and] they know the day on which he gave it to her, for even if he gave it to her eight days before the huppah, what would that matter? Till here [is the] gloss that I found. Responsum 3 A Jew, here (Ms. Vercelli, fol. 337t) given the stock name Reuben, fled his hometown in order to avoid a tallage (matanah, gift) that was being imposed on the local community. He deposited with a fellow Jew ("Simeon") the title to a debt of twenty marks that he was holding. In Reuben's absence, Simeon managed to collect the debt in full. Unaware of this positive development, and pessimistic about his chances of collecting the debt, Reuben sold the debt to another Jew, "Levi", for the sharply discounted price of four marks. When Reuben discovered that the debt had been collected on his behalfby Simeon, he demanded the right to cancel his sale of the debt to Levi, since it was based on his mistaken assumption that the full value of the debt would not be realized. In his responsum, Isaac ben Peretz accepted Reuben's claim and disqualified the sale to Levi as a mistaken transaction. His legal opinion is based on a straightforward reading of Talmudic passages with Rashi's accompanying commentary. A number of tallages were imposed on the Jews of England over the course of the thirteenth century, at least one of which was explicitly for the purpose of a gift.62 One of the most important of those tallages was in 1241-2, a period that accords well with our knowledge of Isaac of North- ampton's activity around the middle of the century.63 In the 1241-2 tallage, 60 Although this name is found in all the versions of this account, it should almost certainly be corrected to "Samuel"; Emanuel, Fragments o/the Tablets, 197 n. 47. 61 Rabbi Samson ofSens in H aga hot Mord ech ai, Kiddushin §545. 62 The tallage or 1236, ror the marriage or Princess Isabel; Michael Adler, Aaron of York", Transactions ofthejeuiish Historical Society o/England 8 (1935): 126. 63 Robert Stacey, "Royal Taxation and the Social Structure ofMedieval Anglo-Jewry: The Tallages of 1239-1242", Hebrew Union College Annual 56 (1985): 175-249.</page><page sequence="14">14 PINCHAS ROTH six Jews of Northampton were recorded as having fled the city to avoid the tallage.64 Perhaps "Reuben" was one of those six. mai "&gt;pipt anrcya iisraw ra anin rpsnœ pisi ps na "nn1? bmi nsrr s"?a amnn p "pipr 'ntiwn ipD3n ywm Vāpi ninan '3sa msn p lisaw *?apw w ïôw 's1? "pipì "ra amnn *iY? pisi nasi .rpsan pisi aa "pipì onera naa -ni nmaan p pisn ia mn nnsn ."pipì "-itrran wna a'wm .nnm nmaa naai ia ntn1? pisi vsw i»io ,"pipr rpsan 's 'sia mn msoa i"3pi nivoa nVna nnw ia nrn1? "na' pis-is? saa) n"n 's pi .ma'? ssns nm ìmna1? 's^a mn (S"5? n"? s srsa saa) .nnam ssnsa ntu mm msnsa spia V»pnœs"r py an pi (s"ï sa trina paws 'aa 'am /ia ssawin nan 'su man 'aj (s"j? t) von p"so pi mm snmxa sinn 'aa (s"y îx mama) nam nia1?« &gt;s inn myco nmaai im'nss mm xri pra an 's 'ü'n ins hid1? in"nss s?"a minar rann» ^ipya saisi 'nV&gt;a 's^rsi sin msroa "vaai n'rna '83 nnn '^ai írnna1? mraon laisin -iran 'jw "ra (Lipsia píst n"i) dì? '"ansi /ia wp mn V'n nmaan rawai omna 'naia rn s'? *p 'naian ist i^sw ni^py i1?1'? "poa (dc mama) 'nm .'raí mn s'? 'in s'? msoa n'aai san ^as nrao 'an3 an nam a" w (aw) "Tins am .'rar mn 'tir1: tiqss s'?! rat 'na^m isaw is omna f?s naaw -ins1? 'naian 'na nrn® 65,nť? t-iüxs rVi par .ps ia pnr .'rat mn 66pipaa npw s^ ths® -ins mpaV von Rabbi Isaac ben Peretz was asked about Reuben, who deposited in the hands of Simeon a bond worth twenty marks, and then fled the city because of the tallage. Simeon, the depositary, received the twenty marks from the bond without Reuben's knowledge. Reuben sold the bond to Levi for 4 marks, because he did not know that Simeon had collected the twenty marks. Now Reuben wants to renege on the sale and says that he did not sell twenty marks for four marks. Levi claims that Reuben cannot renege and that his sale was valid. Rabbi Isaac responded that Reuben can renege, since a mistaken quitclaim and a mistaken acquisition return [to their first owners], as it says in the third chapter of Baba Mezia:67 "the jewels return to their owner and the land returns to its owner", and in the 64 Robert Stacey, Politics, Policy, and Finance under Henry III, 1216-1245 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 155; Stacey, "Royal Taxation", 230. 65 There may be several words missing here as the result of homeoteleuton (ira nînrc ansian pa nrmp onsion). It is difficult to determine how much more of Rashi's commentary was originally quoted here. 66 It seems clear that the word Io should be added here, as found in the text of Rashi's commentary. 67 bBM. 35a.</page><page sequence="15">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 15 third chapter of Baba Batra,68 about Rav Anan whose field was flooded and he rebuilt the fence in his neighbour's field, and at the end of the first chapter of Gittin69 about the gardeners who made a calculation. Likewise we find that a mistaken sale should return, in the eleventh chapter of Ketubbot70 regarding a food shortage in Nehardea, when everyone sold their mansions. Eventually wheat arrived, and Rav Nahman said that the mansions should return to their [original] owners. [The Talmud] explains that there it was also a case of mistaken quitting and mistaken sale, since it emerged that the boat was in the cove. Rashi explained there71 that because the river had risen, the boats were forced to take a detour [and delivery of the wheat was delayed]. If the sellers had known this, they would not have sold their homes, and at the time of the sale they were mistaken. But if the sale was not mistaken, it cannot be rescinded. The Talmud there72 concludes that if someone sold [his land] but is no longer pressed for funds, the sale can be rescinded. Rashi explained73 that from this we see that Rav Nahman agreed that if he sold but is no longer pressed for funds [the sale can be rescinded . . . but] if the [wheat] sellers reneged after the people sold their homes or if wheat arrived from elsewhere before they left their homes, the sale is [not] rescinded. Isaac bar Peretz. Responsum 4 Isaac ben Peretz responded to a query by ruling that clothes that are needed for the Festival of Passover or Tabernacles may not be repaired during the intermediate festival days (Hoi ha-Mo'ed), when only certain types of work are permitted. This ruling is unremarkable but many medieval decisors suggested exceptions to the rule, such as repairing in a purposely unprofessional manner.74 In this responsum (Ms. Sassoon 534» P- 636, §i48i75), Isaac ben Peretz did not suggest anyways in which to mitigate the prohibition. 68 bBB.4ia. 69 bGit. 14a. 70 bKet. 97a. 71 Rashi, Ketubot 97a, s.v. "de-arbe be-akule". 72 bKet. 97a. 73 Rashi, Ketubot 97a. 74 Jacob ben Asher, Arba'ah Turim, Orah Hayyim §541. 75 Now University or Toronto, medberg Collection, Ms. 5-011. My tnanks to Dr Albert Friedberg for the permission to publish this passage. Mentioned briefly in David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Daurid: Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebreu; and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), 181.</page><page sequence="16">16 PINCHAS ROTH Tua isnan -pis1? una bv Vina dhjû ]prb vkì pa Y'a pnr "inn a^n Vina nan irra ion to r^a *dk xm .maio toi nos to D^aiü owa nmť? man unan "plť? *pto riamai (K"$? na) Dunosa T«a n 'aa -rsnan łunaa (dv) rť? ma •»aa T«a m .unan Vina pv *?ai ,na Vnm tf? *?aK mxn &gt;nm *ò 'yian ins1? «iki ìrrn Dipa *?aa /rsnan -pra tw na^ łnwłn •»aa1? *ik mam in«1? hk maia unan ym1? nrw na*òa *?a 'aap ^an T«a m .msn "ìnx tfn msn 75/ tf? na*òa ^nm tf? *?aa ^nm ^a1? pw *?ai ■»aa1? va Vwitf? nmo*n r^a msn nntfn na*òa laa unan Vina na*òa «m n^nnna unan *?ma man no« unan Vina najfr "dki y?* ^a1? va min1' D'nos) isnan *?ina D^yaa iprf? ìTnn D^n 'to'? nnv snn toi .*ai r'a .*ò D3/n nav1? ,t»k D^n 'to1? ^an "öki unan -pi^ xanoa to (a"s? na Rabbi Isaac ben Peretz responded that it is forbidden to repair clothes during the intermediate Festival days, [even] for the purpose of the Festival such as the Festival days of Passover and Tabernacles. Since regarding the fourteenth day of Nisan, which is not even as severe as the intermediate days, Rabbi Meir said in Pesahim76 that work for the purpose of the Festival may be completed after midday but may not be commenced then - all the more so on the intermediate days. Rabbi Meir also held that there was a custom of prohibiting anything that is not for the purpose of the Festival.77 In any case, we see that even for the purpose of the Festival one may not commence, since Rabbi Meir said that any work which was for the purpose of the Festival may be completed after midday even for Galileans [whose custom was to do no work at all on the fourteenth] and certainly for Judeans [whose custom was to work until midday], but that it was forbidden to commence work, whether before or after midday. Now, work on the intermediate Festival day is like work after midday on the fourteenth [of Nisan], which - for Judeans and Galileans alike - may not be commenced, or even completed during the intermediate days, since completion on the intermediate days is like commencement on the fourteenth. In addition, this [stringent ruling] is clear because the Festival pilgrims were permitted to repair their shoes during the intermediate days;78 which is presumably similar to [repair] for the purpose of the Festival, and yet this was permitted only for pilgrims and not for the rest of the nation. 76 bPes. 55a. 77 Ibid. 78 bPes. 55b.</page><page sequence="17">New responsa by Isaac ben Peretz 17 Conclusion In these newly published responsa, Isaac ben Peretz presents himself as a confident and respected decisor to whom a variety of questions were addressed. He fielded queries about festival law and marriage law, a communal conflict over the donation of a Torah scroll, and compli- cations arising from a debt. The majority of these queries were apparently addressed specifically to Isaac of Northampton but in the case of the borrowed wedding ring, he was one of several French rabbis, spread from Paris to Chinon and La Rochelle, who expressed a uniform position. In his responsa, Isaac's opinion is usually presented succinctly and without provisions or exceptions, on the basis of fairly simple sources - the Babylonian Talmud and its classic commentary by Rashi (d. 1104). Occasionally, though, he revealed his knowledge of the Palestinian Talmud and of the opinions of the French Tosafists. In short, Isaac ben Peretz was a wide-ranging rabbinic expert and one of the leading Halakhic decisors of his generation - not only within England but in the Kingdom ofFranceaswell.</page></plain_text>