R. Yosef Bekhor Shor – Intellectual Profile
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This topic has not yet undergone editorial review Background 1 Life Name – ר' יוסף בכור שור, ר' יוסף מאורליינש, 2 probably ר' יוסף בן יצחק מאורליינש and ר' יוסף בר' יצחק בן הנדיב ר' יוסף מקינון 3 4 Dates – 12th century 5 Location – Orleans, Northern France Education and Occupation – No more than a skeletal history of R"Y Bekhor Shor’s life can be constructed from the extant sources. 6 Lived in the 12th century Northern French Tosafist milieu and was a disciple of R. Tam. 7 He was a Halakhist/Talmudist whose novellae are included in Tosafot, as well as a Bible commentator. From his writings it can be deduced that he knew Latin and was familiar with Christian biblical exegesis. 8 He also was a פייטן (author of liturgical poems) who had a well-developed literary sense. 9 10 His prominent position within the Tosafist world is attested by frequent use of his commentaries by later Tosafist compilations. 11 Family – R"Y Bekhor Shor cites his father once in his commentary, and he had a son who is cited in Tosafist literature, called R. Avraham b. R. Yosef of Orleans. 12 13 Teachers – R. Yaakov Tam 14 Contemporaries – Rashbam, , R. Eliezer of Beaugency 15 R. Avraham Ibn Ezra 16 Students – Time period – – World outlook – Works Biblical commentaries – Torah, Tehillim 17 18 Rabbinics – Talmudic novellae – R"Y Bekhor Shor is cited a number of times in Tosafot on the Talmud 19 Halakhic codes – Responses to the works of others – Responsa – Conducted Halakhic correspondence with R. Tam. 20 Jewish thought – Other works – Piyuttim 21 Misattributed works –
R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary. Characteristics Verse by verse / Topical – Genre – Structure – Language – Peshat and derash – Methods Themes Textual Issues Manuscripts – R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah commentary has survived in only one mid-sixteenth century manuscript, MS Munich 52. This manuscript has served as the basis for all printed editions of the commentary. 22 Printings – Originally published piecemeal beginning in the mid 19th century. Bereshit and Shemot were published by A. Jellinek (Leipzig, 1856), Vayikra by M. Halevi in HaZofeh LeHokhmat Yisrael 8 (1924), Bemidbar 1–15 by J. Neumann (Frankfurt, 1900), Bemidbar 16–36 by M. Bamberger (Budapest, 1928), Devarim 1–15 by A. Zweig (Breslau, 1914), and Devarim 32 and 34 by G. Walter (Breslau, 1890). The first complete edition was published by Y. Gad (Yerushalayim, 1956-1960), and this was followed by Y. Nevo, (Yerushalayim, 1994). For more on the AlHaTorah.org edition, see R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary. 23 Textual layers – see R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary. Sources Significant Influences Earlier Sources – Rashi Teachers – His father – cited only once in Vayikra 23:16. The Sefer HaGan Shemot 27:18 records an additional interpretation which R"Y Bekhor Shor transmitted in the name of his father. R. Tam – R. Eliezer of Mainz / Beaugency – cited only once in a gloss on Vayikra 22:25. 24 Foils – Occasional Usage Menachem b. Saruq – cited only once in Shemot 14:20. R. Chayyug - cited only once in Devarim 11:26. R. Avraham b. Hiyya – cited once in Devarim 28:63. 25 R. Yosef Kara – cited nine times: Bereshit 4:23-24, 34:25, 49:9, Shemot 4:11, 20:1, Devarim 14:1, 28:68, 32:17, 33:1. Rashbam – cited five times: Bereshit 36:12 ("ורבי' שמו' מצא"), 26 Shemot 2:14 ("ומשם רבי' שמואל שמעתי"), 3:14 ("ור' שמואל פירש"), 6:13 ("ור' שמואל פירש"), 14:25 ("ומשום רבי' שמואל שמעתי"). There are many other interpretations of R"Y Bekhor Shor, though, which were taken from or influenced by Rashbam. 27 Ibn Ezra – cited only twice in the glosses to the commentary on Bereshit 49:4, Shemot 24:11, and another time in the name of R"Y Bekhor Shor in Sefer HaGan Bereshit 2:23. R. Shelomo Parchon – cited only once in the gloss to the commentary on Bereshit 33:6. R. Ovadiah b. Shemuel HaSefaradi – cited nine 28 times: Bereshit 2:2, 18:5, 39:2, Shemot 4:11, 10:2, 15:26, 22:19, 23:25, Devarim 31:18. 29 30 R. Yitzchak HaGer – cited twice (both of which are glosses): Shemot 3:13, 4:11. 31 R. Karshava – cited only once in Bereshit 44:10. R. Tuv Elem – cited only once in a gloss to Vayikra 20:14. R. Berechya – cited only once in a gloss to Vayikra 19:19. Possible Relationship Impact
1 For background on R"Y Bekhor Shor and his literary oeuvre, see: S. Poznanski's introduction, "מבוא על חכמי צרפת מפרשי המקרא", to his edition of פירוש על יחזקאל ותרי עשר לרבי אליעזר מבלגנצי (Warsaw, 1914): 55-75. E. E. Urbach, Ba'alei HaTosafot (Jerusalem, 1968; hereafter: Urbach, Ba’alei HaTosafot). Y. Nevo in his introduction to פירושי רבי יוסף בכור שור על התורה (Jerusalem, 1994). Y. Priel, "רבנו יוסף בכור שור: מעמדו בעולם הפרשנות ותהליך החשיפה המחודש של פירושו", Oreshet 1 (2010, hereafter: Priel, R. Yosef). E. Kanarfogel, The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture of Medieval Ashkenaz (Detroit, 2012): 126-162. 2 The appellation "בכור שור" is a reference to Yosef's blessing in Devarim 33:17, and is used by R"Y Bekhor Shor to refer to himself in his commentary on Devarim 10:10. 3 It has been definitively established (see already Poznanski and Urbach) that R. Yosef Bekhor Shor is the same person as R. Yosef of Orleans. This conclusion is based on: Earlier doubts regarding this identity had resulted primarily from Paneach Raza's juxtaposition of interpretations cited in the name of "אורליינש" with interpretations cited in the name of "רבינו בכור שור". In addition, the printed editions of the Paneach Raza's Introduction read: "ובדברי ר"י דאורלייניש ובכור שור והגן שתי אותותי". However, these printings are all based on the heavily redacted (and sometimes corrupted) first printing of the Maharal's son-in-law in 1607 who states explicitly that he took full liberties to change the text as he thought best. Thus, a glance at manuscripts of the Paneach Raza (such as Oxford Opp. 103 and Parma 3512) can allay these doubts. The original version of the Introduction reads: "ומדברי ר' יעקב מאורליינש ופי' רבי' בכור שור וקצת מה שמצאתי בגן", making it abundantly clear that Paneach Raza was indeed using the work of two separate Tosafists who hailed from Orleans, but that the name of the other one was R. Yaakov of Orleans (and not R. Yosef of Orleans, who is in fact identical with R. Yosef Bekhor Shor). [And perhaps precisely to avoid confusion between the two, the Paneach Raza consistently refers to R. Yosef Bekhor Shor using his nickname, and not as R"Y of Orleans.] Citations in Rabbinic literature of the same halakhic position in the names of both R. Yosef Bekhor Shor and R. Yosef of Orleans: Tosafot Yevamot 25b s.v. היא = Tosafot Makkot 6a s.v. נרבע Tosafot Yevamot 36b s.v. ולא, Or Zarua 1:629, Mordekhai Yevamot 19 = Tosafot Sens Sotah 24a, Responsa of Maharam (Prague) #863, Semak #183, Orechot Chayyim 2:59 Tosafot Chullin 112b s.v. ודגים, Or Zarua 1:472 = Semak #205 Tosafist citations of the same Biblical interpretation in the names of both R. Yosef of Orleans and R. Yosef Bekhor Shor: Sefer HaGan, Paneach Raza Bereshit 6:6 = Commentary attributed to Rosh Bereshit 6:6, Hadar Zekenim Shemot 7:25 = Minchat Yehuda Shemot 8:12. Tosafist citations in the name of R. Yosef of Orleans of interpretations found in R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah commentary (MS Munich 52): MS Hamburg 52 Bereshit 41:1, MS London 9931 Bereshit 31:33, 32:31, 41:1, 43:33, MS Lutzki 791 Bereshit 50:15, and the passages from the Or Zarua, Arugat HaBosem, and Tosafot on the Talmud cited in the notes on the R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary page. [For the evidence that the commentary in MS Munich 52 was written by R. Yosef Bekhor Shor, see R. Yosef Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary.] 4 The basis for יצחק being the name of the father of ר' יוסף מאורליינש is somewhat complicated. Responsa Sefer HaYashar 36-39 record a correspondence between R. Tam and R. Yosef b. Yitzchak of Orleans. It is possible that, in addition to R. Yosef Bekhor Shor of Orleans, there was a different R. Yosef b. Yitzchak of Orleans who also interacted with R. Tam. However, Responsa Sefer HaYashar 55-56 records another correspondence between R. Tam and R. Yosef of Orleans, and the position taken by R. Yosef in this second correspondence (see also Tosafot Chulin 98b-99a s.v. רבא) matches both the interpretation of R"Y Bekhor Shor Bemidbar 6:3 (where he cites his commentary on Chulin) and the position of ר' יוסף בר' יצחק בן הנדיב ר' יוסף מקינון cited by the Sefer HaTerumah #49. Moreover, Tosafot Chullin 112b s.v. ודגים and Or Zarua 1:472 cite a position of R. Yosef of Orleans which is cited in the name of R. Yosef b. Yitzchak in the Sefer HaTerumah #68 and in the name of ריב"ש (= ר' יוסף בכור שור) in the Semak #205. 5 While there is no direct evidence as to when R"Y Bekhor Shor was born or died, we know that he wrote a question to R. Tam (d. 1171) as a young man, which would indicate his birth could not have been much later than 1150. G. Walter (Joseph Bechor Schorr, der letzte nordfranzösische bibelexeget (Breslau, 1890): 7-8) estimates that Bekhor Shor was born circa 1140. Sefer HaTerumah, which cites R"Y Bekhor Shor (see footnote 4), was completed in 1204 (MS Moscow 109 pg. 73). Regarding the dating of R"Y Bekhor Shor's commentaries, S.A. Poznanski (מבוא על חכמי צרפת מפרשי המקרא , (Warsaw, 1913): LVIII) notes that R"Y Bekhor Shor cites (in Bereshit 33:6) a work by R. Shelomo ibn Parchon which is known to have been written in 1161. A. Geiger posits that this Italian work could not have spread to Northern France for several years, and thus sets the composition date of R"Y Bekhor Shor’s Torah commentary as no earlier than 1170 (see. A. Geiger, ספר פרשנדתא על חכמי צרפת מפרשי המקרא (Leipzig, 1856): 41). Similarly, M. Idel ("פירוש מזמור יט לר' יוסף בכור שור", Alei Sefer 9 (1981): 64) argues that R"Y Bekhor Shor’s commentary to Tehillim was influenced by Chovot HaLevavot, and thus could not have been written before 1161, when that work was first translated into Hebrew. 6 There exists a lone medieval report of a historical incident involving R"Y Bekhor Shor (see Urbach, Ba’alei HaTosafot: 135). In this account, he is confronted by a devoted convert to Christianity, and he succeeds in refuting Christianity based on Yeshayahu 52:13 and bringing about the apostate’s immediate repentance. 7 See Urbach ibid.: 137-139 for a discussion of the correspondence between the two. 8 See Urbach ibid.: 135. In his commentary, he confronts contemporary Christians – and Jews – who allegorize the commandments, defending traditional Jewish practice and belief. See for example Bekhor Shor to Devarim 10:9 and Vayikra 17:13. 10 Urbach (ibid.: 137-138) discusses a Halakhic question sent by R. Yosef of Orleans and another scholar to R. Tam that is presented in the form of a novella-like dialogue between two litigants. Urbach has this to say about it: "אין לנו מימי הביניים דוגמאות רבות של פרוזה חיה וגמישה כזו, שחוט של חן משוך עליה". Although the question was signed also by the other scholar, Urbach sees it as likely that Bekhor Shor was the actual author, as the rest of the correspondence on the matter is addressed by R. Tam solely to him. 11 Though the commentaries often appear uncredited. Such compendia include Da’at Zekeinim, Hadar Zekeinim, and Chizkuni. He is cited less frequently in Moshav Zekeinim, Pa’aneach Raza, and Minchat Yehudah. See Y.H. Nisan, Medieval Ashkenazi Bible Interpretation: A Textual Analysis of Rabbi Joseph Bekhor Shor's Torah Commentary (McGill University MA thesis, 1997, hereafter: Nisan, Analysis): 103-118, for an in-depth analysis of this issue. 12 In his commentary to Vayikra 23:16 (which does not mention his father’s name). See the note above that it appears to have been Yitzchak. 13 See Urbach, ibid.: 140-141. 14 See Responsa Maharshal 29 and see Responsa Sefer HaYashar 36-39, 55-56 discussed above. Bekhor Shor, however, never mentions R. Tam or his grammatical work Hakhra’ot in his Torah commentary. Urbach (ibid.:136) theorizes that this is because Bekhor Shor paid scant attention to grammatical matters in his commentary. There are, however, cases where Bekhor Shor seems to be following his master’s commentary despite not citing him. See Nisan, Analysis: 92. See also ibid.: 19-25, for an analysis of Bekhor Shor’s grammatical comments. 15 A Northern French peshat exegete. 16 The relationship between Ibn Ezra and Bekhor Shor is a matter of scholarly debate. Ibn Ezra is mentioned twice in Bekhor Shor’s commentary (Bereshit 49:4, Shemot 24:11), but both instances are introduced with the note “haggah”, apparently indicating that it was added by a copyist. There are affinities between the commentaries in a number of places, but on the question of influence there are a range of opinions, from those who think it indisputable that Bekhor Shor was acquainted with Ibn Ezra’s commentaries, to those who claim that Bekhor Shor was completely unaware of Ibn Ezra’s commentaries Some scholars also see some potential influence of Bekhor Shor on Ibn Ezra. See Nisan, Analysis: 83-90. 17 Bekhor Shor’s commentary belongs to the Northern French peshat school, which included commentators such as Rashi, R. Yosef Kara, Rashbam, and R. Eliezer of Beaugency, the latter two being older contemporaries of Bekhor Shor. Scholarly consensus views Bekhor Shor as occupying a middle position between Rashi’s extensive reliance on Midrash, and the relatively extreme rejection of Midrash by R. Yosef Kara and Rashbam (see M. Lockshin, “האם היה יוסף בכור שור פשטן?,” Iggud: Selected Essays in Jewish Studies Volume 1: The Bible and Its World, Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Law, and Jewish Thought (2005): 161-172). Scholars have discussed a number of distinguishing traits of Bekhor Shor's commentary: A tendency to focus on psychological issues within the Torah’s narrative (see Y. Nevo, "The Exegetical Method of R. Joseph Bekhor Shor” (Leiden, 1987): 40-46). Displays a marked interest in realia (see Y. Nevo, "קווי פרשנות אופייניים לר' יוסף בכור שור", Sinai 103 (1988): 56-58). Urbach (Ba’alei HaTosafot: 134) observes that Bekhor Shor’s commentary excels in its sensitivity to the Torah’s narrative style (see above, Occupation, regarding Bekhor Shor’s literary sense). Bekhor Shor is further distinct from other Northern French commentators in his efforts to avoid any anthropomorphism, to explain miracles in a naturalistic manner, to provide rationalistic reasons for the commandments, and to defend the actions of the Patriarchs against criticism (ibid.). It is striking that the first three of these tendencies are hallmarks of the approach of Rambam (who lived at roughly the same time as Bekhor Shor in Egypt) and other Sephardic medieval rationalist interpreters. Urbach (ibid: 134-135) theorizes that what led Bekhor Shor in this direction, more than any potential influence of Sephardic commentators, was his need to counter the claims of local Christian critics and Jewish heretics (some of whom apparently allegorized the Torah’s mitzvot). Accordingly, Bekhor Shor criticizes certain comments of Rashbam that play into the hands of those who allegorize the mitzvot. See Bekhor Shor to Devarim 10:9, and Urbach, ibid.:135. 18 Only fragments of this commentary have been preserved. They were published in: Z. Kahn, "Le Livere de Joseph le Zalateur", REJ 3 (1881): 5, and M. Liber, "Bibliographie", REJ 58 (1909): 309-311. See also the note above in Dates. 19 For a list of citations see Urbach, Ibid.: 132, note 2. 20 See See Urbach, ibid.: 132-139. 21 Four of Bekhor Shor’s selichot, and one “Akeidah” were published in A.M. Haberman "פיוטי ר' יוסף ב"ר יצחק מאורליינש", Tarbiz 9 (1938): 323-342. A piyyut with an acrostic spelling יוסף בכור שור is extant in manuscript. 23 For other editions, see Priel, R. Yosef: 116-117. 24 MS Munich 52 reads: "ומהר"ר אליעזר ממגנצא שמעתי". However, "מגנצא" may be a corruption of Beaugency, as the interpretation appears in the commentary of R. Eliezer of Beaugency on Yeshayahu 52:14 and Malakhi 1:14. 25 It is possible that also the citation in Shemot 1:22 of "וראיתי בדברי החכם צח" refers to him, as it is similar to the other citation. 26 Two of these might be later additions or הגהות (possibly by R"Y Bekhor himself – see discussion above): Bereshit 36:12 and Shemot 6:13. 27 The text of this case was deciphered incorrectly in numerous editions. 28 R. Yosef Bekhor Shor always refers to him as simply R. Ovadiah. However, in the parallel citations (which come from R"Y Bekhor Shor) in Sefer HaGan Bereshit 38:14 and Shemot 15:26, he is called R. Ovadiah HaSefaradi, and in Hadar Zekenim Shemot 15:26 he is referred to as R. Ovadiah b. R. Shemuel. 30 In addition to the citations by R"Y Bekhor Shor, he is also cited by Sefer HaGan Bereshit 38:14. [Posnanski, מבוא על חכמי צרפת מפרשי המקרא, p. LIX, n.2, casts some doubt on the authenticity of this citation.] 31 This gloss is reconstructed from Sefer HaGan and is signed: "מיסוד הרב בכור שור בשם ר' יצחק הגר".