2021 Annual Assessment

Jacob ben Meir Tam (1100-1171) of Ramereau, France, known as Rabbenu Tam (per the description of his Biblical namesake – tam = whole/straightforward), is not a familiar figure to all Jews. But he was one of the great personages who shaped Torah study and halachic thought over the past millennium. A grandson of Rashi and one of the greatest of the Tosafists, or Ashkenazic medieval commentators on the Talmud, Rabbenu Tam revived the Talmudic dialectic and interpreted the Talmud by raising and resolving contradictions within it. A new intellectual biography by Professor Avraham (Rami) Reiner, Rabbenu Tam: Interpretation, Halakha, Controversy (Bar-Ilan University Press) illuminates additional aspects of Rabbenu Tam’s legacy in the spheres of textual correction and the shaping of Halacha. This is the first attempt ever made at a complete intellectual portrait of the prominent Tosafist.