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1250 - 1329 (9 Cheshvan 5090) ASHER BEN JEHIEL (Toledo, Spain)

A German refugee and great talmudic commentator, known as Rabbenu Asher or the "Rosh". He fought against the over-philosophizing of his day. His school attracted students from Europe and Russia. His works included Diskei Rosh, discussions, over 1000 responsa, a commentary of the Mishna Zerayim and Tehorot, and notes on some talmudic tractates. He encouraged his pupil, Isaac ben Joseph, to write Yesod Olam (Foundation of the World), a scientific work on astronomy and the calendar.


1250 - 1517 MAMELUKE

Ruled Egypt, Syria and parts of North Africa. The Mamelukes were former slaves who had been bought by the sultans to serve in their armies. After their revolt, they set up a military feudal aristocracy, bringing a fanatical Moslem rule to areas under their control - and antipathy to Christians and Jews.


1250 MOSES BEN JACOB OF COUCY (the Semag)

Published his Sefer Hamitzvot Hagadol (The Large Book of Precepts), which classified the law according to the six hundred and thirteen commandments, dividing them into two hundred and sixty-five prohibitions and two hundred and forty-eight precepts. The Semaq was admittedly influenced by Maimonides, whom he quotes quite often. His son-in-law, Isaac ben Joseph of Borbeil, continued his work.


C. 1250 YIDDISH

The earliest use of what became know as Old Yiddish in South East Germany. Yiddish is based on German but also Hebrew and even Slavic words (depending on the region). The script is written in Hebrew with German prefixes and suffixes. Yiddish was used for almost 1000 years as the main Jewish language of communication, especially within Eastern Europe. Prior to the Holocaust an estimated 11 million people spoke Yiddish.


C. 1250 - 1330 YOM TOV BEN ABRAHAM ISBILI (Ritva)

Talmudist and leader of the Spanish community. His Novellae on the Talmud, Chidushei Ha-Ritva, are still being reprinted and used by Talmud students today.


1251 LEGAL STATUS OF JEWS DEFINED (Hungary)

Like most countries at the time, it protected the Jews as belonging to the king but allowed them to be singled out for harassment. This led to the initiative of the Church Council of Buda (1279) which required Jews to wear a badge and prohibited them from leasing land. King Bela IV was against the order and for the most part ignored it.


1253 January 31, HENRY III (England)

Ordered Jewish worship in Synagogues be held quietly so that Christians should not have to hear it when passing by. In addition, he forbade Jews from employing Christian nurses or maids, and prevented other Jews from converting to Christianity.


1254 FRANCE

Louis IX expelled the Jews from France. This signaled the end of the Tosafists period. Most left for Germany and then further east.


1255 HENRY III (England)

Seeing himself as the "master of the Jews", Henry transferred his rights to the Jews for one year to his brother, Richard, in exchange for five thousand marks.


1255 August 29, LITTLE SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN (England)

An infamous ritual murder libel. It was alleged that Jews enticed the boy and while starving him, invited Jews to Lincoln to murder him ritually. (Jews did come to Lincoln at that time to attend a wedding.) His body was cast into a well and a month later "miracles" followed the discovery of his corpse. On the basis of the alleged "confession" by Jopin (Jacob), the secular authorities (for the first time) and the Church sent 91 Jews to the Tower of London. 18 were executed before Richard and the friars stopped the killings. This incident later provided Chaucer with the idea for his Prioress Tale (1387) and the hero of the popular ballad, "Little Sir Hugh". His birthday (August 27) was celebrated until the Reformation.


1257 BADGE OF SHAME (Italy)

Although first proscribed in the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the badge of shame was imposed locally and infrequently in Italy until the Bull of Pope Alexander IV enforced it on all papal states. Over the years different variations were initiated both in color and in the actual apparel.


1258 February 10, - 1335 Il-khan (Mongol) Dynasty PERSIA

With the fall of Baghdad to the grandson of Genghis Khan, the Mongol dynasty replaced the Abbasids in Persia. The Mongols were for the most part tolerant of Judaism. An Arab writer reported that there were 36,000 Jews and 16 Synagogues in the city on the eve of the Mongolian invasion. Most of the city was destroyed during the siege. It is during this period that Judeo-Persian literature flourished, specifically the poetry of Shahin whose most famous work was Sefer Sharh Shain al Hatorah.



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