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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.


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.


Ruled Egypt, Syria and parts of North Africa. The Mamluks 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 - 1329 (9 Cheshvan 5090) ASHER BEN JEHIEL "The ROSH" (Toledo, Spain)

Rabbinical leader and Talmudic scholar and student to Meir of Rothenberg. He was forced to flee Germany and settled in Toledo Spain in 1305 where he was attained prominence. Rabbenu Asher fought against secular education and the over-philosophizing of his day. His school attracted students from Europe and Russia. Rabbenu Asher was considered strict in his interpretation of Jewish law. His works included Piskei Ha Rosh (Decisions of the Rosh") , a commentary of the Mishna Zerayim and Tehorot, and his ethical Orchot Chayyim (" Way of Life"). He encouraged his pupil, Isaac ben Joseph, to write Yesod Olam (Foundation of the World), a scientific work on astronomy and the calendar.

C. 1250 - 1298 MORDECAI BEN HILLEL ( Germany)

Rabbi, Scholar and halachic authority. He is chiefly know for his Sefer Mordechai usually known as The Mordechai ,which analyzes and quotes from 350 different sources many of them only found in his work. This legal commentary is one of few quoted sources of the Code of Joseph Caro. He and his family were murdered in Nuremberg during the Rindfleish massacres.

1250 April 15, POPE INNOCENT IV

Issued a papal bull denying Jews in Cordova permission to build a synagogue. It also forbade them from living in the same house as Christians, from eating or drinking with Christians, or generally associating with Christians in any way.


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.

1252 ALFONSO X ( Castile Spain)

Began his rule which lasted until 1284. In general he was tolerant of both Islam and Judaism. In his famous Siete Partida ( Seven Divisions) he laid down the code of laws which would govern his rule. He used Moslem and Jewish scholars to translate books into Latin and Castilian. Alfonso established the post of El Rab or chief Rabbi, which was a political position. Often those who held it were known as what Solomon ben (Ibn) Aderet (1235) called "Illiterate crown Rabbis" especially in Castile. In these cases two learned men were ordered by the king to advise them whenever called.(Also see Alphonsine Tables 1272)rn

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.


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

1254 October 6, JAMES I OF ARAGON

In the aftermath of both the burning of the Talmud, and their expulsion from France that year, James confiscated all outstanding Jewish debts " for the salvation of our soul".

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.

C. 1255 - 1340 BAHYA BEN ASHER (aka RABBEINU BEHAYE) ( Spain)

Rabbi , scholar and biblical commentator. Famed for his Be'ur al ha-Torah, He was the first to build his commentary on the four methods of interpretation ( PaRDeS), " Peshat, plain text Remez, hints deeper allegoric meaning Drash, Haggadic and Midrashic meanings, and Sod, mystical Kabbalistic interpretation of the text.He also wrote Kad ha-Kemah "Flour Jar ". It consists of sixty chapters in religion and morality.

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.


Was appointed bailiff of Saragossa by James I. His job included collecting taxes and managing state officials. Judah helped the king raise funds for his war against the Moslems, and was eventually appointed bailiff of the province of Valencia. Less than 200 years later partly as a result of the Tortosa disputation (1414) many members of the family were baptized but retained their name. This created a great conflict within the family. By the time of the expulsion there were almost no members who remained Jewish.

1258 Thomas de Cantimpre' (France)

In his popular book Bonum universal de Apibus, he explained that Jewish men are inflicted with a secret malady…. They believe that relief can only be obtained through Christian blood. Therefore, they instituted a custom of annually shedding Christian blood….

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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