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990 - 1053 HANANEL BEN HUSHIEL (Tunisia)

One of the last Geonim. He was actually born in Kairouan and remained there most of his life. He wrote the first complete commentary on the Talmud which is today embedded in the actual Talmud page. Hananel was also one of the first to rationalize the miracles of Agadah (Biblical legends). This is the part of the Oral Law which deals with stories, chronicles and sayings rather than laws. His writings and responsa served as a bridge between the Babylonian academies and North African Jewry.


Jewish leader and court appointee. He introduced brocaded silk into Spain and in gratitude was chosen as leader of the Jewish community and minister in charge of taxes by the chief chancellor (to the Umayyad Caliph Hisham II) al-Mansur ibn Abi Amir (aka Almanzor). During the war between the Umayyad’s of Cordova and the Idrissis’ of Maghreb, the Jews were caught in the middle, being heavily taxed and accused of treason by both sides. He later refused to extort money from his fellow Jews whose resources had diminished. As a result he was demoted and imprisoned for a year.

990 - 1064 JACOB BEN YAKAR (Germany)

Rabbi and co-founder of the great Yeshiva Academy of Worms, and the principal teacher of Rashi. Many of the Rabbinical leaders who came out of the academies in Mayence and Worms met their death in the First Crusade and little of their works have survived.

C. 990 - 1062 NISSIM BEN JACOB IBN SHAHIN (Kairouan, Tunisia)

Poet, and Halachic scholar aka Rabbenu Nissim. He was also very knowledgeable of philosophy and even Islamic religious literature. He served with Hanannel ben Hushiel and after his death, was appointed the head of the rabbinical academies. His Talmudic commentary Sefer Mafteach Manulei Hatalmud (The book of the Key to the Talmud) on some of the tractates is included on the main pages of many editions. In it he brings down sources for Mishnaic quotes and follows it methodology. and Megillat Setarim (Scroll of Secrets) which deals with questions regarding law, legends , Bible, Talmud, and religious customs. After his father in law lost his son, he composed (originally in Arabic) Hibur Yafe MehaYeshua (An Elegant Composition about Deliverance) comprised of stories from Talmudic, Gaonic, and foreign sources regarding bereavement.

990 - 1055 SAMUEL IBN NAGHRELA (Granada, Spain)

Known as Samuel ( HaLevi) Hanagid, he was a great diplomat, military adviser, scholar and poet as well as vizier to King Habus al-Muzaffar of Granada ( r.1019-1038). Ibn Naghrela’s poetic works include "Ben Tehillim" (Son of Psalms), "Ben Kohelet" (Son of Ecclesiastes), and "Ben Mishlei" (Son of Proverbs), He is also the author of a Biblical Hebrew dictionary written in Arabic. Samuel Hanagid did everything in his power to encourage Jewish learning including establishing a Yeshiva ( where Maimonides’ father would study) , and making copies of the Talmud available to students who couldn’t afford them.His son, Joseph, succeeded him for eleven years, until he was deposed during an attack on the Jews (see 1066).

992 TREVES (France)

The Bishop ordered the mass conversion of the Jewish population. Before the edict took effect, the Jews spent the day fasting and an effigy of the Bishop was burned. He died the same day and the decree was averted. The Christians attributed it to magic - the Jews to divine intervention.

992 LIMOGES (France)

A Jewish apostate named Sechog ben Ester planted a wax figure in the ark of the local synagogue and then accused the local Jews of using it to curse the local Lord by devil magic. Although they succeeded in deflecting the accusation, the idea that Jews were devil worshippers was gaining more acceptance in the Christian world. A brief account of the incident was published as Sefer Yeshuat Elohim (The Book of God's Salvation) which is one of the earliest Jewish historiographical (if not totally accurate) works.


His physician, a Jew, was falsely accused of killing him. This report of his murder was used as proof that Jews should not be appointed to important positions.

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