Rashi's daughters

Rashi's daughters were the three daughters and only children of the medieval Talmudic scholar, Rashi and his wife Rivka. Their three daughters were Yocheved, Miriam and Rachel (11th–12th century). They each married their father's finest students and were the mothers of the leaders of the next generation of French Talmudic scholars. Almost every Ashkenazi rabbinic dynasty traces its ancestry back to either Yocheved or Miriam, and the majority of the tosafists, were recent descendants of Rashi's daughters. All born in Troyes, France, their descendants inhabited Germany, France, and Italy in the early 11th to 15th centuries, with the majority later moving to Eastern Europe, where they established several notable rabbinic dynasties.[1]

Yocheved and familyEdit

Yocheved bat Shlomo Yitzchaki (Hebrew: יוכבד בת שלמה יצחקי) was born between 1058 and 1062 in Troyes, and died in 1135 in Ramerupt. She married Meir ben Samuel, son of Samuel of Vives and Miriam. He was born around 1060 in Ramerupt, where he died in 1135, a few months after her.

They had four sons: Isaac ben Meir, Samuel ben Meir, Solomon ben Meir, and Jacob ben Meir. Despite the modern Ashkenazi naming custom, Yocheved's son Solomon was born during her father's lifetime. Yocheved and Meir had at least two daughters who married Rashi's students: Hannah, a teacher of laws and customs relevant to women, married Samuel ben Simcha. Their son, Isaac of Dampierre, became the leading Talmudic scholar of his generation. Another daughter, whose name is unknown, married Samson ben Joseph.[2]

Yocheved's name appears in MS de Rossi 181.[3]

Miriam and familyEdit

Miriam bat Shlomo Yitzchaki (Hebrew: מרים בת שלמה יצחקי) was born between 1058 and 1062 and died after 1090. She married Judah ben Nathan son of Nathan of Paris and Alvina. He was born around 1065 in Mainz and died around 1105 in Paris.

They had a one known daughter, Alvina, a learned woman whose customs served as an example for other Jewish women. They also had three sons: Yom Tov ben Judah, Samson ben Judah and Eliezer ben Judah. Yom Tov later moved to Paris and headed a yeshiva there, along with his brothers.[4]

Rachel and another daughterEdit

Rachel bat Shlomo Yitzchaki (Hebrew: רחל בת שלמה יצחקי) was born in Troyes around 1070. She married Rabbi Eliezer. They had no children.

Almost nothing is known about Rachel except for a letter that Rabbenu Tam wrote to his cousin, Yom Tov, in which he mentioned that their aunt Rachel was divorced from her husband, Eliezer.[5] One of Rashi's responsa[6] discusses the case of his young daughter losing a valuable ring at a time when Yocheved and Miriam were adults, so there was clearly another daughter much younger than her older sisters. In addition, Rashi is mentioned as having a grandson, Shemiah, and a granddaughter, Miriam, whose mother was neither Yocheved nor Miriam. Judy Chicago, in her compendium of significant women in history,[7] lists Rachel (b. 1070), daughter of Rashi, as a learned woman who acted as his secretary and took his dictation when he was infirm.

Some scholars, based on a responsum that details how Rashi mourned for a little girl during a Jewish festival even though such mourning is prohibited, have postulated that he was mourning the death of his own young daughter, who would have been younger than Rachel.[8]

Rashi's family circleEdit


There are a couple of legends about Rashi's daughters, all suggesting that they possessed unusual piety and scholarship.[9]

The best-known, and most likely to be true, states that they were learned in Torah and Talmud at a time when women were forbidden to study Talmud.[10] While it seems impossible for girls with a yeshiva in their home to grow up without knowledge of Torah, there is more evidence than this. A responsum of Rashi notes that he is too weak to write so he is dictating to his daughter, which indicates that she was capable of understanding and writing complicated legal issues in Hebrew. There are two versions of this responsa, the other stating that Rashi was dictating to the "son of my daughter" instead of just "my daughter." However, it seems unlikely that Rashi would use the awkward expression, "son of my daughter" instead of, "my grandson," and more likely that "son of" was added in later. There is also evidence that Rashi's daughters and granddaughters taught Torah to local women and served as models for the proper performance of Jewish rituals.[11]

While there is no evidence that Rashi's daughters themselves wore tefillin, it is known that some women in medieval France and Germany did,[12] and that Rabbenu Tam, Rashi's grandson, ruled that a woman doing any mitzvah that she is not obligated to, including tefillin, must make the appropriate blessing.[13]


  1. ^ Shereshevsky, Ezra (1982). Rashi - the Man and His World. Sepher-Hermon.
  2. ^ Ta-Shma, Israel (1996). Halakhah minhag u-meziut b-Ashekenaz, 1000-1350. Jerusalem.
  3. ^ פרוש התורה הפטרות ומגלות לרש”י : על תורה, ה' מגלות וספרי אמ”ת Cod. Parm. 3204 [The Torah Commentary on Haftarot and Exile to the Rashi: On Torah, Eighth Exile and Sefer Amot Cod. Parm. 3204] (in Hebrew).
  4. ^ Gross, Henri (1969). Gallia Judaica - Dictionnaire Geographique de la France d’Apres les Sources Rabbiniques. Philo Press.
  5. ^ Rosenthal, Shraga (1897). Sefer HaYashar le Rabbenu Tam. Berlin.
  6. ^ Elfenbein, Israel (1943). Teshuvot Rashi. New York: Shulsinger Bros. pp. 255–256.
  7. ^ Chicago, Judy (2007). The Dinner Party. New York: Merrell.
  8. ^ Wieseltier, Leon (1998). Kaddish. New York: Knopf.
  9. ^ Zolty, Shoshana (1993). And All Your Children Shall Be Learned - Women and the Study of Torah in Jewish Law and History. New York: Aronson.
  10. ^ Taitz, Emily; Sondra Henry (1978). Written Out of History. New York: Bloch. p. 88.
  11. ^ Agus, Irving (1965). Urban Civilization in Pre-Crusade Europe. New York: Yeshiva Univ.
  12. ^ Baumgarten, Elisheva (2004). Mothers and Children - Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe. Princeton.
  13. ^ Grossman, Avraham (2004). Pious and Rebellious - Jewish Women in Medieval Europe. Brandeis University.

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