Orach Chayim Index | Baal HaTurim Index


Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher - Posek and Codifier


Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher 1269-1340


A major halachic authority, was known as the 'Baal ha-Turim' after his influential magnum opus, the Arab'a Turim ("Four Columns"), which is one of the earliest systematic compilations of Jewish law and custom.


1) Orach Chayim (way of life) dealing with the duties of the Jew at home and in the synagogue, day by day, including Shabbat and Chagim.

2) Yoreh De'ah (teacher of knowledge), furnishing instruction in things forbidden and permitted, such as all phases of dietary laws.

3) Even ha-Ezer (stone of help) encompassing the laws of marriage and family matters.

4) Choshen Mishpat (breastplate of judgment), describing civil law and administration. The Biblical place name Even ha-Ezer is mentioned three times in the first book of Shmuel 4:1; 5:1; 7:12. Ezer (help) alludes to marriage in Bereishit 2:18. The name Choshen Mishpat is borrowed from Shemot 28:15.


Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher also wrote a commentary on the Torah, which shows his deep knowledge of the secrets of the Torah. His commentary, in abbreviated form, is generally printed together with most standard Chumashim, under the name of "Baal Haturim." It is a treasure chest of hidden meanings which he discovered in the letters and words of the holy text, through combinations, numerical additions, etc., showing the profound depth of the Torah. (Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts; Chabad)


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