Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (1269- 12 Tammuz 1343) was one of the foundation builders of all of Jewish law as we have it today! He was the son of Rabbeinu Asher – known as the Rosh (“the Head” – an acronym for Rabbeinu ASher). The Rosh was one of the three pillars upon whom Rabbi Yosef Karo – the author of the Shulchan Aruch – would base his magnum opus. It is indeed the Shulchan Aruch which determines the majority of Jewish law today! Those wishing to become Rabbis must pass examinations showing competency in certain sections of his work. Ideally – a true Rav should be competent in the entire Shulchan Aruch! If that can be said of the Shulchan Aruch, then let us not treat lightly the words of the Chida – Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai, who said that without a proper study of the Tur and its commentaries, one cannot begin to determine Halachah!
Rabbi Yaakov divided his work into four sections of Jewish law. These include daily living and festivals, ritual law (kashrut, interest on loans, ritual impurity for women at the time of their menses etc.), marriage and divorce, and business law (as a summary). His name “the Tur” translates as “the Row / Column” because he divided his work into four “rows”. These rows correspond to the four rows of jewels that were a part of the High Priest’s Breastplate. It is one of the most exciting works of Jewish law to study, as can be seen by the major commentaries who debate and discuss its points! While Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote a full commentary on the Tur – known as the Beit Yosef, he would take the most essential points to establish the final Halachah – Jewish law – as codified in his Shulchan Aruch (Laid Table.)
The world of Jewish law continues until this day! There are constant debates and discussions with the greatest of Jewish minds making decisions on a daily basis as to how we are required to fulfill Torah law in today’s times!
A full set of the Arba’ah Turim today costs roughly ₪2000. The full set contains 23 volumes! It is a most worthwhile set of works to study! If you are interested in learning it together with us online – please be in touch!
For more information about the Tur and other major works in Jewish law – referencing to the Tur see:
- The Tur on Wikipedia
- Rabbi Yoel Sirkis – Bayit Chadash
- Rabbi Yosef Karo
- Rabbi Dovid HaLevy Segal – the Taz