Biographies

What follows is a chronological list of Jewish sages. I think that having an idea of when and where a sage lived can help put his writings into context.

The focus in this list is on those who wrote commentaries on Chumash.

Did I leave someone out Please let me know in the comments or use the Contact form.

Rabbi Saadia Gaon (Egypt 882 – Babylonia 942)

He wrote many books, including a commentary on Chumash and HaEmunot and HaDayot.

Rabbeinu Chananel ( – Egypt 1055)

Besides his commentary on Chumash, he wrote on the Talmud.

Rashi – Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchaki (France 1040-1105)

He is famous for his commentaries on Tanach, Gemara, and Midrash.

Rashbam – Rabbi Shlomo ben Meir (France 1085-1174)

He was a grandson of Rashi. He wrote a commentary on Chumash and on the Talmud. He was a leading member of the Talmud commentators known as Tosafists.

Ibn Ezra – Rabbi Avrahan Ibn Ezra (Spain 1090-1164)

He wrote a commentary on Tanach and was a noted grammarian. He often disagrees with Rashi.

Rambam – Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon – Maimonides (Spain 1135 – Egypt 1204)

He wrote a commentary on the Mishnah and a compilation of all Jewish law called Mishneh Torah or Yad Hachazakah.

Rabbi Yosef ben Yitzchak Bechor Shor (France 1140 – )

He was one of the Tosafists and wrote a commentary on Chumash.

Radak – Rabbi David Kimchi (Provence 1160-1235)

He was a grammarian and Bible commentator. Only parts of his commentary on Tanach survived.

Ramban – Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman – Nachmanides (Spain 1195-1270)

He is known for his commentaries on Chumash (with many references to kabbalistic ideas) and the Talmud. He often disagrees with both Rashi and Ibn Ezra.

Rabbi Chizkiyah Chizkuni (France 1250-)

He wrote a commentary on Chumash.

Rosh – Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel (Germany 1250 – Spain 1327)

He was one of the Tosafists. He wrote a commentary on the Talmud and a halachic compendium based on the Talmud.

Rabbeinu Bachaya ben Asher (Spain 1263-1340)

He wrote a commentary on Chumash based on four levels of interpretation peshat, derash, remez, and sod.

Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher – Baal HaTurim – The Tur (Germany 1275 – Spain 1343)

One of the sons of the Rosh. He is most famous for his compendium of halacha known as the Arba Turim. He wrote two commentaries on the Chumash. He lengthy commentary often quotes and comments on the Ramban. His short commentary focuses on topics such as unusual word usages and gematria.

Rabbi Yosef Albo (Spain 1380 – 1440)

He is most famous for Sefer HaIkkarim (Book of Principles).

Rabbi Yitzchak Arama – Akeidat Yitzchak (Spain 1420-1494)

He wrote a commentary on Chumash called Akeidat Yitzchak which offers philosophical insights in the Torah.

Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel (Portugal 1437 –  Italy 1508)

He was a leader of the Jewish people during the expulsion from Spain in 1492. His commentary is on all of Tanach.

Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi (Turkey 1450-1525)

He was the chief rabbi of the Turkish Empire and wrote a supercommentary on Rashi’s commentary on Chumash.

Rabbi Avraham Bakrat (Spain, lived at the time of the expulsion)

He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi’s commentary on Chumash called Sefer HaZicharon

Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (Italy 1470-1550)

He wrote a commentary on Chumash focusing on the peshat of the verses.

Rabbi Yehuda Loew of Prague – Maharal (Prague 1525-1609)

He wrote many philosophical works. He wrote a supercommentary (Gur Aryeh) on Rashi’s commentary on Chumash. The Maharal defends Rashi against those who disagreed with his approach.

Kli Yakar – Rabbi Shlomo Efraim (Poland 1550 – Prague 1619)

His commentary on Chumash has been reprinted many times. He wrote in a readable and inspiring style. The Kli Yakar was a student of the Maharal.

Rabbi David ben Shmuel HaLevi – The Taz (Poland 1586-1667)

He is most famous for his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, called the Taz. His supercommentary on Rashi is called Divrei David.

Rabbi Shabbetai Bass – (Prague 1641-1718)

He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi. It is published either in an unabridged version called Siftei Chachamim or abridged version called Ikar Siftei Chachamim.

Rabbi David Samuel Pardo (Venice 1710 – Jerusalem 1790)

He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi called Maskil L’David.

Rabbi Meir Danon (Bosnia, early 19th century)

He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi called Be’er BaSadeh.

Rabbi Yitzchak Horowitz (Poland, died 1864)

He wrote a supercommentary on Rashi called Be’er Yitzchak.

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (Germany, 1785-1865)

In his sefer HaK’tav v’HaKabbalah, R. Mecklenburg shows how the Oral Tradition is derived from the Written Torah.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (Germany, 1808-1888)

He was an outspoken leader of the German Orthodox community. Many of his works, including his commentary on Chumash, have been translated into English.

Malbim – Rabbi Meir Leibus ben Yechiel Michel (1809-1879)

He wrote a commentary on Chumash to show the close relationship between the Written and Oral Torah.

Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin – The Netziv (Poland 1817 – 1893)

He was the head of the Volozhin yeshiva until it was closed by the Russian government in 1892. He wrote a commentary on Chumash called HaAmeik Davar.

Chafetz Chaim – Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen (Lithuania 1838 – 1933)

He is most famous for his halachic works Chafetz Chaim on forbidden speech and Mishnah Berura a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch.

Rabbi Yitzchak Zeev Soloveitchik – Griz HaLevi (Brisk 1886 – Jerusalem 1959)

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin (Lithuania 1881 – Israel 1966)

His commentary of the Chumash is called Oznaim L’Torah. Parts were translated into English and published as Insights in the Torah.

Rabbi Areyh Kaplan (United States 1934-1983)

He wrote many works of hashkafa, often aimed at teenagers. His translation of the Chumash into modern English is called The Living Torah.

 

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