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Rishonim & Acharonim || רִאשׁוֹנִים, אַחֲרוֹנִים || Rabbinical Eras

The Rishonim

  • The period of the Rishonim begins with the death of Rav Hai Gaon and exrended (roughly) from 11th century to the 15th century;
  • the centers of the rishonim were Spain, Germany ,France, Italy and North Africa;
  • they differed from the Gaonim in their widespread location and the scope of their writings; and
  • רמב''ם wrote the משנה תורה- first codification of Judiac Law.

The Achronim

  • The period of the Achronim essentially begins with Rav Yosef Karo’s שלחן ערוך with the positions of Rav Moshe Isserlies at around 1500’s;
  • Rav Yosef Karo used the opinions of רמב''ם, רי''ף (Issac Alfasi), and רא''ש (Rav Asher ben Yechiel) to formulate a code of Jewish law by going with the majority without quoting sources;
  • Rav Moshe Isserlies added to the work by citing Ashkenazic tradition and Halachic authorities, calling it the מפה (table cloth) to the שלחן ערוך;
  • the שלחן ערוך with the מפה has become the primary codification of Jewish law.
  • There are a number of commentaries on the שלחן ערוך that either support or differ from its conclusions.
Contemporary Responsa
  • After codification there is still a need for guidance of halachic authorities who are G-d fearing, educated, and trained  to decide questions that are not spelled out explicitly by the שלחן ערוך or completely new situations.