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Arba'ah Turim

From Academic Kids

Arba'ah Turim (ארבעה טורים, Hebrew: "Four rows"), also abbreviated as Tur, is an important work of Jewish law, composed by Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher ("Ba'al ha-Turim") of Spain (1270 -ca 1340). In the Tur, Ben Asher traces the practical Jewish law from the Torah text and the dicta of the Talmud through the Rishonim.

The Arba'ah Turim (literally: "four rows", as on the High Priest's breastplate):

Ben Asher used the code of Rabbi Isaac Alfasi as his starting point; these views are then compared to those of Maimonides, as well as to the French and German (Ashkenazi) traditions that were contained in the Tosafists literature.

In contradistinction to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Tur only deals with the areas of Jewish law that are applicable in the Jewish exile; the work also differs in that it is not limited to normative positions, but compares the various opinions on any disputed point. In most instances, Rabbi Jacob follows the opinion of his father Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel (the Rosh).

Commentaries on Arba'ah Turim include Bet Yosef by Rabbi Joseph Karo, Bayit Chadash by Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, Darkhei Moshe by Moses Isserles, and a number of other Acharonim. The influential work of halacha, Shulkhan Arukh is a condensation of Beth Joseph and follows the basic structure of the Arba'ah Turim, including its division in four sections and chapters.

The Tur continues to play an important role in Halakha. The organisation of the Shulkhan Arukh follows that of the Tur: subtopics are organised by sections (simanim) and laws (se'ifim) - this structure down to the siman is retained in the Shulkhan Arukh. Students of the Shulkan Aruch, particularly in Orthodox Semicha programs, will study the Tur and the Beth Joseph together with the Shulkhan Arukh itself.

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