Rashi and Daf Yomi coincidence?

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Dear Rabbi,

I have a question about Rashi’s (the commentator) birth and death dates, and you seemed the right person to ask 🙂
I just heard a shiur from Rabbi David Blackman from the JLC in Sydney, Australia who shared the following:
– Daf Yomi [the worldwide study of one folio page of Talmud per day] isondaf [folio] 29 of tractate Bava Batra [“the third gate”] and the Rashi commentary ends and the marginal note says he passed away. His commentary was then taken over by his grandson, Rashbam.
– based on his research, Rabbi Blackman believes Rashi was born on 29 Shevat 4800 [=1040ce] and this past Shabbos [25 February 2017] is his birth anniversary!
– his research for Rashi’s date of death came out with 2 opinions: 1 being 29 Shevat and another as 29 Tammuz 4865 [=1105ce]

Do you have any further clarification on these dates?
Also do you have any comments on the fact that 29 is the date his of birth and death, as well as the daf of his last commentary?

Many thanks,

Jason

Hi Jason

TY for your interesting observations.

The date of Rashi’s death is generally agreed to be 29 Tammuz (13 July) 1105, and so it was marked 12 years ago, the 900th anniversary of his passing. There is good documentary evidence for this, and as far as I know is not in dispute. It is interesting that Rashi’s birth is widely accepted as 29 Shevat 4800 (22 February 1040) although I am not sure as to the basis for (or veracity of) this date. It is actually fairly uncommon to know the exact date of birth (as opposed to death) of any medieval personalities, great rabbis included.

It is indeed interesting that the note in BB 29a indicates that Rashi did not finish his commentary to the tractate, which was instead completed (and in considerably more prolix fashion) by Rashbam.However the arrangement of the pages of the Talmud as we have them today came long after Rashi’s death. We owe the pagination to the first complete printing of the Talmud in Venice (1523). Still, it is an intriguing coincidence.

However, there is another tradition as to the point at which Rashi died. Rashi’s commentary to Makkot 19b (dealing with the subjectoftaharah, ritual purity) includes this touching interpolation: “Our Rabbi is pure and his soul left him in purity. He did not expound further. From this point onward are the comments of his disciple R. Yehudah b. R Nathan.” Berel Wein’s animated film Rashi: A light after the Dark Ages (now available for viewing at no cost here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSLKfzrIXM8) depicts this memorably.

Ofcourse the notes in the two tractates do not contradict one another, as Rashi could have been working on both tractates at the same time.

TY again for prompting me to look again at this fascinating subject.

Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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