Gershom of Mayyence

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Rashi (1040—1105)




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Prominent German Jewish leader and legal authority (960–1028), also known as Rabbenu (‘Our Master’) Gershom and as ‘Light of the Exile’. The great French commentator, Rashi, remarked that all French and German scholars are the disciples of Gershom's disciples.

There are a number of communal enactments attributed to Gershom, although some scholars believe that these were only fathered on him later. In any event each of these is known as the ‘the herem (ban) of Rabbenu Gershom’. One forbids a postman opening a letter to read its contents. But the two most famous of the bans are that on a man having more than one wife at the same time and that on divorcing a wife against her will. The latter was introduced to prevent a man who wished to take a second wife divorcing his first wife whether or not she agreed to the divorce. The ban of Rabbenu Gershom was only binding on Ashkenazi Jews since Gershom, as an Ashkenazi leader, had no power to impose his rulings upon Sephardi Jews.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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