Rashi, Tosafot, and Hazal’s Knowledge of Tanakh


The Jerusalem Talmud[i] records the tradition that the Tannaitic sage Shmuel could recall the midwife who delivered him. R. Yehoshua ben Levi stated that he could remember his mohel. R. Yohanan claimed he could even remember the women who happened to be in the room when his mother gave birth to him.

The incredible memory displayed by many of the Talmudic sages is manifested, of course, in their teaching and studying. Page after page of Talmud displays the incredible mastery of the sages for the whole of the Torah and tradition. A midrash records[ii] that R. Yohanan ben Zakkai’s oral recitation of his learning was so practiced that just based on where he was up to in his recitation, he could tell what time of day it was without looking outside for three days straight. In another Talmudic passage,[iii] R. Yohanan himself viewed negatively anyone who recited Tanakh and the Mishnah without a melody meant for easy memorization. He believed Tanakh needed a melody, as it was something to be memorized, a feat which many rabbis appear to have accomplished. For example, the Talmud[iv] records that R. Meir was once in a town for Purim where there was no scroll of Esther to read from, so he proceeded to write it out completely from memory to read on Purim. Another passage in the Jerusalem Talmud[v] states that Rabbi Yehudah praised the generation that R. Yishmael b. R. Yose lived in, for he could write all of Tanakh by heart.

This amazing command of Torah knowledge is why, among other reasons, Orthodox Jews today hold the rabbis of the Talmud in such high esteem. The suggestion that those rabbis could be mistaken in their studies is a last resort, and in some communities, an act of heresy. It thus comes as a shock to many a religious reader of the Talmud that Tosafot[vi] would declare that, “Sometimes, they [the rabbis of the Talmud] were not proficient in knowledge of verses [of Tanakh].”

Tosafot say this in order to explain a strange exchange in the Talmud, where Rabah bar R. Shilah and R. Nahman bar Yitzhak seem not to be aware that the same word appears in two different verses. To Tosafot, this is not difficult to understand, as it is but evidence of their lack of knowledge in Tanakh. They point to another Talmudic passage that is seemingly much more explicit in this regard. In Bava Kamma 55a, we find:

R. Hanina b. Agil asked R. Hiyya b. Abba: Why in the first Decalogue is there no mention of tov [Rashi: “so that it shall be good (tov) for you”], whereas in the second Decalogue there is a mention of tov [Deuteronomy 22:7]?

He replied: Before you ask me why tov is mentioned there, ask me whether tov is in fact mentioned there or not, as I do not know whether tov is mentioned there or not. Go therefore to R. Tanhum b. Hanilai who was close to R. Yehoshua b. Levi, who was an expert in Aggadah…[vii]


R. Hiyya bar Abba seems to be saying he had no idea that there was a difference between the first and second Decalogue. Tosafot apparently interpret this passage literally, that a major difference between the first version of the Ten Commandments in Exodus, and the second version in Deuteronomy, was unfamiliar to R. Hiyya bar Abba.[viii]

Though Tosafot do not have a problem providing this answer for the exchange in Bava Batra, they conclude approvingly with the interpretation of a fellow Tosafot, R. Samuel ben Meir, known as Rashbam, who finds a way to read the Talmudic passage so that it need not rely on the conclusion that rabbis of the Talmud did not know Tanakh well enough. However, the Tosafist Rabbeinu Asher in his Tosafot ha-Rosh (ad loc.), rejects Rashbam’s approach entirely, writing that Rashbam “needlessly struggled” to resolve the apparent difficulty, and that the simpler answer is that “there are many times that the Amoraim did not remember verses.”[ix] In fact, the Rosh points to yet another passage in the Talmud,[x] which seems to indicate that R. Sheshet was unaware that the source of the law that a sherets (insects, rodents) is ritually impure is an explicit verse in the Torah.[xi]

There are a few more passages to add to this position, which Tosafot do not quote. The Talmud[xii] states:

Rebbi once opened his storehouse [of foodstuffs] in a year of scarcity, proclaiming: Let those enter who have studied the Tanakh, or the Mishnah, or the Gemara, or the Halakhah, or the Aggadah; there is no admission, however, for the ignorant.

The fact that there is a stated difference between those who know Tanakh and those who know Talmud leads R. Samuel Strashun, known as Rashash (ad loc.) to state:

Implying it was possible for there to be someone who knew Mishnah or Talmud, but not Tanakh…This [attitude] is unlike those who heap scorn on contemporary rabbinic leaders who are expert in Talmud and halakhic decisions but not Tanakh.

It would seem that Rashash felt the need to use this concept to defend great rabbis against the Maskilim of the 1800s who were deriding them for not knowing Tanakh.[xiii]

R. Yannai, in one well-known midrash[xiv] seems to declare that he never knew a certain verse in Psalms:

R. Yannai was sitting and interpreting next to his window. He heard an announcement: “Who wants to buy the elixir of life?” [R. Yannai pressed the peddler to reveal what he was selling.] He took out a book of Psalms and showed him the verse, “Who is the man who wants life?… Guard your tongue from evil…!”[xv] Said R. Yannai: Even Solomon announced and said, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from distress.”[xvi] R. Yannai said, “All my life I read this verse and did not understand its interpretation, until this peddler came and taught me, “Who is the man who wants life.”

The commentators to Leviticus Rabbah invariably question what R. Yannai learned from the peddler, who had simply quoted a verse to him.[xvii] If the Tosafists are correct, one could assume that R. Yannai truly never knew of the verse in Psalms. However, it could be that he simply never considered its explanation. We have other passages in the Talmud that reflect this lack of knowledge. The Talmud[xviii] records an interesting story:

Abahu praised R. Safra to the heretics as a learned man, and he was thus exempted by them from paying taxes for thirteen years. One day, happening upon him, they said to him, “It is written, ‘I have only known you of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.’[xix] If one is angry does one vent it on one’s friend?”

But he was silent and could not give them an answer, so they wound a scarf round his neck and tortured him. When R. Abahu came and found him [in that state] he said to them, “Why do you torture him?” They responded, “Didn’t you tell us that he is a great man? He cannot explain to us the meaning of this verse!”

He responded, “I may have told you [that he was learned] in Tannaitic teaching; did I tell you [he was learned] in Scripture?” They asked, “How is it then that you know it?” He replied, “We who are frequently with you, set ourselves the task of studying it thoroughly, but others do not study it as carefully.”


R. Abahu claimed that rabbis of his time only studied Scripture well to be able to answer heretics.[xx] Apparently, rabbis were sometimes asked questions about Scripture, and it was not necessarily assumed they would know the answer. Another Talmudic passage states[xxi]:

Zutra b. Tovia was [once] expounding a Scriptural lesson in the presence of R. Yehudah. Coming to the verse, “And these are the last words of David,”[xxii] he said to R. Yehudah, “‘Last words’ - implying that there were former words. What were those former [words]?” He [R. Yehudah] kept silent, without saying anything. Again he said: “Last words! This implies there were former words. What were those former [words]?” He [then] replied, “What, do you think that one who does not know an explanation of that text is not an eminent man?”

Lastly, the Talmud states[xxiii] that R. Kahane declared that he had lived for eighteen years and never knew (until that moment) that Scripture always has a plain understanding, “ein mikra yotsei mi-yedei peshuto.” This leads the venerable R. Moses Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer, to write,[xxiv] “We see from this that Hazal did the opposite [of the expected educational plan], teaching their sons only Talmud, and Scripture only according to their derashot, without teaching them the peshat at all.”[xxv]

Thus, we see several cases where absolute facility in verses was not present or not required.[xxvi] The great R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes, in his Mavo Ha-Talmud,[xxvii] also freely admits to this contention. Even more recently, R. Joseph Messas[xxviii] engages in no apologetics when it comes to this topic. In one letter,[xxix] he responds to someone who expressed surprise that he would say that the rabbis of the Talmud could forget or not know verses from Tanakh. “Do not be surprised, my friend, for we find this in Bava Kama [55a]… And there is also Bava Batra 113a…”[xxx]

Tosafot’s position may be related to their understanding of the Talmudic statement which appears in three places[xxxi] that one must divide one’s learning into thirds—one third for Tanakh, one third for Mishnah, and one third for Talmud. R. Tam is quoted in Tosafot in both places that since the Talmud[xxxii] states that the Babylonian Talmud is totally assorted and mixed with all three elements, learning the Babylonian Talmud fulfills this law.[xxxiii]

R. Tam and the other Tosafists of his time would have seen precedent for their own educational curriculum in the educational curriculum of some of the sages of the Talmud. Since, in their interpretation, some of the rabbis of the Talmud were not experts in Tanakh, they would have concluded that they had license to follow in the footsteps of their religious forebears. R. Tam and the other Tosafists would not have seen it too shocking to suggest this lack of knowledge, nor viewed it as an insult to those rabbis, since their own knowledge of Tanakh was deficient as well.[xxxiv] There are many indications that, for the most part, the Tosafists post-Crusades did not have any formal Tanakh study in their academies.[xxxv] For example, R. Joseph Kimhi[xxxvi] charged R. Tam with disregarding the study of Tanakh. Rabbeinu Tam himself is quoted as saying that he had neither the strength nor ability to write a commentary on Tanakh like his grandfather Rashi did.[xxxvii] In his ethical will, another Tosafist, R. Yehudah b. ha-Rosh, urges his children to learn Tanakh, as he laments that did not have a chance when he studied in his youth in the academies in Ashkenaz.[xxxviii]

Tosafot generally linked their learning abilities and curriculum to the Talmudic sages. The Talmud[xxxix] quotes R. Ashi who states that the power of memory in his time was bad, comparing it to sticking one’s finger into a tar pit which returns to its form after the finger is removed. Tosafot lament that:[xl] “So it is for us, that once we finish one tractate and start another, we immediately forget the first.”

Rashi, I contend, disagreed with the idea that one need not study Tanakh. It is clear that Rashi emphasized the value of knowing Tanakh, as we see in his quoting of an additional homiletic interpretation to Exodus 31:18:

Just as a bride is adorned with twenty-four ornaments, those mentioned in the book of Isaiah (3:18-22), so, too, a Torah scholar must be expert in the twenty-four books [of Tanakh].[xli]

However, Rashi placed limits on how much priority Tanakh should take in one’s learning schedule for two reasons, which I will proceed to show. Firstly, he understood there was a paramount importance to memorization of halakhic teachings and principles in a time where they could be forgotten. True, one cannot ignore the fact that the rabbis of the Talmud were not all complete experts in Tanakh, but they had an “excuse.” They had a bigger priority—the commitment of the Oral Law to memory. That priority, however, would not apply in Rashi’s time. Secondly, one had to place adequate importance on knowing Jewish law, in order to teach those who did not have the capability of deciding the law. This priority indeed would apply in Rashi’s time. Though those priorities came at the expense of studying Tanakh, to Rashi, they did not override it.[xlii]

One can see the importance of memorization of the Talmud from Rashi’s interpretation of the discussion of the Talmud regarding which among Tanakh, Mishnah, and Talmud, is the most valuable to study. The Talmud states:[xliii]

Our Rabbis taught: They who occupy themselves with the Tanakh [alone] are somewhat meritorious; with Mishnah, are indeed meritorious, and are rewarded for it; with Gemara, there can be nothing more meritorious; yet run always to the Mishnah more than to the Gemara.

Now, this is self-contradictory. You say, “with Gemara, there can be nothing more meritorious,” and then you say, “Yet run always to the Mishnah more than to the Gemara!” Said R. Yohanan: This teaching was taught in the days of Rabbi, when everyone abandoned the Mishnah and went to the Gemara. Hence, he subsequently taught them, “Yet run always to the Mishnah more than to the Gemara.”

The Talmud thus concludes that the Talmud is more meritorious to study than Mishnah and Tanakh. Rashi provides an explanation that Mishnah and Talmud are valued higher than Tanakh because Mishnah and Talmud were not available in writing like Tanakh is, and therefore they were at risk of being forgotten:

That the [learning of] the Mishnah and the Talmud is better than [Tanakh] because they rely on memorization, and it was being forgotten in their days. The Talmud was not in writing, nor was it allowed to be written, and it was only because of the narrowing of the hearts [and people were forgetting] that the later generations began to write it down.

Rashi apparently believed that at the time this statement was made, the success of Jewish education relied on the study of Talmud as a priority. We find this in other areas as well. The Talmud states[xliv] that the Mishnah gives preeminence to lenient positions above more stringent standards; “the power of the lenient position is better.” According to Rashi, those who maintain a learning tradition were “better,” for a person who relied on precedent and teachings of his teachers would not be afraid to be lenient in certain cases. It would make sense that in times when those traditions could be forgotten, Rashi would see Talmud memorization was paramount. Indeed, elsewhere Rashi criticizes those who spend too much time in pilpul and not enough memorization of the law.[xlv]

Rashi provides another reason why one should not study too much Tanakh, which is that one must know Torah law, either as a layman to know what to do, or a rabbi to teach it. For example, the Mishnah[xlvi] states that certain books of Tanakh should not be read on the Sabbath “because of neglect of the Bet Midrash.” Rashi[xlvii] interprets this to mean that since the rabbi of the congregation is set to deliver a discourse on the Sabbath to the people who work all week, which will teach them Jewish law, it is “better for them to hear that than to learn Ketuvim.” We find this concept again in Rashi’s commentary to Ecclesiastes,[xlviii] where he writes[xlix] that though Tanakh, Mishnah, and Talmud are all equally the special inheritance of the Jewish people,

if he is king [i.e. expert] in Tanakh and in Mishnah, he must still be subservient to the Talmud-learner, because he arranges before him the practical decisions of prohibition and permissibility, uncleanness and cleanness, and laws of jurisprudence… He who has Tanakh and Mishnah, but no Talmud, what benefit does he have?

Thus, Rashi sees Talmud knowledge as necessary for deciding law,[l] and teaching it to the layman who only knows Tanakh, or Mishnah. There is another comment of Rashi related to this. The Talmud states[li] that a person should keep his children away from “higayyon.” Rashi writes that this may refer to learning more than the proper amount of Tanakh, which can be deleterious by “drawing one away” from other studies. This seems to be the same concerns as we have seen before. If one studies Tanakh too much, one may neglect the necessary memorization of the Oral Law, as well as the knowledge necessary in order to decide the law.

Let us review in broad strokes what we have claimed so far. The Tosafists, especially in the time of Rabbeinu Tam, focused on Talmud study at the expense of Tanakh study, even so far as to interpret the great sages of the Talmud as being deficient in their own knowledge of Tanakh. However, Rashi did not allow the Talmudic “excuse” from exempting one from studying Tanakh, especially since the Talmud was now already written. A distinction between Rashi and other scholars was already noticed in the late 14th century by Profiat Duran (Efodi),

In this period, I note that Jewish scholars, even the greatest among them, show great disdain for biblical studies. It is enough for them to read the weekly portion [shenayim mikra ve-ehad Targum] and still it is possible that if you ask them about a particular verse, they will not know where it is. They consider one who spends time doing biblical studies a fool; the Talmud is our mainstay. This disease is rampant in France and Germany in our generation, as it was in the preceding period. But in earlier generations it was not so. We see the glory of the Talmudists uplifted by … the great Rashi who delved into the meaning of Scripture and wrote beautiful commentaries on it, including wonderful formulations about grammar and syntax.[lii]

Let us conclude with the words of the Rav, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who argued in a 1955 letter to Dr. Samuel Belkin that rabbinical ordination at RIETS should include classes in Tanakh, especially on the Pentateuch.

A thorough knowledge of the Pentateuch with its two basic commentaries is a must. The candidate for rabbinical degree ought to know not only the intricate laws of migo, but also the five books of Moses. The teaching of the Pentateuch must pursue a two-fold purpose. First, the knowledge of the halakhic components of the Humash… Second, the profound understanding of the Biblical narratives not only as historical records of a distant past but also as parts of the great historical drama of our people and as archetypes of the Jewish paradoxical destiny charged with powerful ethical motifs.[liii]

This is the 60th year that his advice has gone unheeded.

[i] Ketubot 5:6

[ii] Lamentations Rabbah 1:31

[iii] Megillah 32b

[iv] Megillah 18b, cf. Yerushalmi Megillah 4:1

[v] Megillah 4:1

[vi] Bava Batra 113a, s.v. “tarvayhu,” and Tosafot Yeshanim ad loc. as well.

[vii] All translations of the Talmud are from the Soncino Talmud, with some minor modifications

[viii] There are many alternative interpretations of this passage. As some point out, R. Hiyya was clearly a very learned individual, who would review his learning every 30 days (Berachot 38b), and when asked a number question in Tanakh, he had an immediate answer (Bava Batra 123a). Additionally, in one tradition (Ketubot 8b), his actual title was a teacher of Tanakh. For some of the more interesting explanations, however, see Pnei Yehoshua ad loc., and see R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes ad loc. (and a very similar answer to his first suggestion can be found in R. Elijah of Vilna (Gr”a), Bi’ur Aggadot Bava Kama ad loc.). See also Meshekh Hokhma, Deuteronomy 6:3, especially with R. Kuperman’s footnotes ad loc, as well as R. Baruch Epstein, Torah Temimah Deuteronomy 5, no. 12. For more recent and creative answers, see R. Reuven Margulies, Ha-Mikra Ve-Hamesora, ch. 1, and R. Yaakov Kamenetsky’s Emet Li-Yaakov al Ha-Torah, Deuteronomy 5:12.
A particularly creative answer was proposed by Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Biberfeld (a musmakh of Rabbi Yehiel Yaakov Weinberg) in the journal, HaNe’eman (Vol. 12 No. 17 Tishrei 5720). R. Biberfeld suggests that Rabbi Hanina’s question is an entirely different one. The Baal ha-Turim on Deuteronomy 5:16 points out that there are seventeen more letters in the second version than in the first, the gematria of “tov“. Thus, R. Biberfeld suggests that R. Hanina was asking why there is a 17 letter difference specifically between the version in Deuteronomy and the version in Exodus. R. Hiyya might have been a learned person, but he did not know offhand that it was exactly seventeen letters, much less considered why, so he sent R. Hanina to R. Tanhum.

It seems to me that the interpretation of the Iyun Yaakov to Ein Yaakov ad loc. is most correct. “Come and learn,” he writes, how the sages would not put on airs if they did not know a subject. What R. Hiyya was doing was simply exaggerating to show his lack of knowledge of aggadah (for aggadah was a separate discipline than halakhah). That is, he was saying, “So much is this topic not in my area of expertise that you could even say I did not even know the difference in the first place.” I would add that denial of an entire matter as an exaggeration occurs elsewhere in the Talmud, see Bava Batra 54b, Rashbam, s.v. “amar lei ana lo yadana”.

[ix] The Rosh specifies, as opposed to the Tosafot quoted above, that Amoraim did not recall verses well. However, the examples I will bring also include the times of the Tannaim. And there does not seem to be different curriculum regarding Tanakh between the time of the Tannaim and the time of the Amoraim, who both seem to have had had set curriculum to study sections of Tanakh. See, for example, Yoma 87a-b, Shabbat 116b, Shabbat 152a, Bava Batra 164b, Avodah Zarah 19a, and Yerushalmi Shabbat 16:1.

[x] Bava Batra 9b

[xi] However, see Ramban ad loc. who declares it impossible for R. Sheshet to be ignorant of such a law in the Torah, and therefore reinterprets the exchange.

[xii] Bava Batra 8a

[xiii] However, Rashash contradicts himself elsewhere, see Rashash to Rosh Hashanah 26a s.v. “levi ikla”, where he assumes it impossible that the Talmudic sage Levi would not know a verse. It may be that Rashash assumes that since Levi was known as a Bible scholar (Midrash Tanhuma 96:5) and was appointed based partly on his ability to interpret the Bible (Yerushalmi Yevamot 12:6, Yevamot 105a, Genesis Rabbah 81:2), his apparent lack of knowledge in this case is particularly difficult to accept.

[xiv] Leviticus Rabbah 16:2

[xv] Psalms 34:13-14

[xvi] Proverbs 21:23

[xvii] See the comments of Perush Maharzav, Hiddushei Ha-Radal, Ha-Tirosh Al Midrash Rabbah, ad loc.

[xviii] Avodah Zarah 4a

[xix] Amos 3:2

[xx] See also Sanhedrin 38b, which states that one must know how to answer the heretic, and Rashi ad loc. s.v. “kedei she-teda”, who comments that this means to be able to respond with Scriptural proofs. See also Meharsha ad loc. Interestingly, we saw previously in our quote from Bava Kama 55a how R. Hiyya sent R. Hanina to a fellow of R. Yehoshua b. Levi, who was an “expert in aggadah.” This may be connected to the fact that R. Yehoshua b. Levi was regularly “harassed” by a certain neighborhood heretic regarding Scripture (Berachot 7a, Avodah Zarah 4b, Sanhedrin 105b).

[xxi] Moed Katan 16b

[xxii] II Samuel 23:1

[xxiii] Shabbat 63a

[xxiv] Torat Moshe, beginning of Beshalach.

[xxv] See also Meharsha to Sanhedrin 24a who has a similar understanding specifically of the sages of Babylonia.

[xxvi] In the interest of space, the reader can also examine the phrase, “mikra hayah be-yadeinu”, Zevahim 59a and Avodah Zarah 52b. See also Mishnah Avodah Zarah 2:5 and Responsa Rivash 248 on problems of pronunciation. Additionally, there may be some evidence that the last editors and scribes of the Talmud did not have expertise in Tanakh, based on many mistaken quotations of verses found in the Talmud. Tosafot note the mistakes many times, although they often attribute it to a certain style of the Talmud. Many of the following sources are quoted in R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes, Mavo Ha-Talmud, end of ch. 30: See Tosafot Shabbat 128a s.v. “ve-natan”, which points to Bava Kama 81b, Eruvin 65a and Berachot 55b. Additionally, sometimes Tosafot note that the verse is mistaken in the Talmud, despite it being used to prove a law or concept. See Tosafot Eruvin 2a s.v. “el”, Tosafot Berachot 61a (and see Rashal and Meharsha ad loc.), and see Tosafot Megillah 3a, Tosafot Shabbat 5a, Tosafot Niddah 33a, Tosafot Shabbat 55b s.v. “maavirm”, and Tosafot Ketubot 7b. See also Ritva to Bava Batra 123b. And see Responsa Rashba 88. And see Radak to Joshua 5:14, who writes that “the author of that derash was mistaken” regarding the text of the verse in Megillah 3a.

[xxvii] Ch. 17, s.v. “akhen timtza”, and end of ch. 30

[xxviii] A major rabbi in the Moroccan Torah world and later served as the chief rabbi of Haifa

[xxix] Otzar Mikhtavim, 1:246

[xxx] He also adds a source of his own, from the Zohar, Hashmatot 266b, that asks why Moses receives a double calling by God, “Moses, Moses,” and Jacob does not receive a calling of, “Jacob, Jacob.” Meanwhile, Genesis 46:2 states those words exactly. So, argues R. Messas, the Zohar itself makes mistakes regarding verses.

[xxxi] Avodah Zarah 19b s.v. “Yeshaleish,” Sanhedrin 24a s.v. “Belulah,” and Kiddushin 30a s.v. “Lo.”

[xxxii] Sanhedrin 24a

[xxxiii] This passage in relation to the contemporary issue of studying Tanakh has been discussed previously in this very publication. See Gilad Barach, Nakh: The Neglected Nineteen, Kol Hamevaser November 2011, and see Shlomo Zuckier, Defending the Opponents of Nakh: A Reluctant Devil’s Advocate, Kol Hamevaser February 2012, and see Nathan Hyman, Rabbeinu Tam Won’t Sign Off On Your Dusty Tanakh, Kol Hamevaser May 2015.

[xxxiv] See also an interesting discussion in Responsa Maharil, 149, where he wonders if he has to accuse the Tosafot of being mistaken regarding Tanakh.

[xxxv] See Ephraim Kanarfogel, Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages, Wayne State University Press (1991), 79-82. See also Ephraim Urbach, Urbach, Ba’ale ha-Tosafot, Jerusalem (1980), 1:107-108

[xxxvi] Sefer Ha-Galui, ed. H. J. Mathews (Berlin, 1887), 2.

[xxxvii] See Urbach 1:107 fn. 4, and see there further discussion if R. Tam wrote a commentary to Job, and his contribution to the Tosafist commentaries on the Torah.

[xxxviii] See S. Schechter in Bait Ha-Talmud 4 (1885): 344, and Karnarfogel, Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages, 79. See further in Kanarfogel, “On the Role of Bible Study in Medieval Ashkenaz”, in The Frank Talmage Memorial Volume, Vol. I, ed. by Barry Walfish (Haifa, 1993).

[xxxix] Eruvin 53a

[xl] Eruvin 53a, s.v. “ki

[xli]  R. Yisrael Herczeg, The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary, Translated, Annotated and Elucidated, New York (1995), 444. He sources this comment to Tanhuma, Ki Tisa 16, but it can also be found in Exodus Rabbah 41:5, and cf. Shir Ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:11.

[xlii] It seems that as opposed to Tosafot, Rashi believes that someone learning Mishnah had already studied Tanakh well enough. See Yevamot 50a which states that Rav Yosef claimed that R. Yehudah taught a Mishnah unnecessarily. Rashi, s.v. “mishnah she-eina tzerikha” comments that a Mishnah is unnecessary if it is explicit in the Torah, since everyone learning the Mishnah would know it. Tosafot, ad loc., on the other hand, disagree with Rashi, arguing that there are many teachings of the Oral Torah that are based on explicit verses and attribute the non-necessity to something obvious in logic. Rashi apparently assumed all reading the Mishnah would already know Tanakh.

[xliii] Bava Metzia 33a-b, and cf. Yerushalmi Horiyot 3:5

[xliv] Beitza 2b

[xlv] See Rashi to Temurah 15b, s.v. “liba”, and Sanhedrin 42a, s.v. “milhamta”, and see his invective regarding the mistaken interpretation of an “adam charif u-me-pulpal” in Hullin 81a, s.v. “hatra’a”. See also Rashi to Avodah Zarah 19a s.v. “yilmad adam” and s.v. “ve-ahar kakh yehegeh”, and Rashi to Berahot 63b, s.v. “has ve-ahar kakh”.

[xlvi] Shabbat 16:1

[xlvii] Shabbat 115a, s.v. “bein she-ein

[xlviii] Thank you to R. Yisrael Herczeg for making me aware of this source (and his other very helpful notes)

[xlix] On Ecclesiastes 5:9, and cf. ibid. 6:2, and see ibid. 7:28

[l] See also Berachot 11b, Rashi s.v. “af

[li] Berahot 28b

[lii] See Karnarfogel, Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages, 85

[liii] Community, Covenant and Commitment (New York, 2005), ed. Nathaniel Helfgot, pg.104-105.