) was a Jewish-Babylonian halakist
of the first half of the 9th century.
identification of his surname with "Qahirah," the Arabic name of Cairo (founded
980), was shown by J.L.
ed. Cassel, p. 12, Berlin, 1848) to be impossible.
's suggestion (M.J.C.
ii, p. viii) of its identification with Qayyar in Mesopotamia
is equally untenable. It is now
generally and more correctly assumed that "Kayyara" is derived from
a common noun, and, like the Syro-Arabic "qayyar," originally
denoted a dealer in pitch or wax. Rabbinic sources often refer to
Kayyara as Bahag,
an abbreviation of
Ba'al Halakhot Gedolot
(="author of the Halakhot
"), after his most important work.
The Halakhot Gedolot
Kayyara's chief work was the Halakhot Gedolot
גדולות), or, as it is called by some Jewish-Spanish
authors, to distinguish it
from later halakhic
codices of a similar
nature, "Halakhot Rishonot". It gives the entire halakhic and
practical material of the Talmud
codified form, and seems to represent the first attempt to treat it
according to its contents rather than according to the arrangement
of its treatises.
As to the time of its composition all the older authorities are
silent. Abraham ibn Daud
an allusion to this problem, which has caused much perplexity.
According to him (Sefer ha-Kabbalah,
i. 63), "Simeon Kayyara wrote his work in
the year 741, and after him lived Yehudai
, author of the Halakhot Pesukot
, which he
compiled from Simeon's Halakhot Gedolot.
" This statement
cannot be relied upon, as Simeon Kayyara in fact lived in the
century following Yehudai Gaon; and Halevy is of the opinion that
the names were inadvertently switched, though this reading creates
as many problems as it solves.
Many ancient authorities, like the geonim
, and others, support Kayyara's authorship; and
according to A. Epstein
, there can be no doubt that Simeon
Kayyara wrote the Halakhot Gedolot.
It would also seem
from the statements of these authorities that Simeon Kayyara's
chief sources were the She'eltot
of Achai Gaon
and the Halakhot Pesukot
Other authors, in particular from France, Germany and Italy,
ascribe this work to Yehudai Gaon
scholars have tried to reconcile these two views by saying that the
core of the work was written by Yehudai Gaon and that Simeon
Kayyara later expanded it. Halevy holds that this "core" is to be
identified with the Halakhot Pesukot
. Louis Ginzberg
(in his Geonica
of the opinion that the Babylonian recension (see below) is the
work of Yehudai Gaon and that Simeon Kayyara expanded it into what
is now known as the Spanish recension. Both these views were formed
before the discovery of the sole surviving manuscript of the
, and the question may need to be
The A. Hildesheimer
edition of the Halakhot
Index, p. 140, gives no less than 83 passages in
which the She'eltot
has been cited (Reifmann, in Bet
iii. 111 et seq., gives 109 passages); and it has in
addition more than 40 literal though unacknowledged quotations from
this same source. It is more difficult to trace material borrowed
from Yehudai Gaon
since the original form of that work has been lost. A
comparison with the redaction of Yehudai Gaon's composition, which
has been preserved as the Halakhot Pesukot
( ed. Schlossberg, Versailles, 1886
), shows that most of the
in that recension are found in the
although they deviate from it both in
wording and in arrangement. Simeon Kayyara, however, used yet
another recension of the Halakhot Pesukot,
and at times
cites both. There were of course other sources at his disposal
which have not been preserved. Not only does the fact that both the
and the Halakhot Pesukot
were used, but
also certain passages in the Halakhot Gedolot
themselves, prove that the work was composed about the year 825,
apparently at Sura
, since many explanations and
usages of the Halakhot Gedolot
are elsewhere cited under
the names of Geonim
of that place.
Interpretations and redactions
In the course of time the Halakhot Gedolot
changes. In Spain and in
North Africa the legal decisions of the
Geonim were incorporated into the book, and
its whole appearance was so changed that gradually a different
recension was developed.
The original or Babylonian
redaction exists in printed form in
the editions of Venice (1548), Amsterdam (1762), Vienna (1810),
etc., and finally in that of Warsaw (1874, with an index of
passages and notes by S. A. Traub). This redaction was used by the
and by the German and
northern French scholars; for the citations of the latter from the
which work they ascribe to Yehudai Gaon
, refer to this recension.
or so-called Spanish redaction (Mahadurat Aspamia) exists
in a manuscript in the Vatican library, and has been edited by A. Hildesheimer
in the collection of the
1888-92). The material of this recension is much richer and more
comprehensive, since it contains many passages from the Talmud
, mnemonic introductory words ("simanim"), the
order of the weekly lessons, and, most important of all, legal
decisions of the Geonim
, usually indicated by
the term "shedar" (="he sent"), which are lacking in the earlier
redaction . The first gaon of whom a "teshubah" is mentioned in
this recension is Yehudai Gaon
last, Tzemah ben Paltoi
concluded, accordingly, that this redaction was made, or rather
finished, about the year 900, in some place where the Jews were in
close literary correspondence with the Babylonian seminaries.
either in Spain or in northern Africa—probably in Kairwan, the center
of Talmudic studies at that time.
Evidence in favor of
Kairwan is supplied by a passage in the Halakhot Gedolot
(ed. Hildesheimer, p. 175), which mentions a usage as being common
among the "Bene Afrika"; for it is known that "Afrika" frequently
northern Africa or Spain this
recension was carried into Italy: it was used
by the scholars of these three countries; and all of them regarded
Simeon Kayyara as its author. In the 12th century
the recension was brought to northern France, and in the
13th to Germany, where it is
sometimes cited by the scholars of both countries as "Halakhot
Gedolot shel Aspamia" (see R. Tam
, Sefer ha-Yashar,
No. 509; Or Zarua, B. M.
No. 276; Sanh.
No. 23). On the
other hand, the Babylonian redaction in the 13th century reached
Italy, where it was used by Isaiah di
, No. 31).
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography
- A. Epstein,
in Ha-Goren, iii. 46 et seq.;
- A. Harkavy,
Teshubot ha-Ge'onim, pp. xxvii., 374 et seq.;
- J.L. Rapoport, in Kerem ?emed, vi. 236;
- Schorr, in Zunz Jubelschrift (Hebr.
part), pp. 127 et seq.;
- He-haluk, xii. 81 et seq.;
- Weiss, Dor, iv. 26, 32 et seq., 107,
- Brüll, in his Jahrb. ix. 128 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. v. 234;
- idem, in Monatsschrift, vii. 217 et seq.;
- S. T. Halberstam, ib. viii. 379 et seq., xxxi. 472 et
- I. Halevy, Dorot ha-Rishonim,
iii. 200 et seq.;
- see also the bibliography of the article Yehudai ben Nahman.