As mandated by the Written and Oral Torah, the Jewish people maintain literacy, even in Medieval Europe. For a number of centuries now, scholars compile commentaries on both Torahs. Everything is recorded on handwritten parchment.
RAbbi SHlomo Itzchaki, known as RASHI, is gifted with Divine ability and the resources to write what will become a major commentary on both the entire Bible and the Babylonian Talmud.
Rashi lives in Troys, France, and supports his family and later an academy from his wine manufacturing company.
His clear and supportive commentary on the Talmud makes this great work significantly more accessible to the masses. It becomes quickly accepted and adopted by the scholars of every branch of Judaism.
Rashi's daughters assist in the publication, which is quite remarkable. Later on in history, a fourteenth- century queen will be complimented because she can read.
None of the horror of the Crusades is reflected in Rashi's works. It is truly amazing that he was able to accomplish so much during this troubled period.
We have several legends about Rashi. As Rabbi Berel Wein frequently says, while legends or their details may not be fully accurate or even true, they serve to characterize both the people and the times.
A legend goes that the crusader Godfrey received an audience with the saintly Rashi and asked whether he would be successful on his mission. Rashi replied that he would be initially victorious but his forces would eventually be decimated and he would return with only three horses. Reacting as though this was some type of hex, the furious Godfrey swore that if he returned with even four horses he would destroy the Jewish community of Troys.
Rashi's words came true. Godfrey returned with his remaining four horses, which he guarded with his life. As he passed through the city wall of Troys, a stone dislodged from the wall and struck one of the horses dead.
Illustration: Rashi's Name Written In Rashi Script Letters
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