Thursday, 20 February 2014

Rabbi Yoel Sirkes - the Bayit Chadash (Bach)

Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1561-20 Adar 1640) was known as the Bayit Chadash or better - the BaCh after the major commentary he wrote on the Arba'a Turim (the Tur - written by Rabbi Yaakov ben Rabbeinu Asher - the Rosh.) His commentary can be found on the outside of every page of the Tur.

The Tur is one of the most basic Halachic texts dealing with all aspects of Halacha as relevant today. The Tur takes into account the most essential Halachic opinions up until his day and reflects his final opinion in his own code. As the years moved on, two very important Halachic commentaries were added to the Tur - that of Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1565) known in his commentary as the Beis Yosef (House of Joesph) and also known as the author of the Shulchan Aruch and later the Bach (Bayit Chadash - the New House) - Rabbi Yoel Sirkes. The Beis Yosef details the opinions of hundreds of Rishonim (early codifiers of Halacha) as he examines every single Halacha as brought in the Tur. Later he compiled his Magnum Opus Shulchan Aruch giving a final verdict as to the opinion to follow after his immense analysis of the different opinions in the Beis Yosef.

Rabbi Srikes was not happy with the final opinion ruling system as he felt it would detract from people learning the codes as they appear in their original form. He therefore wrote his own commentary - the New House (as opposed to the House of Josef - the Beis Yosef) and then hoped all would come to learn the codes as they appear through the original opinions and analysis.

The Bach was an adherent to Kabbalah and he opposed the type of study known as Pilpul. He was also the father-in-law of the Taz (Rabbi Dovid HaLevy Segal), who wrote a major commentary on the Shulchan Aruch and who often cites his father-in-law (whether in agreement or even in sharp disagreement!)

He is considered one of the most basic and powerful leading Halachic authorities in all matters of Torah law today.

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