Rachel bat Rashi רחל בת רש"י (RASHI Dau.) (1070 - d.) MP

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Nicknames: "Rachel Belle Assez", "Rachel the Quite Beautiful"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Troyes, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Managed by: Yigal Burstein / יגאל בורשטיין
Last Updated:

About Rachel bat Rashi רחל בת רש"י (RASHI Dau.)

Firstborn daughter of RASHI

Rachel was divorced from her husband, Eliezer. Judy Chicago, in her compendium of significant women in history, lists Rachel (b. 1070), daughter of Rashi, as a learned woman who acted as his secretary and took his dictation when he was infirm.

There are three legends about Rashi’s daughters, all suggesting that they possessed unusual piety and scholarship. The most well-known, and most likely to be true, states that they were learned in Torah and Talmud at a time when women were forbidden to study these sacred texts. While it seems impossible for girls with a yeshiva in their home to grow up without knowledge of Torah, there is more evidence than this.

A responsum of Rashi notes that he is too weak to write so he is dictating to his daughter, which indicates that she was capable of understanding and writing complicated legal issues in Hebrew. Interestingly, there are two versions of this responsa, the other stating that Rashi was dictating to the "son of my daughter" instead of just "my daughter." However, it seems unlikely that Rashi would use the awkward expression, "son of my daughter" instead of, "my grandson," and more likely that "son of" was added in later.

There is also evidence that Rashi’s daughters and granddaughters taught Torah to local women and served as models for the proper performance of Jewish rituals.

These legends state that Rashi’s daughters wrote his commentary on the Talmud on Tractate Nedarim. There are several "Rashi" Talmudic commentaries that were obviously not written by him, some of which have been attributed to his grandson, Samuel, and son-in-law, Judah. In fact, the true authors of all but one of these pseudo-Rashi commentaries have now been identified; only Nedarim’s author remains unknown. Perhaps his daughters did write it and their identities were later suppressed.

In additon, stories persist of Rashi's daughters wearing tefillin.There is some precedent for prominent women wearing tefillin. Mikhal the daughter of King Saul, and King David's wife. Likewise, Fazonia, the first wife of Rabbi Haim ben Attar, wore tallit and tefillin, as did Rabbi Haim's second wife. The Maid of Ludomir (Hanna Rachel Werbermacher) in the 19th century also wore tefillin. These are just a few prominent cases; little is know of less prominent women.

Stories persist of Rashi's daughters wearing tefillin.There is some precedent for prominent women wearing tefillin. Mikhal the daughter of King Saul, and King David's wife. Likewise, Fazonia, the first wife of Rabbi Haim ben Attar, wore tallit and tefillin, as did Rabbi Haim's second wife. The Maid of Ludomir (Hanna Rachel Werbermacher) in the 19th century also wore tefillin. These are just a few prominent cases; little is know of less prominent women.