About Ṣemaḥ "Shemarya" ben Paltoi Kohen Ṣedeq, Dayyanaʾ debava of Sura
Amram ben Sheshna, dean of the academy (Aram. resh metivta) at Mata Meḥasiya [Sura]. To all the rabbis and their students and the rest of our brothers among the Jewish people dwelling in the country of Barcelona, dear and honored and loved in our eyes. May their peace grow and be multiplied infinitely. Accept greetings from me and from
Ṣemaḥ ben Paltoi, the assistant dean of the academy (dayyanaʾ de-bava)
and from the leading sages (Aram. reshe kalli), and from all the scholars here in the place of the Great Sanhedrin, and from my colleagues who are in the place of the Lesser Sanhedrin, and from the rest of the scholars and the teachers (tannaʾim) and the scholars gathered here at this seminary. We inquire continually as to your state and we pray for mercy upon you; may God show you compassion from amidst His abundant mercy.
As for the questions that you posed before us, we have ordered and had them read before us, in the presence of the head of the academy and the best of scholars and all the pupils. We have studied them and we have examined what was written in them, and thus we have been instructed from the heavens . . . (Mussafia, n. 56)
Arazi, Albert, and Haggai Ben-Shammai. “Risāla,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (1997), vol. 8, pp. 532–539.
Assaf, Simḥa. The Period of the Geʾonim and Its Literature: Lectures and Lessons, ed. Mordecai Margalioth, 3rd ed. (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1967), pp. 211–220 [Hebrew].
Ben-Shammai, Haggai. “A History of the Karaite Neighborhood in Jerusalem,” Cathedra 70 (5744/1994): 59–74 [Hebrew].
Brody, Robert. The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 185–201.
Elon, Menachem. Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles, trans. Bernard Auerbach and Melvin J. Sykes, vol. 3 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994), pp. 1453–1528.
Gil, Moshe. In the Kingdom of Ishmael during the Period of the Geʾonim, 4 vols.(Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1997) [Hebrew].
Glick, Shmuel. The New Collection of Responsa: A Bibliographical Anthology of the Responsa Literature from the Beginning of Printing until the Year 2000 (Ramat-Gan: Ha-Sifriya le-Mishpaṭim, Bar-Ilan University, 2006–07), pp. 1–104 [Hebrew].
Goldziher, Ignác. “Über eine Formel in der jüdischen Responsenlitteratur und in den muhammedanischen Fetwas,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 53 (1899): 645–652.
ʿImanuʾel, Simḥa. “The Brief Responsa of the Geʾonim,” in ʿA ṭ arah le- Ḥ ayyim: Me ḥ qarim ba-Sifrut ha-Talmudit ve-ha-Rabbanit li-Khevod Profesor Ḥ ayyim Zalman Dimi ṭ rovsqi (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2000), pp. 439–453 [Hebrew].
Mussafia, Jacob. The Re sponsa of the Geʾonim: Which Were Copied from a Manuscript Collection, Which Were Proof-read, and to Which Notes Were Added (Lyck: Ḥevrat Meqiṣey Nirdamim, 1864) [Hebrew].
Spiegel, Yaʿaqov Shmuʾel. Chapters in the History of the Jewish Book (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2005), pp. 228–306 [Hebrew].
Sklare, David Eric, and Haggai Ben-Shammai. Hand-written Manuscripts in Judæo-Arabic from the Firkovitch Handwritten Collection: The Works of Joseph al-Ba ṣ īr: A Sample Catalogue: Sources and Studies (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1997) [Hebrew].
For a description of the collections of gaonic responsa published through 1985 and studies on them, see Tsvi Groner, The Legal Methodology of Hai Gaon, Brown Judaic Studies 66 (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1985), pp. 173–187.
A list of sixty works of responsa by rabbis of Spain and North Africa during the period of the rishonim can be found in Menachem Elon (ed.), Digest of the Responsa Literature of Spain and North Africa (Jerusalem: Hoṣaʾat ha-Makhon le-Ḥeqer ha-Mishpaṭ ha-ʿIvri and Magnes Press, 1981), pp. 30-33 [Hebrew].
On the methods of historical use of the responsa literature, see also Haym Soloveitchik, Poland during the Sixteenth Century (Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1990) [Hebrew].
The following list illustrates some of the more well known respondents and their printed editions in order to give a general sense of the breadth of the responsa literature:
Naṭronai bar Hilai Gaʾon (d. 858, Iraq): The Responsa of Rav Na ṭ ronai bar Hilai Gaʾon: Published from Manuscripts and First Prints, ed. Robert Brody (Jerusalem: Makhon Ofeq, 1994), 562 responsa [Hebrew].
Hai ben Sherira Gaʾon (d. 1038, Iraq): Tsvi Groner, “A List of Hai Gaon’s Responsa,” Alei Sefer 13 (1986). A bibliographical list of 1,112 responsa. [Hebrew].
Isaac ben Jacob Al-Fasi (d. 1103, Spain): (1) The Responsa of Rabbi Isaac Al-Fasi (Vienna: A. Shmid; 1794; repr. Jerusalem, 1974/75), 420 responsa [Hebrew]. (2) Responsa, ed. Zeʾev Byednovits (Biłgoraj: N. Ḳronenberg, 1935. repr. Jerusalem: 1968/69), 176 responsa [Hebrew]. (3) The Responsa of Rabbi Isaac Al-Fasi, ed. Wolf Leiter (Pittsburgh: Makhon ha-Rambam, 1954), 419 responsa [Hebew]. (4) Sheʾelot u-Teshuvot be-Tosefet Ṣiyyunim, ed. Dov Ṣevi Roṭshṭeyn (New York: Mekhon Ṣevi le-Moreshet Gedole Yisraʾel, 1974/75), 125 responsa [Hebrew].
Joseph ha-Levi ben Me’ir ibn Migash (d. 1114, Spain): The Responsa of Joseph ha-Levi ibn Migash, ed. Simḥa Ḥasida (Jerusalem: Mekhon Lev Sameaḥ,” 1990/91), 237 responsa [Hebrew].
Moses Maimonides (d. 1204 Egypt): The Responsa of Maimonides: Published for the First Time in Their Original Arabic, ed. Joshua Blau (Jerusalem: Meḳitse Nirdamim, 1957–86), 481 responsa [Hebrew & Arabic].
Abraham ben Moses Maimonides (d. 1237, Egypt): The Responsa of Abraham ben Moses Maimonides, ed. Avraham Ḥayim Freimann and Shelomo Dov Gotein (Jerusalem: Meḳitse Nirdamim, 1937), 230 responsa [Hebrew & Arabic].
Ṣemaḥ "Shemarya" ben Paltoi Kohen Ṣedeq, Dayyanaʾ debava of Sura's Timeline