Karo, Joseph ben Ephraim

born 1488, Spain
died March 24, 1575, Safed, Palestine

Spanish-born Jewish scholar.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, he and his parents settled in Turkey. Around 1536 he emigrated to Safed in Palestine, where he studied the Talmud and systematized the vast body of material produced by post-Talmudic writers. He was the author of the last great codification of Jewish law, the House of Joseph, which was later condensed as The Well-Laid Table and is still authoritative for Orthodox Judaism.

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▪ Jewish scholar
Karo also spelled  Caro , or  Qaro , also called  Maran  (Aramaic:  “Our Master”) 
born 1488, Spain
died March 24, 1575, Safed, Palestine [now Ẕefat, Israel]

      Spanish-born Jewish author of the last great codification of Jewish law, the Bet Yosef (“House of Joseph”). Its condensation, the Shulḥan ʿarukh (“The Prepared Table,” or “The Well-Laid Table”), is still authoritative for Orthodox Jewry.

      When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, Karo and his parents settled in Turkey. About 1536 he emigrated to Safed (Ẕefat) in Palestine, then the centre for students of the Talmud (Talmud and Midrash) (the rabbinical compendium of law, lore, and commentary) and the Kabbala (the influential body of Jewish mystical writings).

      Because of the partial disintegration in Jewish life after the Spanish expulsion, and the diversity of Talmudic authorities in different countries, Karo undertook two major works to standardize Judaism's customs and laws, many derived from the Talmud. The first and greater of his works was the commentary Bet Yosef on the codification Arbaʿa ṭurim (1475; “Four Rows”) of Jacob ben Asher. Following Asher's topical arrangement, Karo brought together the legal decisions of three leading representative Talmudists: Moses Maimonides (Maimonides, Moses), Isaac Alfasi, and Asher ben Jehiel. When he found disagreement among the three, Karo took the majority opinion as final. That procedure, however, gave a Sephardic (Sephardi) bias to the work, because Maimonides and Alfasi usually agreed and both were Sephardic—i.e., Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent. In addition, Karo often decided difficult points of law on his own authority. In the scope of sources used, Bet Yosef went far beyond the code of Maimonides (chiefly confined to the Talmud) and systematized the vast body of material produced by post-Talmudic rabbinical writers.

      Because of the complexity and erudition of the Bet Yosef, Karo produced a popular condensation, Shulḥan ʿarukh (1564–65), which provoked the strictures of Moses Isserles, a learned Polish rabbi. Isserles objected to the work's Sephardic bias as slighting the customs of the Ashkenazim (Ashkenazi) (Jews of German and Polish descent). A corrective commentary by Isserles, Mappa (1571; “The Tablecloth”), made Karo's code acceptable to Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews alike. Since that time the commentary has been published with Karo's digest.

      Karo was also the author of another major work, a strange, mystical diary, entitled Maggid mesharim (1646; “Preacher of Righteousness”), in which he recorded the nocturnal visits of an angelic being, the personification of the Mishna (the authoritative collection of Jewish Oral Law). His visitor spurred him to acts of righteousness and even asceticism, exhorted him to study the Kabbala, and reproved him for moral laxities.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Karo, Joseph ben Ephraim — (1488, España–24 mar. 1575, Safed, Palestina). Erudito judío de origen español. Cuando los judíos fueron expulsados de España en 1492, se estableció con sus padres en Turquía. Hacia 1536 emigró a Safed en Palestina, donde estudió el Talmud y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Joseph ben Ephraim Karo — Joseph Karo Artistic conception of Karo s appearance Born 1488 Toledo, Spain Died 24 March 1575 Safed Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, also …   Wikipedia

  • CARO, JOSEPH BEN EPHRAIM — (1488–1575), author of the Shulḥan Arukh . Life Caro was apparently born in Toledo, Castile. It seems that after the expulsion from Spain (1492) his family left for Turkey or Portugal, but it is possible that they left for Portugal even before… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Ben — /ben/, n. a male given name, form of Benjamin. * * * (as used in expressions) Akiba ben Joseph Alfasi Isaac ben Jacob Alkalai Judah ben Solomon Hai Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Israel ben Eliezer Ben Ali Zine el Abidine Ben Bella Ahmed Ben… …   Universalium

  • Joseph — /joh zeuhf, seuhf/, n. 1. Jacob s eleventh son, the first of Jacob and his second wife, Rachel: sold into slavery by his brothers. Gen. 30:22 24; 37. 2. the husband of Mary who was the mother of Jesus. Matt. 1:16 25. 3. (Hinmaton yalaktit), c1840 …   Universalium

  • ben — ben1 /ben/, Scot. n. 1. the inner or back room of a two room cottage, esp. when used as a combined parlor and bedroom. adv., prep. 2. within; inside. adj. 3. inside; inner. [1400 50; late ME (Scots); as adv., unexplained var. of late ME bin, ME… …   Universalium

  • Ephraim — /ee free euhm, ee freuhm/; for 4 also /ef reuhm/, n. 1. the younger son of Joseph. Gen. 41:52. 2. the tribe of Israel traditionally descended from him. Gen. 48:1. 3. the Biblical kingdom of the Hebrews in N Palestine, including ten of the twelve… …   Universalium

  • Joseph — (as used in expressions) Abbot, Sir John (Joseph Caldwell) Addison, Joseph Akiba ben Joseph Jacques Joseph Ahearn Arrow, Kenneth J(oseph) Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Belloc, (Joseph Pierre) Hilaire Berrigan, Daniel (Joseph) y …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ben — ► sustantivo masculino BOTÁNICA Árbol o moringáceo, con tronco recto, flores blancas y cuyo fruto da por presión un aceite que no se enrancia y que se emplea en relojería y perfumería. (Moringa oleifera.) * * * ben1 (pl. «beni») Palabra árabe,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ephraim — (as used in expressions) Burchfield, Charles (Ephraim) Karo, Joseph ben Ephraim Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim …   Enciclopedia Universal

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