Restoring Spanish Torah Study to Its Former Glory: On the Goals and Intended Audiences of Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh and Its Exposition of Ta‘amei ha-Mitsvot.
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In addition to its pedagogic goals which included the further education of somewhat knowledgeable non-elites, Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh represents a proud and sustained effort to return to the way that substantive talmudic and rabbinic studies in the Sefardic world were once presented to more elite students and readers, at least in the mind of its author. Maimonides stands firmly at the center, surrounded by other Sefardic greats, and the discussion always includes and even begins with ta‘amei ha-mitsvot. Citation of Rabad of Posquieres is the only exception to the absolute primacy of Sefardic rabbinic endeavors in the Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh, although this exception is hardly a glaring one in any case, since Rabad’s works were highly venerated and extensively cited by leading Spanish rabbinic authorities throughout the thirteenth century.37 The exclusive Sefardic scholarly array presented by the author of Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh, and the near complete absence of even a single reference to the writings of the Tosafists, was intended to underscore what might have transpired in the realm of Torah study and analysis had the so-called Tosafist revolution never impacted rabbinic scholarship in Spain.38 (from Conclusion)
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