Yechiel of Paris

Yechiel of Paris
Personal details
Born Paris, France
Died c. 1268
Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem

Yechiel ben Joseph of Paris (Jehiel of Paris; called Sire Vives in French (Judeo-French: שיר ויויש) and Vivus Meldensis ("Vives of Meaux") in Latin)[1] was a major Talmudic scholar and Tosafist from northern France, father-in-law of Isaac ben Joseph of Corbeil. He was a disciple of Rabbi Judah Messer Leon, and succeeded him in 1225 as head of the Yeshiva of Paris, which then boasted some 300 students; his best known student was Meir of Rothenburg. He is the author of many Tosafot.

Disputation of Paris

Main article: Disputation of Paris

Yechiel of Paris is best known as the main defender of Judaism in the 1240 Disputation of Paris held at the court of Louis IX, where he argued against the convert Nicholas Donin. This was the first formal Christian-Jewish disputation held in medieval Christendom. In defence of accusations of slanderous quotes in the Talmud against the founder of Christianity, Yechiel argued that the references to Yeshu in fact refer to different individuals. Yechiel delineates them as Jesus himself, executed for sorcery (b.Sotah 47a), another "Yeshu haNotzri", also from Nazareth (b.Sanhedrin 107b), and a third "Yeshu" of the boiling excrement in b.Gittin 47a.[2] Berger (1998) writes "Whatever one thinks of the sincerity of the multiple Jesus theory, R. Yehiel found a way to neutralize some dangerous rabbinic statements, and yet the essential Ashkenazic evaluation of Jesus remains even in the text of this disputation." Yechiel's argument was followed by Nachmanides at the Disputation of Barcelona 1263, but not by Profiat Duran at the Disputation of Tortosa 1413–14.[3]

Although the disputants were believed by many to have successfully defended Judaism, a decree was passed, to publicly burn all available manuscripts of the Talmud—and on Friday, June 17, 1244, twenty-four carriageloads of written works were set alight.

Arrival in Acre

In around 1258, Yechiel arrived in Outremer and settled in Acre, then ruled by the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, along with his son, Messire Delicieux (מישירא דילשיש) and a large group of followers.[4][5] He soon re-established the Great Academy of Paris (Midrash haGadol d'Paris)[6] and is believed to have died there between 1265 and 1268.[7] He was buried near Haifa, at Mount Carmel. Others however maintain he never emigrated and died in France,[8] where a fragment of funeral stone has been found bearing the inscription



לגן עד

which could be from rabbi Yechiel.

See also


  1. Gross, Heinrich (1897). Gallia Judaica (in French). Paris: L. Cerf. p. 341. LCCN 51050586.
  2. Berger in Jewish history and Jewish memory: essays in honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. ed. Elisheva Carlebach, John M. Efron - 1998 -p33 "Now, if his argument that the Jesus of the boiling excrement is not the Talmud's Jesus of Nazareth still stands, then R. Yehiel has not two Jesuses but three, two of whom came from Nazareth, and this is in fact strongly implied in the Christian response recorded in the Oxford manuscript of the Hebrew text and is explicitly stated in the Moscow manuscript."
  3. Berger in Jewish history and Jewish memory: essays in honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi Elisheva Carlebach, John M. Efron - 1998 -p39 "This discussion makes it perfectly clear that Duran gave no credence to a theory of two Jesuses."
  4. Jafi education
  5. Lookstein Bionotes
  6. Jewish History
  7. Judaism
  8. Emanuel, Simha (2008). Haker, Joseph, ed. "ר' יחיאל מפריס: תולדותיו וזיקתו לארץ-ישראל". שלם / Shalem (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi. 8: 86–99. (subscription required (help)).
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