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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q3.38 TOC Q3.40 >

Question 3.39:
What is the Shulkhan Arukh?


Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488 - 1575) made his greatest contribution to Jewish law by spending twenty years compiling an enormous halakhic work, the Beit Yosef. The Beit Yosef is a huge commentary on the Tur in which he clarifies the opinions of authorities who lived after the time of Rabbi Yaakov.

However, a work was needed that would let a student determine Jewish law without having to wade through all of the voluminous and complex literature of the Talmud, the law codes and their commentaries.

Rabbi Karo set out to solve this problem, and finally wrote The Shulkhan Arukh (literally, The Set Table) as a concise collection of the law brought in his larger work, the Beis Yosef. In writing the Shulkhan Arukh, Rabbi Yosef followed the chapter divisions of the Tur, although he innovated by breaking each section up into separate paragraphs for each law.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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