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Why is there no Rashi on Yerushalmi? What can I learn instead?

Is there anything that can replace it, and why was it not written?

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Rashilover, welcome to the site. I hope you stick around end enjoy it. You may wish to split up this question into an historical one (why Rashi didn't write on the Y'rushalmi) and one seeking a recommendation (for a similar commentary) in order to boost your chances of getting a reply to each and in order to make the question better for future visitors. On another note, you may wish to register your username: this will afford you a better site experience. –  msh210 Feb 6 '12 at 22:12
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2 Answers

A common commentary to the Yerushalmi that serves a similar function to Rashi is the Penei Moshe written by Rabbi Moshe Margolis. A volume from the Talmud Yerushalmi with his commentary can be seen here.

Other commentaries that follow a similar pattern are Korban Ha'edah by Rabbi David Frankel and Chiddushei Ridvaz by Rabbi Yaakov David Willowsky. These are all available in many printed Yerushamis today.

As to why Rashi didn't compose a commentary on the Yerushalmi: he might have if he had ever finished the Bavli. Unfortunately, he died before doing so in the middle of writing his commentary on Bava Batra (he made it until page 29a).

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+1 for the commentary recommendations. Re "he probably would have if he had ever finished the Bavli", do you have a source or argument for this, or is it pure speculation? –  msh210 Feb 6 '12 at 22:16
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@msh210 Speculation (thought I think pretty reasonable). I've edited to make it less presumptuous. –  Double AA Feb 6 '12 at 22:18
    
I've heard in the name of an Adam Gadol (the Brisker Rav, perhaps?) that Rashi didn't write on Yerushalmi because he had no mesorah from his rabbeim as to its meaning. –  Dave Feb 6 '12 at 22:51
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@Dave, IIRC, Rashi does quote Yerushalmi here and there, so it's not like he didn't know what it meant. Also, as per the famous comment of the Rashbam regarding Rashi's commentary on Chumash, according to which he would have rewritten it with "newer" p'shat explanations if he had had the time, apparently Rashi was not against writing commentaries without a specific mesorah from his teachers (although perhaps I shouldn't compare chumash with gemara). –  jake Feb 6 '12 at 23:49
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@Dave, I think it may simply be this: Rashi's commentary on the Bavli actually began as a rewrite of the students' notes that were floating around in the yeshivos of France and Germany. Presumably, if the Yerushalmi had been a regular subject of study there, there would have been similar students' notes that he might have then used as a basis for a commentary; without those, though, there may have been no more reason for him to write on the Yerushalmi than on any other Chazalic literature. –  Alex Feb 7 '12 at 4:12
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Double AA covered the main commentaries on Yerushalmi. Here are a few very useful contemporary ones:

Lev Yerushalayim (on all of Yerushalmi, I think)

Commentary of Rav Chaim Kanievsky (example here)

The Artscroll Yerushalmi (in progress)

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See also yerushalmionline.org/seforim.html. –  msh210 Feb 7 '12 at 18:43
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