Rashi opens his commentary to the Chumash with the words Amar Rabbi Yitzchak, "Rabbi Yitzchak said." However I am unsure the identity of this Rabbi Yitzchak. I have been unable to find a source for this question in the Talmud, Midrash, etc. Was this Rabbi Yitzchak actually Rashi's father?

(I am aware of what Siftei Chachamim says regarding this, and although they dismiss the idea that Yitzchak, Rashi's father, was an unlearned man, they do not necessarily rule out that the Rabbi Yitzchak mentioned here was Rashi's father.)

Who is the Rabbi Yitzchak mentioned here?


1 Answer 1


Lots of acharonim theorized about this, but it turns out that this is essentially a Midrash Tanchuma (Buber edition Parshat Bereishit #11):

אמר ר' יצחק לא היה צריך לכתוב את התורה אלא מהחדש הזה לכם ולמה כתב מבראשית להודיע כח גבורתו שנאמר כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים

In fact Rashi mentions basically the same idea in his commentary to Tehillim (111:6) and cites it as a Midrash Tanchuma without mentioning R. Yitzchak at all:

ומדרש תנחומא כתב לישראל מעשה בראשית להודיעם שהארץ שלו ובידו להושיב בה כל מי שירצה ולעקור אלו ולהושיב אחרים שלא יוכלו האומות לומר לישראל גזלנים אתם שכבשתם ארץ שבעה גוים

  • If I understand correctly, a lot of Rashi's midrashic comments are sourced in Midrash Tanchuma Buber. I believe a lot of achronim didn't have access to it, which gendered the discussion in the achronim, as mentioned by the OP.
    – robev
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 12:48

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