In the Rambam's introduction to the Mishneh Torah, he claims he received a direct transmission of the true rabbinic tradition from the academies of Babylonia to him and traces it.

For Ashkenazim, is there a similar text somewhere from some rabbi that does the same thing for the Ashkenazi tradition? I am looking for a source that says something like: I (insert Ashkenazi rabbi) received the tradition from .... who is traced to .... the academies of Babylonia (or Eretz Yisrael)...

Thus, similar text to the Rambam's introduction but from the Ashkenazi side.

Does such a text tracing the Ashkenazi tradition exist?


  • did the Rambam have any askhenazi students? :)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 6, 2023 at 10:35
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    "In the Rambam's introduction to the Mishneh Torah, he claims he received a direct transmission of the true rabbinic tradition from the academies of Babylonia to him and traces it." Can you quote where he says that. I see him tracing the chain of transmission from Moshe Rabbeinu to Ravina and Rav Ashi, but not from beyond the sealing of the Talmud to his time.
    – Tamir Evan
    Feb 6, 2023 at 18:15
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  • @RabbiKaii The OP is looking for an Ashkenazi equivalent to Rambam's chain of transmission (from the academies of Babylonia to him), that the OP claims is brought in the introduction to the Mishneh Torah.
    – Tamir Evan
    Feb 6, 2023 at 18:31
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    @DanielRomero I don't see it. Earlier the introduction says: "All the Sages who arose after the conclusion of the Talmud ... are called the Geonim. All these Geonim that arose in Eretz Yisrael, Babylonia, Spain, and France taught the approach of the Talmud, revealing its hidden secrets and explaining its points ..." When it says - in the excerpts you quote - 'Geonim', it's talking about all post-Talmudic sages who explained the Talmud, not just those in Babylon.
    – Tamir Evan
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


Maharshal's Teshuvah 29 cites an earlier manuscript that states that Rabbeinu Gershom received the mesorah from Rav Hai Gaon, and then continues to trace it through several centuries of Ashkenazic luminaries, down to the Avi Haezri (d. 1225) and Maharam Rothenburg (d. 1293).


It would be better to have sources for this, but:
I always understood that the Ashkenazi school (Baalei Tosefos) were very much defined by the fact that they did not have such a clear chain of tradition. They had a gemara and a few ancient sources like Rabbeinu Chananel, but mostly they needed to work the gemara out by looking at it as a whole and seeing how it could be understood. That's what Tosefos do everywhere; they very rarely quote a mesorah more than a couple of generations back.
I'd add as a comparison that the Talmud Bavli itself was not so different in its origin, partly. The chachmei hagemara had Mishnah, and some Beraisos, and some mesorah (Rav said this, Shmuel said that.) Starting with that, the amoraim did their best to figure things out, based on their overall understanding. Once in a while, a whole long discussion was disrupted and derailed because Ula or Rav Dimi or Ravin came with the mesorah from Eretz Yisrael and R' Yochanan, which would overrule. You can watch it happen; you can see which parts were mesorah, which were amoraim trying to figure it out.
See the discussion and my question here, which focuses on Tosefos: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/127349/jumping-elephants

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    The OP is looking for just such a source, though.
    – Harel13
    Feb 6, 2023 at 17:44
  • Indeed he is. I'm trying to prepare him for the possibility that there won't be one.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 6, 2023 at 20:03
  • This is just false. Rashi writes many times that all of his learning came from his teachers, but he rarely quotes them. Tosafos were the students of Rashi. They don't quote the Geonim so much because the Geonim's works were not widely studied after the Rif, as the Rambam writes in his introduction to Mishnayos.
    – N.T.
    Feb 9, 2023 at 10:17
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    @N.T. I don't think your comment is correct. Where does Rashi write this many times? And Tosefos were the students of Rashi, but they argue with him on every page of gemara, and not in the name of some other teacher before the R"I or R"T, also students of Rashi arguing with him. They don't quote the Geonim so much, probably because they didn't have access to much written by them. R' Chananel and the Aruch and a few others they do quote, when they have something from them. I think my clear impression is that on most issues they don't have a mesorah and don't claim one.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 9, 2023 at 11:07
  • @MichoelR And the Rambam frequently argues with the Geonim too, and indeed with his teachers (and even with his father, see Hil. Shechitah 11:10). Still doesn't mean that he's not part of their chain of mesorah.
    – Meir
    Jan 1 at 19:19

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