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Rabbeinu Gershom, whose takkanot are considered binding by many Ashkenazim, is often the earliest name which I hear being cited in relation to the Ashkenazi mesorah. From whom was his mesorah, if known? Can it be traced back to Chazal?

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    See Haym Soloveitchik's essay in his Collected Essays. I don't recall if it's in volume 2 or 3.
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2014 at 15:52
  • @DoubleAA very funny... Oct 28, 2014 at 18:16
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    To summarize the thesis set forth by R. Dr. Soloveitchik and in collected Essays vol. II and elaborated on in vol. III, the Ashkenazic mesorah was founded by a group of Babylonian scholars who, annoyed with the increasing liberalisation of their "mainstream" Geonic counterparts, moved to the Rhineland to start anew. Thus, in spite of a few Palestinian/ Italian influences on Ashkenzaic liturgy, their massoret in learning is a continuation of those maverick Babylonians. If you are interested I will post this as an answer, but at this time I do not have the collected essays, so all is from memor
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 9, 2016 at 2:42
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    If 'we' follow the Italian hypothesis who is we? He demonstrates that much of the alleged Palestinian positions received via Italy are bogus. Sure they picked up some liturgy, but that isn't the same as what he is discussing; a living halakhic tradition.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 19, 2017 at 14:51

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From this article on early roots of Jewish life in Germany, it sounds like Rabeinu Gershom himself wrote about Rabbi Yehudah ben Rabbi Meir HaKohein (aka Rabbi Leontin) in one of his teshuvos, that it was "...Rabbi Leon who taught me the majority of his learning."

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Maharshal writes that based on his references, Rabbeinu Gershom learned from Rav Hai Gaon, who was the son of Rav Sherira Gaon (who in turn has a whole letter in which he lists the complete chain of all the teachers until Moshe Rabeinu):

Sherira Gaon transmitted the law to his son Hai Gaon (born 956), who was last of the geonim. Rabbenu Gershon Meor ha-Golah (died 1040), Rabbenu Hananeel, and Elijah ha-Zaken, who was brother-in-law of Hai Gaon and brother of Jekuthiel, received the traditional law from Hai Gaon and from Jekuthiel.

https://www.sefaria.org/Teshuvot_Maharshal.29?lang=bi

A very interesting teshuvah by the way. Worthwhile to read, it is translated to English on Sefaria!

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The Shaim HaGedolim from the Chida brings three opinions regarding who his teacher was. One is Rav Hai Gaon, another is Rabbeinu Chananal, and the third is Rabbi Yehuda Ben Meir HaKohen HaZakein who is called Rabbeinu Leontin.

The entry for the latter has no biographical information, but under Rabbeinu Leontai it says in the notes that this is an Italian version of the name Yehuda, and he is referenced that way in Hagaos Maymonis.

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