At the time that the Baalei haTosafot were writing, Rashi’s commentary on the gemara was a stand-alone text. It seems likely that some people learning gemara may not have had access to it. As such, whenever the tosafists want to refer to something that Rashi said, they quote the relevant part of his commentary, and they attribute it to him either by name (eg: Berakhot 53b, s.v. באכילה), or as the “booklet” (kuntres; eg: Bava Batra 2a, s.v. השור). But sometimes it also happens that they say exactly the same thing that Rashi says, without attribution and without adding anything new. An example of this would be Berakhot 6a, s.v. כי כסלא לאוגיא.

Why do they do this? Did the tosafists only name their sources when they were disagreeing with them or adding something new? Alternatively, is it possible that in the version of Rashi’s commentary that they had access to, that particular section wasn’t there? I’m trying to understand why a group of people who are usually so careful to quote Rashi might sometimes say exactly the same thing that he said, but without giving any indication as to the fact that he had said it.

  • Wasn't Rashi a Tosafist?
    – ezra
    Dec 5, 2016 at 0:12
  • @EzraHoerster - no, he wasn't. When we speak of the tosafists, we're speaking of the scholars in the Rhineland academies in the 12th-14th centuries, starting with a couple of Rashi's sons-in-law, and including prominently a few of his grandsons.
    – Shimon bM
    Dec 5, 2016 at 0:16
  • 1
    @EzraHoerster You can call Rashi whatever you would like, but the question stands. Why do the commentaries of academies of R. Tam, Ri, Rash of Shants, etc. sometimes reproduce Rashi's statements.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 5, 2016 at 0:37
  • Alternatively, is it possible that in the version of Rashi’s commentary that they had access to, that particular section wasn’t there Yes. Manuscripts of Rashi vary significantly. Rashi himself probably wrote multiple editions, which ended up being merged, and we have relatively few manuscripts from his own time to confirm the originals. All this IIRC.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 5, 2016 at 0:39
  • @ShimonbM - Thanks for the clarification. But wouldn't it make sense for Rashi's followers to repeat some of the things he said?
    – ezra
    Dec 5, 2016 at 3:41

3 Answers 3


This is one of the considerations that led R. Tzvi Hirsch Chajes to question the attribution of Rashi on Maseches Taanis. He writes in the beginning of the Masechta:

וברוב פעמים פירושים של בעלי התוס' דומים לדברי רש"י ולפעמים הם אות באות דומים לפירש"י מה שלא מצאנו בשום מקום

And many times the explanations of the Tosafists are similar to the words of Rashi, sometimes even letter-for-letter, a phenomenon which we don't find anywhere [else].

Also, the Tosafists might not have had the same Rashi that we have. As R. Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai writes in Shem Hagedolim in the entry for Rashi:

רש"י עשה שלשה מהדורות בתלמוד ומהדורא שלישית היא זו שבידינו

Rashi composed three editions of [his commentary to] the Talmud, and the third edition is the one in our hands.

תוספות מקשים על דברי רש"י במקומות רבים שהם מהדורא קמא וכיוצא

Tosafos often ask on the words of Rashi from the first edition and the like.


I have wondered about this as well. I think the answer might be as follows. The Tosafos that we have on the side of our Gemaras are a collection of notes on the Gemara written by various different scholars over hundreds of years. Before printing the notes were passed down with additions being made along the way. The printers who decided to add Tosafos to the side of the Gemara didn't necessarily choose which Baalei Tosafos' notes would be most useful, but took notes wholesale from one Baal Tosafos or another (or decided based on what fit on the page best).

Now when an individual Baal Tosafos wrote, he did not necessarily have Rashi's commentary in front of him at that time. A particular Baal Tosafos might have written the note making the same comment as Rashi not realizing that Rashi had already said it. But just as you don't go back and amend the insight you wrote on the side of your Gemara despite late learning that it was a mefurash Nimukei Yosef, the Baal Tosafos didn't necessarily go back and amend his note. Later on, this note was kept despite Rashi having said it because it was among the notes of that Baal Tosafos. If notes of that Baal Tosafos (or one of his students) made it into an early printing of the Gemara, that Tosafos will be in our Gemaras.


A very common reason for this, is that Tosfat were compiled and edited by each generation and group of scholars. Thus it happens, that the original scholar quoted Rashi and then argued with him. A later scholar, disagreed with the argument, or felt it was off topic, so he did not copy that part, but the first part with Rashi remained, though without the attribution. You can see this at times, that in alternate Tosfat, like Rosh or Rabeinu Perez, have the original arguments. Unfortunately, I haven't noted any of these locations. Hopefully I will find them soon.

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