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Michael Jolles

Isaac Ben Perez was a notable 13th century medieval Scholar from Northampton, whose opinions were highly regarded in his day and some of which still survive.

His identity as an important scholar came to light through the re-discovery (D. Kaufmann), publication (I. Brodie), and interpretation (E. Urbach) of Rabbi Jacob ben Jehuda Hazan of London's Etz Hayyim (c1286), in which Isaac ben Perez is mentioned several times in connection with his pronouncements. Comments on other topics attributed to a 'Rabbi Isaac' or a 'Rabbi Isaac ben Perez' (without mentioning Northampton) require further investigation. No manuscripts of his are known, and he is not to be confused with other near contemporaries such as R. Isaac of Corbeil (or R. Perez of Corbeil). His pronouncements dealt with these subjects: the credibility of a non-Jew in respect of evidence concerning the death of a Jew (in war-time); the appropriate blessing (Mezzones or Hamotze) over what may be translated as pancakes, vermicelli, cereal, etc.; conditions concerning the blessing over the washing of one's hands in the morning; the choice between a brown (bran) loaf baked by a Jew or a white loaf baked by a non-Jew; acceptability of a blessing (Hamotze) recited at a large gathering if the blessing could not itself be heard; in connection with a blessing, the avoidance of rendering a wine-cup ritually unclean; eating between Mincha (prayers) and Maarev on Shabbat (as in Northampton). Roth mentions other Northampton scholars such as a Rabbi Aharon.

Rabbi Jacob ben Jehuda Hazan of London, The Etz Hayyim (3 vols. ed. I. Brodie, 1962, 1964, 1967); C. Roth, The Intellectual Activities of Medieval English Jewry [in:] Brit. Acad. Suppl. Papers No VIII (1949); M. Jolles, A short history of the Jews of Northampton 1159-1996 (1996), pp. 12, 13 (for further bibliog. see pp.45, 46).

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