Solomon Sirilio

Solomon Sirilio (Hebrew: סיריליאו also שלמה סריליו‎) (1485–1554), the son of Joseph Sirilio, was a rabbi and author of one of the first commentaries made on the Jerusalem Talmud (Seder Zeraim).


Solomon Sirilio was a child during the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and wandered with his parents until they eventually reached Salonika, in Greece, where they settled.[1] He studied Jewish legal law and ethics in the city’s chief seats of learning, until, at length, he began to instruct others in the laws of his countrymen, the Mosaic law, both, in his city and in Adrianople. In 1532, he immigrated to Ottoman Galilee where he settled in Safed. In Safed, he held a discussion with Rabbi Jacob Berab over a decision concerning meat.[2] Because of a dispute between himself and Rabbi Jacob Berab, Sirilio left Safed and moved to Jerusalem.[3] There he disseminated Torah amongst his protégés who came to learn in the college, and, there, raised-up many disciples. His acclaim and renown came on account of a commentary that he wrote on the Jerusalem Talmud, covering the Order known as Zeraim and the treatise Sheḳalim.[4] His commentary was one of the first to be made on the Jerusalem Talmud, although it remained in manuscript form until 1875, when it was first printed in Mayence by Meir Lehmann. As late as 1950, only three Talmudic tractates with Sirilio's commentary had been published: Berakhot (Mainz, 1875); Terumot (Jerusalem, 1934); Shevi'it (Jerusalem, 1935),[1] although handwritten copies were made from the original manuscript, as shown by David Solomon Sassoon.[5]

Rabbi Sirilio, in his introduction to tractate Berakhot, writes that he was inspired to write a commentary on Seder Zeraim after seeing an old commentary written in the glosses of the Jerusalem Talmud (Seder Moed), made by one of the rabbis in his native Salonika. In his own words, "I saw... that these tractates (Seder Zeraim of the Jerusalem Talmud) have no commentary at all, while even the Gemaras themselves are not to be found accurate, but all of them are full of corruptions. Moreover, I have not found in my generation a wise man who is skilled in the Jerusalem Talmud."[6] Sirilio's manner of elucidation excels in lucidity and is largely built upon Rashi's commentary.[1] Sirilio also cites in his commentary Rabbeinu Shimshon ha-Zaken and Maimonides, and often makes use of transliterated Spanish words to explain the meaning of difficult Hebrew words. Occasionally, Sirilio relies on the commentary of Rabbi Isaac ben Melchizedek of Siponto (c. 1090–1160) over that of Maimonides' commentary in Seder Zera'im.[7] In Sirilio's introduction to Tractate Berakhot (part ii), he expounds upon the unique style of the Jerusalem Talmud, explaining its peculiar usage of Aramaic words used in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Babylonia, and which have never been elucidated in the Arukh.

Many of his contemporaries, in their own written responsa, including Rabbi Yosef Karo's Beit Yosef, have cited his interpretation, regarding it as being authoritative.[1] After the death of the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Levi ibn Habib (ha-Ralbach), Rabbi Sirilio became the leading sage of the Jerusalem community, until his own death a few years later.[1]


A copy of Rabbi Solomon Sirilio’s commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud is now stored in the British Museum, which had been purchased by Yehudah Zeraḥya Azulai from his heirs.[8][9] A different manuscript of Sirilio's commentary is the Moscow Ms., excerpts of which were used in the Oz Vehodor edition, in addition with the British Museum Ms. The Oz Vehodor edition (and the Artscroll edition, which uses the Oz Vehodor layout) of the Jerusalem Talmud in Hebrew now have the commentary on the whole of Seder Zeraim.


  1. ^ a b c d e Encyclopedia of Great Men in Israel (vol. 4), Mordechai Margalioth, Jerusalem 1950, pp. 1305–1306 (Hebrew)
  2. ^ Samuel of Modena, Responsa, No. 42
  3. ^ According to Rabbi Samuel de Medina, in his Questions & Responsa, Pisqei Rashdam (Yoreh Deah, responsum # 42), Rabbi Solomon Sirilio wanted to enact in Safed one of the leniencies practised in his native Salonika, where they would inspect the slaughtered animal's lungs for defects by inflating them, although the custom in the land of Israel was already to act stringently in this regard. R. Jacob Berab, the chief rabbi of the city, rejected Sirilio's idea.
  4. ^ Berakhoth Talmud Yerushalmi (ברכות תלמוד ירושלמי), with commentary by Solomon Sirilio, ed. Meir Lehmann, Mayence 1875.
  5. ^ David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid - Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, vol. 2, Oxford University Press:London 1932, p. 671.
  6. ^ Berakhoth Talmud Yerushalmi] (ברכות תלמוד ירושלמי), with commentary by Solomon Sirilio, ed. Meir Lehmann, Introduction, Mayence 1875.
  7. ^ Cf. Rabbi Solomon Sirilio's commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud (Kila'im 1:2)
  8. ^ Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, part 2 (ed. G. Margoliouth), London 1905, Cat. No. 403 (Or. 2822); Cat. No. 404 (Or. 2823); Cat. No. 405 (Or. 2824).
  9. ^ David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid - Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, vol. 2, Oxford University Press:London 1932, p. 671.
  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "SIRILLO, SOLOMON". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.