New info on the Rashba
R. Shelomo b. Adret (the “Rashba,” 1235-1310) has long been recognized as one of the authoritative halakhists and commentators of the medieval period, if not, all of Jewish history. The thousands of his responsa which are extant have long been a source for the history of halakhah and the history of Jews in Spain (see Y. Baer’s A History of the Jews in Spain). Recent archival work has shed some light on the role of the Rashba and his family within the Jewish community of 13th c. Barcelona. His family was one of the most influential business families, specifically in the area of money-lending. The Rashba himself expanded his families business interests to the field of real estate. Among the archival material that has been found are business contracts and loans to which members of the Adret family, including the Rashba, were signatories. While the Rashba himself wrote polemical responses to Christian and Muslim(responding to an 11th c. book) writers, it seems that he and his family also had extensive business relationships with Christians. For scholarship from the last decade or so on the Jewish community in 13th c. Spain which makes rich use of archival material, see Yom Tov Assis’s The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry: Community and Society in the Crown of Aragon, 1213-1327 and the late Elka Klein’s Jews, Christian Society, and Royal Power in Medieval Barcelona.