Artistic conception of Karo's appearance. Painting of 19th century
An illuminated manuscript of Arba'ah Turim from 1435.
Moses Isserles (Artist's rendering)
Synagogue of Maran, R. Joseph Karo, in Safed
A 1565 edition of Even Ha'ezer, the third part of Arba'ah Turim
The Rema's tombstone at the Remuh Cemetery, Kraków
Karo's grave in Safed
Title page of Karo's Shulchan Aruch

Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, also spelled Yosef Caro, or Qaro (יוסף קארו; 1488 – March 24, 1575, 13 Nisan 5335 A.M.), was the author of the last great codification of Jewish law, the Beit Yosef, and its popular analogue, the Shulchan Arukh.

- Joseph Karo

It was authored in Safed (today in Israel) by Joseph Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later.

- Shulchan Aruch

The four-part structure of the Tur and its division into chapters (simanim) were adopted by the later code Shulchan Aruch.

- Arba'ah Turim

The halachic rulings in the Shulchan Aruch generally follow Sephardic law and customs, whereas Ashkenazi Jews generally follow the halachic rulings of Moses Isserles, whose glosses to the Shulchan Aruch note where the Sephardic and Ashkenazi customs differ.

- Shulchan Aruch

The Shulchan Aruch (and its forerunner, the Beit Yosef) follow the same structure as Arba'ah Turim by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher.

- Shulchan Aruch

He became a world-renowned scholar and was approached by many other well-known rabbis, including Yosef Karo, for Halachic decisions.

- Moses Isserles

The best-known commentary on the Arba'ah Turim is the Beit Yosef by rabbi Joseph ben Ephraim Karo: this goes beyond the normal functions of a commentary, in that it attempts to review all the relevant authorities and come to a final decision on every point, so as to constitute a comprehensive resource on Jewish law.

- Arba'ah Turim

Other commentaries are Bayit Chadash by rabbi Joel Sirkis, Darkhei Moshe by Moses Isserles, Beit Yisrael (Perishah u-Derishah) by rabbi Joshua Falk, as well as works by a number of other Acharonim.

- Arba'ah Turim

Isserles is perhaps best known for his halakhic works, chief among them his notes to the Shulchan Aruch by Yosef Karo.

- Moses Isserles

Furthermore: "The Talmud is, of course, the great reservoir to which R. Isserles turns as the first step in attempting to solve a problem. The question at hand is immediately referred to an identical or similar case in the Talmud. The second step is the weighing of the opinions of the ראשונים, i.e. Alfasi (רי”ף), Tosafists, Nachmanides, etc. expanding and explaining the text. The opinion of the majority is followed by R. Isserles and even Maimonides, whom he respected very highly, is disregarded if he was in the minority. After the Rishonim, R. Isserles proceeds to examine writings of אחרונים, i.e. Mordechai, Ashri and Tur, and the latter is followed especially when the Tosafists agree with him. At this point, the Responsa of still later authorities are cited extensively in accordance with the well-established priniciple of הלכה כבתרא, paying due attention even to the opinions of contemporaries and to customs of Polish Jewry which the ב”י omitted.

- Moses Isserles

The Italian Azariah dei Rossi, though his views differed widely from Karo's, collected money among the rich Italian Jews for the purpose of having a work of Karo's printed; and Moses Isserles compelled the recognition of one of Karo's decisions at Kraków, although he had questions on the ruling.

- Joseph Karo

Beit Yosef (בית יוסף), a commentary on Arba'ah Turim, the current work of Jewish law in his days. In this commentary Karo shows an astounding mastery over the Talmud and the legalistic literature of the Middle Ages. He felt called upon to systematize the laws and customs of Judaism in face of the disintegration caused by the Spanish expulsion.

- Joseph Karo

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A full set of the Babylonian Talmud

Halakha

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Collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah.

Collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah.

A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Sefer Torah at Glockengasse Synagogue (museum exhibits), Cologne
Hasidim walk to the synagogue, Rehovot, Israel.
A mixed-gender, egalitarian Conservative service at Robinson's Arch, Western Wall
Set of Mishneh Torah
Shulchan Aruch HaRav
Peninei Halakha Set
An illuminated manuscript of Arba'ah Turim from 1435

Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic laws, and the customs and traditions which were compiled in the many books such as the Shulchan Aruch.

The Arba'ah Turim (lit. "The Four Columns"; the Tur) by rabbi Jacob ben Asher (1270–1343, Toledo, Spain). This work traces the halakha from the Torah text and the Talmud through the Rishonim, with the Hilchot of Alfasi as its starting point. Ben Asher followed Maimonides's precedent in arranging his work in a topical order, however, the Tur covers only those areas of Jewish law that were in force in the author's time. The code is divided into four main sections; almost all codes since this time have followed the Tur's arrangement of material.

The Beit Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch of rabbi Yosef Karo (1488–1575). The Beit Yosef is a huge commentary on the Tur in which rabbi Karo traces the development of each law from the Talmud through later rabbinical literature (examining 32 authorities, beginning with the Talmud and ending with the works of rabbi Israel Isserlein). The Shulchan Aruch (literally "set table") is, in turn, a condensation of the Beit Yosef – stating each ruling simply; this work follows the chapter divisions of the Tur. The Shulchan Aruch, together with its related commentaries, is considered by many to be the most authoritative compilation of halakha since the Talmud. In writing the Shulchan Aruch, rabbi Karo based his rulings on three authorities – Maimonides, Asher ben Jehiel (Rosh), and Isaac Alfasi (Rif); he considered the Mordechai in inconclusive cases. Sephardic Jews, generally, refer to the Shulchan Aruch as the basis for their daily practice.

The works of Rabbi Moshe Isserles ("Rema"; Kraków, Poland, 1525 to 1572). Isserles noted that the Shulchan Aruch was based on the Sephardic tradition, and he created a series of glosses to be appended to the text of the Shulkhan Aruch for cases where Sephardi and Ashkenazi customs differed (based on the works of Yaakov Moelin, Israel Isserlein, and Israel Bruna). The glosses are called ha-Mapah ("the Tablecloth"). His comments are now incorporated into the body of all printed editions of the Shulchan Aruch, typeset in a different script; today, "Shulchan Aruch" refers to the combined work of Karo and Isserles. Isserles' Darkhei Moshe is similarly a commentary on the Tur and the Beit Yosef.