After the decline of Babylon as the spiritual center of Jewry, two major centers emerged to take its place. One in the extended Jewish community of Tzarfas and Ashkenaz, France and Germany, and the other Seforad and Afriki, Spain and the North African Coast. These two places spawned what we call today Ashkenazic, - German and Eastern European Jewry, and Sefardic, - North African and Middle Eastern Jewry. Even though these two areas emerged after the death of Rav Hai Gaon to take the place of Pumbedeisa and Sura, these areas had already become places of Torah at least two hundred years before. The subject of this lecture is the development of Ashkenazic Jewry and Torah scholarship during the last two hundred years of the Gaonic Era, and the leading personalities of the period.
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