The Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew: שֻׁלְחָן עָרוּך, literally: “Set Table”), sometimes dubbed in English as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most widely consulted of the various legal codes in Judaism. It was authored in Safed (today in Israel) by Joseph Karo in 1563. It is the most widely accepted compilation of Jewish law ever written.
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. These glosses are widely referred to as the mappah (literally: the “tablecloth”) to the Shulchan Aruch’s “Set Table”. Almost all published editions of the Shulchan Aruch include this gloss, and the term “Shulchan Aruch” has come to denote both Karo’s work as well as Isserles’, with Karo usually referred to as “the mechaber” (“author”) and Isserles as “the Rema” (an acronym of Rabbi Moshe Isserles).« Back to Glossary Index