Practically nothing is known for certain about Yose ben Yose’s (yoh-say behn YOH-say) life other than the presumption that he had been an orphan. Scholars hold varying opinions as to the dating of his life, ranging from early fourth century to as late as the seventh century. He is well known for his composition of prayer-poems (piyyutim) for use in the liturgy of the synagogue. These prayer-poems were inserted at certain points in the synagogue prayers as an embellishment, sometimes corresponding to appropriate readings from the Torah and Mishnah.
Some of the prayer-poems of Yose remain incorporated into the Orthodox rite for the Day of Atonement and into the Sephardic liturgy for both Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Yose’s poetry is distinguished from that of his successors by clarity of expression, absence of rhyme, and, although rhythmic patterns are sometimes discernible, general absence of meter. There is occasional alliteration. Like those of his successors, Yose’s prayer-poems overflow with references to the rabbinical literature known as Midrash.