Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tannaim Pt 3

Tannaim PT 3

  • Rabbi Meir (and wife Bruriah)Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes (Rabbi Meir the miracle maker) was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the third generation (139-163). According to the Talmud, his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is one of the few women cited in the Gemara. He is the third most frequently mentioned sage in the Mishnah.[1]
    In the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Gittin p. 4a, it says that all anonymous Mishnas are attributed to Rabbi Meir. This rule was required because, following an unsuccessful attempt to force the resignation of the head of the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Meir's opinions were noted, but not in his name, rather as "Others say...".[2]
    "Meir" may have been a sobriquet. Rabbi Meir's real name is thought to have been Nahori or Misha. The name Meir, meaning "Illuminator," was given to him because he enlightened the eyes of scholars and students in Torah study. [3]


    The sobriquet "Master of the Miracle" is based on the following story. Rabbi Meir was married to Bruriah, the daughter of Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon, one of the ten martyrs. The government ordered the execution of the couple for teaching Torah publicly. Bruriah's sister was sent to a brothel. Rabbi Meir took a bag of gold coins and went to the brothel disguised as a Roman horseman. He offered the money as a bribe to the guard. The guard replied, “When my supervisor comes, he will notice one missing and kill me.” Rabbi Meir answered, “Take half the money for yourself, and use the other half to bribe the officials.” The guard continued, “And when there is no more money, and the supervisors come - then what will I do?” Rabbi Meir answered:
    “Say, ‘The God of Meir - answer me!’ and you will be saved.”
    (Eloha d'Meir aneini, אלהא דמאיר ענני)
    The guard asked, “And how can I be guaranteed that this will save me?” Rabbi Meir replied, “Look - there are man-eating dogs over there. I will go to them and you will see for yourself.” Rabbi Meir walked over the dogs and they ran over to him to tear him apart. He cried, “God of Meir - answer me!” and the dogs retreated. The guard was convinced and gave him the girl. When the group of supervisors came, the guard bribed them with the money. When the money was used up, they arrested the guard and sentenced him to death by hanging. When they tied the rope around his neck, he said, “God of Meir - answer me!” and the rope tore.[4]
    From then on, a tradition developed that a Jew in crisis gives charity in memory of Rabbi Meir. He then says, “God of Meir - answer me!" Various charitable foundations have been named for Rabbi Meir and include the Rabbi Meir Baal HaNeis Salant charity founded in 1860 by Rabbi Shmuel Salant and the 'Colel Chabad Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNes' charity founded by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in 1788. Some say the above and give a small amount of charity, as a way to recover a lost item.[5]

    Talmudic references

    In the Gemara to tractate Erubin in the Babylonian Talmud there is an extended discussion of the real name of this Rabbi Meir. At 13b there is, without argumentation, a simple statement that this Rabbi Meir is "Eleazar Ben Arach," one of the students of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai. This Eleazar ben Arach is given tremendous praise in Avot of Rabbi Natan. Indeed at 2:8 of Rabbi Nathan's "Avot" this Eleazar ben Arach is presented as being the greatest of the Sages, inclusive of Rabbi Eliezer ha Gadol. Further in the Gemara to tractate Haggigah in the Babylonian Talmud [14b] this same Eleazar ben Arach is presented as a student of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai who, at an early age, had mastered the meaning of the mystical revelations which are associated with "the Work of the Chariot."
    In " 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly"[6] this conundrum is addressed. The suggestion is that the virtual disappearance of Eleazer Ben Arach from Rabbinic ways allowed for the usage of this name as a cognomen for Rabbi Meir, acceptably to Rabbinic officialdom who permitted this "cover name" to honor this great scholar but with sufficient indirectness so as not also to honor his checkered history with Rabbinic officialdom. The book also points out that Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai set up a bet midrash at Beor Khail after he left Yavneh, apparently because he was so radically shamed and discredited by what would become the mainstream of the Rabbinic Movement after "that very day" memorialized in Chapter Five of the Mishna's tractate Sotah.[7] Rabbi Meir was not a student of Zakai at Yavneh. But it is argued that it is entirely possible that he became a student of Zakai at Beor Khail.
    In his notations on Talmud (Mesoras Has'Shas), Rabbi Yeshayah Berlin points out that the Nehorai that is identified with Rabbi Eleazar is not Rabbi Meir but a different Tanna called Nehorai. In which case there is no need for the hypothesis mentioned above.[8]
    First a disciple of Elisha ben Abuyah and later of Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Meir was one of the most important Tannaim of the Mishnah. Rabbi Akiva's teachings, through his pupil Rabbi Meir, became the basis of the Mishnah. Rabbi Meir is the quoted authority for many Aggadot and Halachot that are still studied today. Also, Rabbi Meir was an active participant in Bar Kokhba's revolt.[3]
    Twenty four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva died in a plague. Only five survived, and Rabbi Meir was one of them. The four others were: Rabbi Judah ben Ilai, Rabbi Eleazar ben Shammua, Rabbi Jose ben Halafta, and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.[9]

    Tomb in Tiberias

    Rabbi Meir Ohel, view from the seashore of the Sea of Galilee
    Although Rabbi Meir died outside of the Land of Israel, he was brought to Tiberias (the same city where his well-known teacher Rabbi Akiva is buried) and buried there in a standing position near the Kinneret. It is said that he asked to be buried this way so when the Final Redemption occurs, Rabbi Meir would be spared the trouble of arising from his grave and could just walk out to greet the Jewish Messiah. [10] He requested that he be buried in Eretz Yisrael by the seashore so that the water that washes the shores should also lap his grave (Jerusalem Talmud, Kelaim 9:4). Visitors to his grave traditionally recite Tehillim and a special prayer. Every year, thousands of Jews make pilgrimage to his grave to receive blessings for health and success, in particular on his yahrtzeit (anniversary of his death) the 14th of Iyar, which is also Pesach Sheni (known as the holiday of the 'second chance').[3


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    Bruriah (Hebrew: ברוריה) is one of several women quoted as a sage in the Talmud. She was the wife of the Tanna Rabbi Meir and the daughter of Rabbi Hananiah Ben Teradion, who is listed as one of the "Ten Martyrs." She is greatly admired for her breadth of knowledge in matters pertaining to both halachah and aggadah, and is said to have learned from the rabbis 300 halachot on a single cloudy day (Tractate Pesachim 62b). Her parents were put to death by the Romans for teaching Torah, but she carried on their legacy.
    Bruriah was very involved in the halachic discussions of her time, and even challenges her father on a matter of ritual purity (Tosefta Keilim Bava Kamma 4:9). Her comments there are praised by Rabbi Judah Ben Bava. In another instance, Rabbi Joshua praises her intervention in a debate between Rabbi Tarfon and the sages, saying "Bruriah has spoken correctly" (Tosefta Keilim Bava Metzia 1:3).
    She was also renowned for her sharp wit and often caustic jibes. The Talmud (Tractate Eruvin 53b) relates that she once chastised Rabbi Jose, when he asked her "באיזו דרך נלך ללוד" ("By which way do we go to Lod?") claiming that he could have said the same thing in two [Hebrew] words, "באיזה ללוד" ("By which to Lod?") instead of four, and thereby keep to the Talmudic injunction not to speak to women unnecessarily.
    In the Midrash on Psalms 118 it states that Bruriah taught her husband, Rabbi Meir, to pray for the repentance of the wicked, rather than for their destruction. According to the story, she once found Rabbi Meir praying that an annoying neighbor would die. Appalled by this, she responded to him by explaining the verse "Let the sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked shall be no more" (Psalms  104:35), that the verse actually states: "Let sin be consumed from the earth," adding that "the wicked shall be no more" because they have repented. Another interpretation of the passage, one that fits with the Masoretic vocalization, suggests that Bruriah explained that the verse does not refer to "those who sin" (as a participle), but habitual "sinners" (as an agent noun).
    She is also described as having enormous inner strength. The Midrash on the Book of Proverbs tells that her two sons died suddenly on the Sabbath, but she hid the fact from her husband until she could tell him in a way that would comfort him. In response, Rabbi Meir quoted the verse, "A woman of valour, who can find?" (Proverbs  31:10).


    The Talmud, in Tractate Avodah Zarah (18b),[1] mentions that in the middle of his life, Rabbi Meir fled to Babylonia, and mentions two possible motivations. The second of these is "the Bruriah incident" (מעשה דברוריא), a phrase which is not explained. It is left to the classical commentaries to fill in this lacuna; Rashi (ad loc.) relates the following story. Bruriah made light of the Talmudic assertion that women are "light-minded".[2] To vindicate the Talmudic maxim, Rabbi Meir sent one of his students to seduce her. Though she initially resisted the student's advances, she eventually acceded to them. When she realized what she had done (כשנודע לה), she committed suicide out of shame. (Other sources have it that she fell ill emotionally due to shame, and a group of Rabbis prayed for her death and peace.) Rabbi Meir, in turn, exiled himself from Israel out of shame and fled to Babylonia.
    But Rabenu Nissim Ben Yakov of Kairouan provides a different explanation that is closer to the text. According to him, Rabbi Meir and Bruriah had to flee to Babylonia after the Romans executed her father, sold her mother to slavery and her sister to a brothel (to be rescued by Rabbi Meir) and were looking for her.[3] Other Rabbinic sources also take issue with Rashi's commentary, and indeed, there exists a tradition among Orthodox Rabbis to name their daughters Bruriah, as an assertion of her righteousness.
  • Simeon bar Yochai  

    Simeon bar Yochai

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    Entrance to the tomb of Simeon bar Yochai

    Artist's impression of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai on a memorial candle.
    Simeon bar Yochai, (Aramaic: רבן שמעון בר יוחאי, Rabban Shimon bar Yochai), also known by his acronym Rashbi,[1] was a famous 1st-century tannaic sage in ancient Israel, active after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. He was one of the most eminent disciples of Rabbi Akiva, and is attributed with the authorship of the Zohar, the chief work of Kabbalah.
    In addition, the important legal homilies called Sifre and Mekhilta are attributed to him. In the Mishnah, he is often referred to as simply "Rabbi Shimon." He is the fourth-most mentioned sage in the Mishnah.[2]
    According to popular legend, he and his son, Rabbi Eleazar b. Simeon were noted Kabbalists.[3] Both figures are held in unique reverence by kabbalistic tradition. They were buried in the same tomb in Meron, Israel, which is visited by thousands year round.

    Critic of Rome

    Mark (behind blue fence) over cave in which Rabbi Ele'azar bar Shim'on is buried. This main hall is divided in half in order to separate between men and women.
    According to the Talmud, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai criticized the Roman government and was forced to go into hiding with his son for thirteen years. They sheltered in a cave (which local tradition places in Peki'in). Next to the mouth of the cave a carob tree sprang up and a spring of fresh water gushed forth. Provided against hunger and thirst they cast off their clothing except during prayers to keep them from wearing out, embedded themselves in the sand up to their necks, and studied the Torah all day long. He and his son left the cave when they received a Heavenly voice saying that the Roman Emperor had died and consequently all his decrees were abolished.[4]

    Works and legends

    According to rabbinic sources, he acquired a reputation as a worker of miracles, and on this ground was sent to Rome as an envoy, where, according to legend, he exorcised from the emperor's daughter a demon who had obligingly entered the lady to enable Rabbi Shimon to effect his miracle.
    This rabbi bore a large part in the fixation of law, and his decisions are frequently quoted. To him were attributed the important legal homilies called Sifre and Mekhilta. Some modern scholars claim that Moses de León who is said to have published the Zohar in the 13th century was actually its author, however kabbalists reject this claim.
    The fullest account of Rabbi Shimon's teachings is to be found in W Bacher's Agada der Tannaiten, ii. pp. 70–149. When the Talmud attributes a teaching to Rabbi Shimon without specifying which Rabbi Shimon is meant, it means Shimon bar Yochai.
    There is a mid-eighth century, Jewish, apocalypse attributed to the Rabbi; see The Secrets of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai.
    The authenticity of his claim of authorship of the Zohar has been challenged by both secular[5] and religious scholars.[6][7]


    The tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag Ba'Omer.
    Bar Yochai died on the 33rd day of the Omer, known as Lag BaOmer. On the day of his death, he revealed deep kabbalistic secrets which formed the basis of the Zohar. According to the Bnei Yissaschar, on the day of his death, bar Yochai said, "Now it is my desire to reveal secrets... The day will not go to its place like any other, for this entire day stands within my domain..." Daylight was miraculously extended until he had completed his final teaching and died. As such, the custom of lighting fires on his yahrzeit (anniversary of death) symbolizes this revelation of powerful light.[citation needed]
    His yahrzeit is widely known as a Yom Hillula, a day of celebration. This is based on the original text of Shaar HaKavanot by Rabbi Chaim Vital, which refers to the day as Yom Simchato ("the day of his happiness"), rather than Yom SheMet ("the day that he died"). There is thus a very widely observed custom to celebrate on his yahrzeit at his burial place in Meron. With bonfires, torches, song and feasting, the Yom Hillula is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people. This celebration was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of his students. Some say that as bar Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such a "light" behind, many candles and/or bonfires are lit here as well as in locales throughout Israel and the Diaspora.[8]

    Simeon ben Yohai, Rabbi: (c. 100-160 CE) Mishnaic sage and mystic, student of Rabbi Akiba. When he evoked the wrath of the Roman authorities, he, together with his son Eleazar, hid in a cave for thirteen years, where their needs were miraculously provided for. He authored the Zohar, the most fundamental kabbalistic work. The anniversary of his passing, the 18th of Iyar, known as Lag BaOmer, is celebrated every year, as per his request.  

    Every year, when Lag BaOmer (18 Iyar) comes around, we remember the great and holy Tanna (Mishnaic sage) Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who died on this day about eighteen centuries ago. To this day, pious Jews make an annual pilgrimage to Kefar Meron, in the Land of Israel, to pray at the tomb of this great and holy scholar.
    When Shimon was a young boy, he studied in the great academy of the scholars of Yavneh, founded by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who died just about the time that Shimon was born. Shimon’s principal teacher was the famous Rabbi Akiva, who had his academy at Benei Berak. So attached did Shimon become to his master, Rabbi Akiva, that the latter called him “my son.”
    During the cruel persecution by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, when the Talmudic Academies were shut down and the study of the Talmud was forbidden on penalty of death, Rabbi Akiva continued to teach the Talmud publicly, and his devoted pupil Shimon stayed at his side, until Rabbi Akiva was arrested. Even then, Shimon continued to visit his master in prison to receive instruction there. Only death finally separated them, for Rabbi Akiva was condemned to die a martyr’s death for Kiddush Hashem (the sanctification of G‑d’s name).
    Those were very difficult times for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel under the brutal persecution of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was particularly difficult for the sages to study the Talmud and to conduct schools. On penalty of death, it was also forbidden to ordain students of the Talmud. Both the ordaining Sage and the ordained scholar were put to death if caught. The entire Jewish religious life was in danger, until the great Rabbi Yehudah ben Baba publicly ordained five famous scholars, defying Hadrian’s cruel decree. Rabbi Shimon was one of these five scholars. (Rabbi Meir was another one.) The Roman authorities were soon after these dauntless Jewish champions. The ordained scholars escaped, but Rabbi Yehudah ben Baba was caught and put to death.
    Finally, the cruel Hadrian died in great pain, and his decrees were no longer enforced with the same brutality as before. Then the leading sages of that time gathered to consider ways and means of restoring Jewish religious life. Among the leading sages gathered at Usha, we find Rabbi Shimon again. For reasons of safety, the sages moved to Yavneh, where they sat in conference in a vineyard. The leading sages were Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Yosei the Galilite, and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Discussing what attitude to take towards the Roman government, Rabbi Yehudah suggested a friendly one, Rabbi Yose expressed no opinion, while Rabbi Shimon spoke very bitterly of the Roman tyrants, and advocated every possible defiance. For Rabbi Shimon could never forget the terrible sight of his beloved master and teacher, Rabbi Akiva, being tortured to death by the Roman executioners. The sages were not aware that their conversation was overheard by a certain young man, Judah ben Gerim. At one time a disciple of Rabbi Shimon, Judah ben Gerim later turned spy for the Roman authorities. This treacherous man reported the conversation of the sages to the Roman authorities. At once they decreed honor and rank for Rabbi Yehudah for speaking favorably of them, exile for Rabbi Yosei for failing to do so, and death for Rabbi Shimon, who dared to challenge them.
    Rabbi Shimon fled for his life together with his son Rabbi Elazar. For some time they stayed in hiding in the Bet Hamedrash (academy), where Rabbi Shimon’s wife brought them bread and water daily. When the search was intensified, they decided to seek a better hiding place. Without telling anyone of their whereabouts, they hid in a cave. G‑d caused a carob tree to spring up at the entrance to the cave, as well as a spring of fresh water. For twelve years, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Elazar dwelt in the cave, sustaining themselves on carobs and water. During the time, they studied and prayed until they became the holiest sages of their day.
    At the end of twelve years, the Prophet Elijah brought them the good tidings of a change in the government and a reprieve. Father and son now left the cave. Passing a field where they saw Jewish farmers toiling on the land, they said, “Imagine people giving up the sacred study of the Torah for worldly matters!”
    No sooner did they utter these words, than all the produce of the field went up in smoke. Then they heard a heavenly voice saying, “Have you come out to destroy My world? Go back to your cave!” They returned to the cave for another twelve months, and left it again, only after they heard the same heavenly voice calling them to leave.
    This time, they came out with a different outlook on life. Seeing a Jew carrying two bunches of myrtle, rushing home on Friday afternoon, they asked him what he was going to do with the myrtle.
    “It is to adorn my house in honor of the Shabbat,” the man replied.
    “Would not one bunch of myrtle be sufficient to fill your house with fragrance?” they asked.
    The stranger replied, “I am taking two bunches, one for ‘Remember the Shabbat day’ and the other for ‘Keep the Shabbat Day holy.’”
    Said Rabbi Shimon to his son, “See how precious the precepts are to our brethren!”
    Satisfied that despite all the decrees and persecutions of the cruel Roman rulers, the Jews still clung to the commandments and especially Shabbat observance, Rabbi Shimon and his son felt greatly encouraged.
    Proceeding on their way, they met Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, another famous scholar about whom there are so many wondrous tales in the Talmud. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was Rabbi Shimon’s father-in-law, and he came out to meet his in-laws. Seeing the terrible effects of the prolonged cave life upon the health of his son-in-law, Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair burst into tears, but Rabbi Shimon consoled him saying that he could never have attained such a high degree of scholarship and divine wisdom, had he not spent so many years in the cave.
    Rabbi Shimon settled in the town of Tekoa, where he founded a great academy. The greatest scholars of the time gathered there to receive instruction from Rabbi Shimon. Among them was Rabbi Yehudah, the son of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, the Nassi, later the compiler of the Mishnah.
    One day Rabbi Shimon met Judah ben Gerim, the treacherous spy who had caused him so much trouble. Rabbi Shimon exclaimed, “Is this man still alive?” and soon afterward Judah ben Gerim died.
    Once again religious persecution increased. The Romans prohibited Shabbat observance and other important Jewish laws.
    The Sages decided to send a delegation to Rome, and chose Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to head the delegation.
    When they came to Rome, they heard that the daughter of the Roman emperor had lost her mind and that no one could cure her. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai proceeded to the palace and asked for permission to treat the patient. After a few days’ treatment the princess became well. In gratitude, the emperor told Rabbi Shimon that he could choose the most precious thing in his treasury. Rabbi Shimon found there the original decrees of persecution, and claimed them as his reward. Thus he succeeded in bringing great salvation to his people.
    Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one of the greatest teachers of Jewish Law and ethics. His many sayings and laws in the Talmud reflect his holiness of character and devotion to the Torah. Once he said, “If I were present at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, I would have demanded two mouths: one for continuous study of the words of the Torah, and the other for eating.” But then he admitted that this would not be very wise, since even now when man has but one mouth, he says so many wrong things. How much more so if he had two!
    Even though he lived the life of a recluse for many years, Rabbi Shimon knew the importance of good human relationships. Said he, “Man should rather jump into a fiery furnace than offend another in public.” “To deceive anyone by words is worse than cheating him out of money.” “He who lets arrogance get the better of him is like the heathen worshipping idols.” In the Ethics of Our Fathers, we find his saying, “There are three crowns: the crown of the Torah, and crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty; but the crown of a good name excels above them all.”
    Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is the author of the sacred Zohar (“Brilliance”), containing mystic interpretations of the Torah, and chief source of the Kabbalah. For many generations the teachings of the holy Zohar were studied by a few select scholars, until the great scholar Rabbi Moses ben Shem Tov de Leon published the Zohar about seven hundred years ago.
    Rabbi Shimon is also the author of Sifri and “Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”
    Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai died in Meron, a village near Safed, in the Land of Israel. As we mentioned before, many Jews make an annual pilgrimage to his grave on the eighteenth of Iyar (Lag BaOmer), the day he died, where they light candles and pray at his grave.

  • Eleazar ben Shammua    
    The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia

    ELEAZAR I. (LAZAR) (Eleazar b. Shammua'):

    Table of Contents
    Mishnaic teacher of the fourth generation, frequently cited in rabbinic writings without his patronymic (Ab. iv. 12; Giṭ. iii. 8, incorrectly "Eliezer"; compare Gem. Giṭ. 31b; Yer. Giṭ. iii. 45a, Mishnah and Gem.). He was of priestly descent (Meg. 27b; Soṭah 39a) and rich (Eccl. R. xi. 1), and acquired great fame as a teacher of traditional law. He was a disciple of Akiba (Zeb. 93a, 110b), but owing to the Hadrianic proscriptions of Jewish observances, was not ordained by him. After Akiba's death, however, R. Judah b. Baba ordained Eleazar, together with Meïr, Jose b. Ḥalafta, Judah b. Ila'i, and Simon b. Yoḥai, at a secluded spot between Usha and Shefar'am. The ordainer was detected in the act and brutally slain; but the ordained escaped, and eventually became the custodians and disseminators of Jewish tradition (Sanh. 13b; 'Ab. Zarah 8b).
    Mention is made of a controversy between Eleazar and R. Meïr at Ardiska (Tosef., Naz. vi. 1; see Neubauer, "G. T." p. 106). He also maintained halakic discussions with R. Judah b. 'Illai and R. Jose (Tosef., Zeb. v. 4, x. 10), and quite frequently with R. Simon b. Yoḥhai (Sheḳ. iii. 1; Yoma v. 7); but he never appeared with them at the sessions of the Sanhedrin at Usha. Hence it may be assumed that he did not return to the scene of his ordination. Whereever he settled, he presided over a college to which large numbers of students were attracted ('Er. 53a; Yer. Yeb. viii. 9d; compare Mek., Beshallaḥ, Amalek, i.), among whom are named Joseph or Issi ha-Babli (Tosef., Zeb. ii. 17; Men. 18a), and the compiler of the Mishnah, R. Judah I. ('Er. 53a); and thus,while his name does not appear in rabbinic lore as often as the names of his colleagues at the ordination, Eleazar had an ineradicable influence on the development of the Talmud. Abba Arika styles him "the most excellent among the sages" (, Ket. 40a; Giṭ. 26b), and R. Johanan expresses unbounded admiration for his large-heartedness ('Er. 53a).
    His Motto. Eleazar's motto was, "Let the honor of thy pupil be as dear to thee as that of thy colleague; that of thy colleague, as the reverence of thy master; and the reverence of thy master, as that of the Most High" (Ab. iv. 12; Ab. R. N. xxvii. 4). His disciples once requested him to tell them whereby he merited unusual longevity, when he replied, "I have never converted the Synagogue into a passageway [for the sake of convenience]; have never trodden over the heads of the holy people [i.e., come late to college and stepped between the rows of attentive students; compare Abdan]; and have never pronounced the priestly blessing before offering the benediction preceding it" (Meg. 27b; Soṭah 39a). When asked what merits will save man from the tribulations which are to precede the Messianic epoch, he replied, "Let him engage in the study of the Law and in deeds of benevolence" (Sanh. 98b). According to Eleazar, children as well as pious adults share in the glory of God (Midr. Teh. xxii. 31). He also taught that the world rests on a single pillar, the name of which is "Righteousness"; as the Bible says (Prov. x. 25, Hebr.), "The righteous is the foundation of the world" (Ḥag. 12b).
    The following anecdote concerning Eleazar is twice told in the Midrashim (Lev. R. xxiii. 4; Cant. R. ii. 2): R. Eleazar visited a certain place where he was invited to lead the people in prayer, but he avowed inability to do so. "What!" cried the astonished people; "is this the celebrated R. Eleazar? Surely he deserves not to be called 'Rabbi'!" Eleazar's face colored with shame, and he repaired to his teacher Akiba. "Why art thou so crestfallen?" inquired Akiba; whereupon Eleazar related his unpleasant experience. "Does my master wish to learn?" asked Akiba; and, on receiving Eleazar's affirmative answer, Akiba instructed him. Later, Eleazar again visited the scene of his mortification, and the people again requested him to lead them in prayer. This time he readily complied with their request, whereupon the people remarked, "R. Eleazar has become unmuzzled" (, from = "to muzzle"), and they called him "Eleazar Hasma" (compare Geiger, "Schriften," iv. 343). The hero of this anecdote is doubtless the subject of the present article, and not, as is generally assumed, Eleazar Ḥisma. The latter was never Akiba's pupil. Indeed, he was Akiba's senior, and in the account of a halakic discussion between him and Eleazar b. Azariah and Akiba, his name precedes that of Akiba (Neg. vii. 2; Sifre, Deut. 16). Eleazar I. was an acknowledged disciple of Akiba, and the Midrashim explicitly state that he "went to Akiba, his teacher."
    • Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 275 et seq.;
    • Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i. 196 et seq.;
    • Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, pp. 173 et seq.;
    • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii., s.v.;
    • Weiss, Dor, ii. 164 et seq.;
    • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, pp. 45, 58.
  • Rabbi Nehemiah   

    Rabbi Nehemiah

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    Rabbinical Eras
    Rabbi Nehemiah was an Israelite mathematician, circa AD 150 (during the Tannaim era, Fourth Generation).
    He is attributed as the author of the Mishnat ha-Middot (ca. AD 150), making it the earliest known Hebrew text on geometry, although other historians assign to a later period by an unknown author. The Mishnat ha-Middot argues against the common belief that the Bible defines the geometric ratio π (pi) as being exactly equal to 3, based on the description in 1 Kings 7:23 (and 2 Chronicles 4:2) of the great bowl situated outside the Temple of Jerusalem as having a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits. He maintained that the diameter of the bowl was measured from the outside brim, while the circumference was measured along the inner brim, which with a brim that is one handbreadth wide (as described in 1 Kings 7:24 and 2 Chronicles 4:3) yields a ratio from the circular rim closer to the actual value of π.[1]
  • Rabbi Nathan
  • Joshua ben Karha  

    Joshua ben Karha

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    Rabbinical Eras
    Joshua Ben Karha (Hebrew: יהושע בן קרחה‎, Yehoshua ben Karcha), was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fourth generation, a colleague of Rabbi Meir and Shimon ben Gamliel II, and a disciple of Akiva ben Joseph. Some believe that he was Rabbi Akiva's son, so-named because karha means bald. Rabbi Akiva is referred to in the Talmud as the "kere'ah," the "bald-headed one."
    The Mishnah does not cite many of Ben Karha's halakhaic commentaries on his authority, and the few ones that are recorded, are either in context with him or in conjunction with another Tannaitic sage. Thus, in another reference, the Talmud cites Karha's halakhaic commentary, on the authority of Eleazar ben Azariah,[1] and in an additional reference, on the authority of R. Yochanan ben Nuri.[2] In this manner, he gave his Halakhaic ruling along with R. Jose ben Halafta, in the matter of the construction of Jericho.[3]
    In comparison with the few Halakhaic commentaries, there are many Aggadah commentaries that are cited on the authority of Joshua Ben Karha.
  • Abba Saul      
  • For the first Generation Tanna sage with a similar name, see Abba Saul ben Batnit.

    Tomb of Abba Saul and his wife
    Abba Saul (Hebrew: אבא שאול‎, Abba Shaul) was a fourth generation Tanna (Jewish sage). His elder contemporary was Akiva ben Joseph. Many Masoretes in the Talmud cite him engaging in the topics of the Temple in Jerusalem and the holy work done there.
    He was tall at sight, and the Talmud (Babylonian, Tractate "Niddah" 61a) depicts R. Tarfon reaching only up to R. Saul's shoulder. Saul was a grave-digger. (Babylonian, Tractate Niddah 24b)
    In the Talmud, Tractate "Yebamoth" (Levirate marriage), Abba Saul was stringent, and demanded that a levir (a "Yabbam", the brother of the deceased) should have pure-sacred intentions:
    "Abba Saul said, ‘If [a levir] married his sister-in-law on account of her beauty, or in order to gratify his desires, or with any other ulterior motive, it is as if he has infringed [the law of] incest; and I am even inclined to think that the child [from such a union] is a bastard [ Mamzer ]’."
    Babylonian Talmud, Tractate "Yebamoth", 109a
    Abba Saul opined that in his days there was nowhere to be found a levir with a mitzvah (commandment) intention, and thus he revokes the commandment of the yibbum, replacing it with the Halizah.
  • Yochanan HaSandlar  

    Johanan HaSandlar

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    Tomb of Johanan HaSandlar, Meron, Israel
    Johanan HaSandlar (lit. "Johanan the Shoemaker" or "Johanan the Sandalmaker", alternatively "Johanan the Alexandrian") (Hebrew: יוחנן הסנדלר‎) (c. 100 CE – c. 150 CE) was one of the main students of Rabbi Akiva and a contemporary of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He is one of the tannaim whose teachings are quoted in the Mishnah. The name "HaSandlar" may imply that Rabbi Yohanan earned his living as a shoemaker, but it could also indicate that he was a native of Alexandria, Egypt.[1]
    Rabbi Yochanan was a great-grandson of Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder; he also purportedly traced his ancestry back to King David.[2] Rashi, the great medieval commentator, was a 33rd-generation descendant of Rabbi Yochanan.
    He is well known for his saying in the Mishnah of Pirkei Avoth (4:14): "Every assembly that is for the sake of Heaven will survive; but if it is not for the sake of Heaven, it will not survive."
    He died on the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz (the same yahrzeit as that of Rashi), and was buried 200 meters from the tomb of Shimon bar Yochai in Meron,
  • Phinehas ben Jair   

    Phinehas ben Jair

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    Phinehas ben Jair (Hebrew: פנחס בן יאיר) was a Tanna of the 4th generation who lived, probably at Lydda, in the second half of the 2nd century. He was the father-in-law of Shimon bar Yochai and a fellow disciple of Judah I. He was more celebrated for piety than for learning, although his discussions with his son-in-law (Shab. 33b) evince great sagacity and a profound knowledge of tradition.[1]


    His piety

    An aggadah gives the following illustration of Phinehas' scrupulous honesty: Once two men deposited with him two seahs (a quantity) of wheat. After a prolonged absence of the depositors Phinehas sowed the wheat and preserved the harvest. This he did for seven consecutive years, and when at last the men came to claim their deposit he returned them all the accumulated grain (Deut. R. iii.).[1]
    Phinehas is said never to have accepted an invitation to a meal and, after he had attained his majority, to have refused to eat at the table of his father. The reason given by him for this course of conduct was that there are two kinds of people: (1) those who are willing to be hospitable, but can not afford to be so, and (2) those who have the means but are not willing to extend hospitality to others (Hul. 7b). Judah I once invited him to a meal, and exceptionally he decided to accept the invitation; but on arriving at the house of the patriarch he noticed in the yard mules of a certain kind the use of which was forbidden by local custom on account of the danger in handling them. Thereupon he retraced his steps and did not return (Hul. l.c.).[1]
    Special weight was laid by Phinehas upon the prescriptions relating to ma'aser (tithes). This feature of Phinehas' piety is described hyperbolically in the Aggadah. The latter relates a story of a mule belonging to Phinehas which, having been stolen, was released after a couple of days on account of its refusal to eat food from which the tithe had not been taken (Gen. R. xlvi.; comp. Ab. R. N. viii., end). To Phinehas is attributed the abandonment by Judah I of his project to abolish the year of release (Yer. Demai i. 3; Ta'an. iii. 1).[1]

    Account of His Own Times

    Phinehas draws a gloomy picture of his time. "Since the destruction of the Temple," he says, "the members and freemen are put to shame, those who conform to the Law are held in contempt, the violent and the informer have the upper hand, and no one cares for the people or asks pity for them. We have no hope but in God" (Sotah 49a). Elsewhere he says: "Why is it that in our time the prayers of the Jews are not heard? Because they do not know the holy name of God" (Pesik. R. xxii., end; Midr. Tch. to Ps. xci. 15). Phinehas, however, believes in man's perfectibility, and enumerates the virtues which render man worthy to receive the Holy Spirit. The Law, he says, leads to carefulness; carefulness, to diligence; diligence, to cleanliness; cleanliness, to retirement; retirement, to purity; purity, to piety; piety, to humility; humility, to fear of sin; fear of sin, to holiness; holiness, to the reception of the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, to resurrection (Ab. Zarah 20b; with some slight variants, Sotah ix. 15).[1]
  • Simeon Shezuri  

    Simeon Shezuri

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    Tomb of Simeon Shezuri, Sajur, Israel
    Simeon Shezuri (or R. Simeon of Shezur, Hebrew: שמעון שזורי‎, read as Shimon Shezuri) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fourth generation. His surname Shezuri, is either a variant of the Hebrew word Shezirah (שזירה), and thus stands for his livelihood: Spinning Fibers,[1] or for the village he resided at: Shezor[2] (probably in the vicinity of the Druze community "Sajur" and the modern moshav community "Shezor" that was established nearby). His work is recorded all across the Mishnah (particularly, Demai 4:1;[3] Shevi'it 2:8;[4] Gittin 6:5;[5] Hullin 4:5;[6] Keritot 4:3;[7] Keilim 18:1;[8] Tohorot 3:2;[9] and Tevul Yom 4:5[10])[11] and Talmud. As for his Halakhic rulings in accordance with Halakha, the Amora sages are divided;
    Some were in the opinion that:
    "wherever R. Simeon Shezuri stated his view, the halakha is in accordance with it"
    Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot, 30b[12] and Hullin, 75b[13][11]
    That is, according to some views, only when R. Simeon Shezuri's opinion is recorded in the Mishnah, and according to other views, even when his opinion is cited in the Baraita.
    Other Amora sages, such as R. Jonathan,[13] have ruled that his views are in accordance with the halakha only in two instances: writing a get (divorce document) for the dangerously ill,[5] and terumat hamaaser (a tithe [given to the Kohen]) on produce that belong to an "`am ha-aretz" - a "Demai tithe",[3] and so was ruled by the Rishonim sages.[14] Nonetheless, R. Shabbatai ha-Kohen has shown that there are additional instances where the Rishonim have ruled as Simeon Shezuri, yet not in all instances.[15]
    He was a pupil of R. Tarfon, and in one of the disputes over the 'Demai tithes', he cites the ruling R. Tarfon had given him when an event occurred to him.[16]
    The Talmud did not record anything on his personal life, except for one reference [17] where, according to a version noted by Abraham Zacuto,[18] Solomon Luria,[19] as well as in "Dikdukei Soferim", it is storied that the family of R. Simeon Shezuri were "House proprietors in the Upper Galilee", until they went bankrupt as a Heavenly punishment over their heedlessness on "Dinei mamon" (Halakhic property rights), by herding their sheep on other people's territory, and by giving rulings on "Dinei mamon" in the presence of only one "dayan" (Halakhic judge).

  • Rabbi Ishmael   

    Rabbi Ishmael

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    Rabbi Ishmael or Ishmael ben Elisha (90-135 CE, Hebrew: רבי ישמעאל) was a Tanna of the 1st and 2nd centuries (third tannaitic generation). A Tanna (plural, Tannaim) is a rabbinic sage whose views are recorded in the Mishnah.



    Ismael son of Elisha was a young boy during the destruction of the Temple. He was redeemed from captivity by Rabbi Neḥunya ben ha-Ḳanah, who Mesecheth Shabbat lists as his teacher. He was a close colleague of Rabbi Joshua. He is likely the grandson of the high priest of the same name.


    Ishmael's teachings were calculated to promote peace and goodwill among all. "Be indulgent with the hoary head;" he would say, "and be kind to the black-haired [the young]; and meet every man with a friendly mien" (Avot, iii. 12).
    What he taught he practised. Even toward strangers, he acted considerately. When a heathen greeted him, he answered kindly, "Thy reward has been predicted"; when another abused him, he repeated coolly, "Thy reward has been predicted." This apparent inconsistency, he explained to his puzzled disciples by quoting Gen. xxvii. 29: "Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee" (Yerushalmi Berakhot, viii. 12a; Gen. R. lxvi. 6).
    Ismael was fatherly to the indigent, particularly to poor and plain maidens, whom he clothed attractively and provided with means, so that they might obtain husbands (Nedarim, ix. 10; 66a). One Friday night, while absorbed in the study of the Bible, he inadvertently turned the wick of a lamp; and he vowed that when the Temple was rebuilt, he would offer there an expiatory sacrifice (Shabbat, 12b).
    R. Ishmael delayed Eleazar ben Damma from being cured in the name of Ben Pandera long enough for Eleazar to die without becoming associated with the minim.

    Views on marriage

    Ishmael manifested the same spirit of hope in declining to countenance the refusal of the ultra-patriotic to beget children under the Roman sway (Tosefta, Sotah, xv. 10; Bava Batra, 60b). Even under the conditions then existing, he recommended early marriage. He said, "The Scripture tells us, 'Thou shalt teach them [the things thou hast seen at Horeb] to thy sons and to thy sons' sons;' and how may one live to teach his sons' sons unless one marries early?" (Deuteronomy 4:9 Yerushalmi Kiddushin, i. 29b; Kiddushin 61a)

    Halakhic exegesis

    Ishmael gradually developed a system of halakhic exegesis which, while running parallel with that of Rabbi Akiva, is admitted to be the more logical. Indeed, he established the principles of the logical method by which laws may be deduced from laws and important decisions founded on the plain phraseology of the Scriptures. Like Akiva, he opened up a wide field for halakhic induction, but, unlike Akiva, he required more than a mere jot or a letter as a basis for making important rulings (Sanhedrin, 51b).
    Ishmael was of opinion that the Torah was conveyed in the language of man (Yerushalmi Yevamot, viii. 8d; Yerushalmi Nedarim, i. 36c), and that therefore a seemingly pleonastic word or syllable can not be taken as a basis for new deductions. In discussing a supposititious case with Akiva, he once exclaimed, "Wilt thou indeed decree death by fire on the strength of a single letter?" (Sanhedrin, 51b). The plain sense of the Scriptural text, irrespective of its verbal figures, was by him considered the only safe guide.

    Hermeneutic rules

    To consistently carry out his views in this direction, Ishmael formalized a set of 13 hermeneutic rules by which halakha was derived from the Torah. As a basis for these rules he took the seven rules of Hillel, and on them built up his own system, which he elaborated and strengthened by illustrating them with examples taken from the Scriptures (see Baraita of R. Ishmael; Talmud; comp. Gen. R. xcii. 7). Even these rules, he would not permit to apply to important questions, such as capital cases in which no express Scriptural warrant for punishment existed; he would not consent to attach a sentence of death, or even a fine, to a crime or misdemeanor on the strength of a mere inference, however logical, where no such punishment is clearly stated in Scripture (Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah, v. 45b), or to draw a rule from a law itself based on an inference (Yerushalmi Kiddushin, i. 59a). His rules were universally adopted by his successors, tannaim, as well as amoraim, although occasionally he himself was forced to deviate from them (see Sifre, Numbers, 32).
    Thus, his name became permanently associated with the halakha; but in the province of the Haggadah also, it occupies a prominent place (Mo'ed Katan, 28b). In answer to the question whether future punishment will be limited to the spirit or to the body, or whether in equity, any punishment at all should be inflicted on either, seeing that neither can sin when separated from the other, Ishmael draws this parallel:
    A king, owning a beautiful orchard of luscious fruit, and not knowing whom to trust in it, appointed two invalids—one lame, and the other blind. The lame one, however, tempted by the precious fruit, suggested to his blind companion that he ascend a tree and pluck some; but the latter pointed to his sightless eyes. At last the blind man raised his lame companion on his shoulders, and thus enabled him to pluck some of the fruit.
    When the king came, noticing that some fruit had disappeared, he inquired of them which was the thief. Vehemently asserting his innocence, each pointed to the defect which made it impossible for him to have committed the theft. But the king guessed the truth, and, placing the lame man on the shoulders of the other, punished them together as if the two formed one complete body. Thus, added Ishmael, will it be hereafter: soul and body will be reunited and punished together (Lev. R., iv. 5; compare Sanhedrin, 91a et seq.).
    Ishmael laid the foundation for the halakhic midrash on Exodus, the Mekhilta; and a considerable portion of the similar midrash, the Sifre on Numbers, appears also to have originated with him or in his school, known as "Debe R. Ishmael". Some suppose that he was among the martyrs of Betar (compare Avot of Rabbi Natan, xxxviii. [ed. Schechter, p. 56b]). The more generally received opinion, however, is that one of the martyrs, a high priest, was a namesake (Nedarim, ix. 10).
  • Eleazar ben Azariah    

    Eleazar ben Azariah

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    Grave of Eleazar ben Azariah, Galilee, Israel.
    Eleazar ben Azariah (Hebrew: אלעזר בן עזריה‎), was a 1st-century CE Palestinian tanna (Mishnaic sage). He was of the second generation and a junior contemporary of Gamaliel II, Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, and Joshua b. Hananiah, and senior of Akiva.[1][2] He was a kohen and traced his pedigree for ten generations back to Ezra,[3][4] and was very wealthy.[5][6] These circumstances, added to his erudition, gained for him great popularity. When Gamaliel II, in consequence of his provoking demeanor, was temporarily deposed from the patriarchate, Eleazar, though still very young, was elevated to that office by the deliberate choice of his colleagues. He did not, however, occupy it for any length of time, for the Sanhedrin reinstated Gamaliel. He was retained as vice-president ("ab bet din"), nevertheless, and it was arranged that Gamaliel should lecture three (some say two) Sabbaths, and Eleazar every fourth (or third) Sabbath.[7][8][9]


    Journey to Rome

    In company with Gamaliel, Joshua, and Akiva, he journeyed to Rome.[10][11] Neither the object of the journey nor the result of the mission is stated, but that affairs important as pressing were involved is apparent from the season at which the journey was undertaken: they celebrated Sukkot aboard the ship.[12][13] With the same companions Eleazar once visited the ruins of the Temple at Jerusalem.[14] On a visit to the aged Dosa b. Harkinas the latter joyfully exclaimed, "In him I see the fulfillment of the Scriptural saying:[15] 'I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread'",[16][17] The latter was amassed by dealing in wine, oil,[18][19] and cattle.[20][21] Subsequent generations entertained the belief that dreaming of Eleazar b. Azariah presaged the acquisition of wealth.

    His exegetic principle

    With Eleazar's accession to the patriarchate the portals of the academy were opened wide to all who sought admittance. It is said that three hundred benches had to be added for the accommodation of the eager throngs which pressed into the halls of learning. Under his presidency, too, a review of undecided points of law was undertaken. To Eleazar rabbinic homiletics owes the introduction of the rule called (סמוכין = "contiguous"), by which one Scriptural passage is explained or supplemented by another immediately preceding or succeeding it. Thus, Eleazar declares that the slanderer and the listener and the false witness deserve to be thrown to the dogs. He derives this idea from the juxtaposition of the expression,[22] "Ye shall cast it to the dogs," and[23] the prohibition against raising false reports, bearing false witness, and associating with the false witness.[24][25]
    In his homilies he generally aims to bring out some ethical or practical lesson.
  • With reference to the Day of Atonement the Bible says,[26] "On that day ... ye may be clean (Hebrew: תטהרו = "ye shall cleanse yourselves") from all your sins before the Lord." Therefrom Eleazar draws the lesson that the efficacy of the day extends only to sins against God, while sins against man are not forgiven unless the offended party has first been reconciled.[27][28]
  • The Bible says,[29] "Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian ... because thou wast a stranger in his land." Thereupon Eleazar remarks, "The Egyptians admitted the Israelites out of self-interest; nevertheless God accounts their act as one of merit. Now, if he who unintentionally confers a favor is accorded a token of merit, how much more so he who intentionally does a good deed".[30]
  • Similar is his deduction from Deuteronomy 24:19, which says, "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands." "Here," argues Eleazar, "the Bible promises blessings to him by whom a good deed is done unintentionally; hence if one unwittingly loses money, and a needy one finds it and sustains life thereon, God will bless the loser for it".[31][32]

Biblical interpretations

Eleazar was independent in his Biblical interpretations. He often rejected Akiva's opinions, remarking, "Even if thou persist the whole day in extending and limiting (see Hermeneutics), I shall not harken to thee",[33][34] or, "Turn from the Aggadah and betake thee to the laws affecting leprosy and the defilement of tents" (ואהלות נגעים;).[35][36] Above all, he strove to be methodical. When one applied to him for information on a Biblical topic, he furnished that; was he called upon to explain a mishnah, a halakah, or an aggadah, he explained each point. Eleazar was opposed to frequent sentences of capital punishment. In his opinion a court that averages more than one execution in the course of seventy years is a murderous court.[37]


In the following few sentences is comprised Eleazar's practical philosophy:[38][39]
  • "Without religion there is no true wisdom; without wisdom there is no religion. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of God; where there is no fear of God there is no wisdom. Where there is no discernment there is no learning; without learning there is no discernment. Where there is a want of bread, study of the Torah can not thrive; without study of the Torah there is a lack of bread."
  • "With what is he to be compared who possesses more knowledge than good deeds? With a tree of many branches and but few roots. A storm comes and plucks it up and turns it over. Thus also Scripture says,[40] 'He shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.' But what does he resemble who can show more good deeds than learning? A tree of few branches and many roots. Even should all the winds of heaven rage against it, they could not move it from its place. Thus, the Bible says,[41] 'He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit'"

Estimation by his colleagues

While he lived he enjoyed the glowing praise of his famous colleagues, who said, "That generation in which Eleazar b. Azariah flourishes can not be termed orphan";[42][43] and when he died the learned said, "With the death of R. Eleazar b. Azariah was removed the crown of the sages".[44][45][46]

Modern Critical Study

The traditions of Eleazar in rabbinic literature have been subjected to form analysis and literary criticism by Tzvee Zahavy. Using the critical methods developed by Jacob Neusner, Zahavy breaks apart the pericopae to isolate and describe the component parts of the tradition. He synthesizes and summarizes the results for the tradition as a whole to describe the formal, literary, and substantive traits of the Eleazar corpus.
Zahavy concludes regarding the best evidence about Eleazar from Mishnah and Tosefta that Eleazar's individual rulings and the pericopae in which he appears are integral to their literary and legal contexts. They fit the agenda of the chapters in which they appear. Eleazar, however, is not represented as a central authority in the formulation of the larger conceptions which underlie the law, nor do his traditions set the agenda of the law of Mishnah-Tosefta. Zahavy concludes that, "What we know of Eleazar thus is limited to the data that a few editors chose to preserve for the direct needs of their compilations. We have only brief glimpses of the whole tradition and the man. The thought and life of Eleazar remains... for the most part unknowable."
  • Jose the Galilean  

    Jose the Galilean

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    The tomb of Rabbi Yose HaGelili
    Jose the Galilean (Hebrew: יוסי הגלילי, Yose HaGelili) was a Jewish sage who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries of the common era. He was one of the Tannaim, the rabbis whose work was compiled in the Mishna. Jose was a contemporary and colleague of Rabbis Akiba, Tarfon, and Eleazar ben Azariah. Neither the name of his father nor the circumstances of his youth are known, though his name ("ha-Gelili") indicates that he was a native of Galilee. He suffered from the prejudice commonly held against the Galileans by the Judeans; on one occasion a woman who wanted to make a point with him began by calling him a "stupid Galilean".[1] When he entered the academy at Yavne, he was entirely unknown. It is also noted that he was extremely modest and addressed Tarfon as "my master".[2] He was, nevertheless, a thorough scholar even then, and his arguments nonplused both Tarfon and Akiba. His first appearance at Yavne thus obtained for him general recognition, and the two rabbis considered him not as a pupil, but as a colleague. Akiba was obliged to endure more than one sharp criticism from Jose, who once said to him: "Though thou expound the whole day I shall not listen to thee".[3] Tarfon expressed his high esteem of Jose by interpreting Daniel viii. 4-7 as though it contained an allusion to him: "I saw the ram, that is, Akiba, and saw that no beast might stand before him; and I beheld the he-goat, that is, Jose the Galilean, come, and cast him down to the ground."[4] As a matter of fact, Jose was the only one who opposed Akiba successfully, and the latter frequently abandoned his own interpretation in favor of his opponent's.[5] Jose frequently showed a tendency to revert to the older Halakha, explaining the text according to its literal meaning[6]
    Generally, though, his halakic exegesis differed little from that of Akiba, and both often employed the same rules of interpretation[7] He taught that poultry may be cooked in milk and eaten,[8] as was done in his own native town;[9] also that at the Passover one may enjoy anything that is leavened, except as food.[10] Of his haggadic opinions the two following may be mentioned: The command of the Torah that the "face of the old man" shall be honored[11] includes, by implication, the young man who has acquired wisdom[12] The words "He shall rule over thee"[13] do not refer to power of every description.[14]
    Jose's married life was unhappy. His wife was malicious and quarrelsome, and frequently insulted him in the presence of his pupils and friends; on the advice of the latter he divorced her. When she married again and was in straitened circumstances, he was magnanimous enough to support her and her husband.[15] Jose did have a son, Eliezer who followed in his father's footsteps and became a great rabbinic authority.
    Jose was famed, moreover, for his piety. An amora of the 3rd century says: "When, for their sins, there is drought in Israel, and such a one as Jose the Galilean prays for rain, the rain cometh straightway" (Yer. Ber. 9b). The popular invocation, "O Jose ha-Gelili, heal me!" survived even to the 10th century. This invocation is condemned by the Karaite Sahal ben Matzliah [16]
  • Eliezer ben Jose
  • Haninah ben Teradion 

    Haninah ben Teradion

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    Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion or Hananiah ben Teradion (Hebrew: חנניה בן תרדיון) was a teacher in the third Tannaitic generation (2nd century). He was a contemporary of Eleazar ben Perata I and of Halafta, together with whom he established certain ritualistic rules (Ta'anit ii. 5). He was one of the Ten Martyrs murdered by the Romans for ignoring the ban on teaching Torah.


    Life and work

    His residence was at Siknin, where he directed religious affairs as well as a school. The latter came to be numbered among the distinguished academies with reference to which a baraita says: "The saying (Deuteronomy 16:20), 'That which is altogether just shalt thou follow' may be construed, 'Follow the sages in their respective academies. ... Follow Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion in Siknin'" (Sanhedrin 32b). Haninah administered the communal charity funds, and so scrupulous was he in that office that once when money of his own, designed for personal use on Purim, chanced to get mixed with the charity funds, he distributed the whole amount among the poor. Eleazar ben Jacob II so admired Haninah's honesty that he remarked, "No one ought to contribute to the charity treasury unless its administrator is like Haninah ben Teradion" (Bava Batra 10b; Avodah Zarah 17b).
    Comparatively few halakot are preserved from him (Ta'anit ii. 5, 16b; Rosh Hashanah 27a; Tosefta, Miḳ. vi. 3; see also Yoma 78b; Menachot 54a). Haninah ingeniously proved that the Shekhinah rests on those who study the Law (Avodah Zarah iii. 2).
    Haninah's life proved that with him these were not empty words. During the Hadrianic persecutions decrees were promulgated imposing the most rigorous penalties on the observers of the Jewish law, and especially upon those who occupied themselves with the promulgation of that law. Nevertheless, Hananiah conscientiously followed his chosen profession; he convened public assemblies and taught Torah.
    Once he visited Jose ben Kisma, who advised extreme caution, if not submission. The latter said: "Haninah, my brother, seest thou not that this Roman people is upheld by God Himself? It has destroyed His house and burned His Temple, slaughtered His faithful, and exterminated His nobles; yet it prospers! In spite of all this, I hear, thou occupiest thyself with the Torah, even calling assemblies and holding the scroll of the Law before thee." To all this Haninah replied, "Heaven will have mercy on us." Jose became impatient on hearing this, and rejoined, "I am talking logic, and to all my arguments thou answerest, 'Heaven will have mercy on us!' I should not be surprised if they burned thee together with the scroll." Shortly thereafter Haninah was arrested at a public assembly while teaching with a Torah scroll before him. Asked why he disregarded the imperial edict, he frankly answered, "I do as my God commands me."
    For this he and his wife were condemned to death, and their daughter to degradation. His death was terrible. Wrapped in the scroll, he was placed on a pyre of green brush; fire was set to it, and wet wool was placed on his chest to prolong the agonies of death. "Woe is me," cried his daughter, "that I should see thee under such terrible circumstances!" Haninah serenely replied, "I should indeed despair were I alone burned; but since the scroll of the Torah is burning with me, the Power that will avenge the offense against the law will also avenge the offense against me."
    His heartbroken disciples then asked: "Master, what seest thou?" He answered: "I see the parchment burning while the letters of the Law soar upward."
    "Open then thy mouth, that the fire may enter and the sooner put an end to thy sufferings," advised his pupils. But Haninah replied, "It is best that He who hath given the soul should also take it away: no man may hasten his death." Thereupon the executioner removed the wool and fanned the flame, thus accelerating the end, and then himself plunged into the flames (Avodah Zarah 17b et seq.)
  • It is reported that, on hearing his sentence, Haninah quoted Deuteronomy 32:4, "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment"; while his wife quoted the second hemistich, "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he"; and his daughter cited Jeremiah 32:19, "Great in counsel, and mighty in work; for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Sifre, Deut. 307; Avodah Zarah loc. cit.; Semachot viii.).

    Notable family members

    Of the surviving members of Haninah's family are mentioned two daughters: the learned Bruriah, who became the wife of Rabbi Meir; and the one marked for degradation, whom Rabbi Meïr succeeded in rescuing (Avodah Zarah 18a).
    Haninah had also a learned son. It is related that Simon ben Haninah applied to this son for information on a point of ritual, and that the latter and his sister, presumably Bruriah, furnished divergent opinions. When Judah ben Baba heard of those opinions, he remarked, "Haninah's daughter teaches better than his son" (Tosefta, Kelim, Bava Kama iv. 17).
    Elsewhere it is reported of that son that he became a degenerate, associating with bandits. Subsequently he betrayed his criminal associates, wherefore they killed him and filled his mouth with sand and gravel. Having discovered his remains, the people would have eulogized him out of respect for his father, but the latter would not permit it. "I myself shall speak," said he; and he did, quoting Proverbs 5:11 et seq. The mother quoted Proverbs 17:25; the sister, Proverbs 20:17 (Lamentations Rabbah iii. 16; comp. Semachot xii.).

  • Johanan ben Baroka
  • Simon ben Zoma
  • Simeon ben Azzai
  • Onkelos
  • Hanina ben Antigonus
  • Hanina ben Hakinai 

    Hanina ben Hakinai

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    Rabbinical Eras
    Hanina ben Hakinai or Hanania ben Hakinai (Hebrew: חנינא בן חכינאי) was a Tanna of the 2nd century; contemporary of Ben 'Azzai and Simon the Temanite (Tosef., Ber. iv. 18; see Ḥalafta). Sometimes he is cited without his prænomen (Sifra, Emor, vii. 11; Shab. 147b).



    Who his early teachers were is not certainly known. From some versions of the Tosefta (l.c.) it appears that Tarfon was one of them, but that his regular teacher was R. Akiba. It is related that he took leave of his wife and attended Akiba 12 or 13 years without communicating with his family, whom he recovered in a remarkable way (Ket. 62b; Lev. R. xxi. 8). He was one of the few who, though not regularly ordained, were permitted to "argue cases before the sages" (דנין לפני חכמים: Sanh. 17b; comp. Yer. Ma'as. Sh. ii. 53d). Several halakot have been preserved in his name, owing their preservation to Eleazar b. Jacob II (Kil. iv. 8; Mak. iii. 9; Tosef., Ṭoh. vi. 3; Ḳid. 55b); and he also left some halakic midrashim (Sifra, Meẓora', v. 16; Sifra, Emor, vii. 11, comp. Shab. 110b; Men. 62b, comp. Sifra, Emor, xiii. 8).


    Hananiah also delved into the "mysteries of the Creation," concerning which he consulted R. Akiba (Ḥag. 14b); and he appears as the author of several homiletic remarks. According to him, God's relation to distressed Israel is expressed in Solomon's words (Prov. xvii. 17): "A brother is born for adversity"; by "brother" is understood "Israel," for it is elsewhere said (Ps. cxxii. 8): "For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee" (Yalḳ., Ex. 233; comp. Mek., Beshallaḥ, iii.). With reference to Lev. v. 21 (vi. 2) ("If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbor," etc.), he remarks, "No man lies [acts dishonestly] against his fellow man unless he first becomes faithless to God" (Tosef., Shebu. iii. 6). From a comparatively late date comes the statement that Hananiah b. Ḥakinai was one of the "ten martyrs" (see Zunz, G. V. 2d ed., p. 150; see also Masseket Aẓilut).

    Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • Yochanan ben Nuri
  • Eleazar Chisma
  • Elisha ben Abuyah
  • Rabbi Ilai I
  • Eleazar of Modi'im
  • Halafta
  • Haninah ben Ahi R. Joshua
  • Abtolemus
  • Jose ben Kisma


·  Admon

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