Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tannaim contd

  • Fifth Generation
  • Judah I 
    Judah the Prince, (Hebrew: יהודה הנשיא‎, Yehudah HaNasi) or Judah I, also known as Rabbi or Rabbenu HaQadosh (Hebrew: רבנו הקדוש‎, "our Master, the holy one"), was a 2nd-century CE rabbi and chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was a key leader of the Jewish community during the Roman occupation of Judea . According to the Talmud[1] he was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the title nasi, meaning prince.[2] The title nasi was also used for presidents of the Sanhedrin.[3] Judah died on 15 Kislev[citation needed]around 217CE.[4]
    Judah the Prince was born in 135 CE. According to the Midrash, he came into the world on the same day that Rabbi Akiva died a martyr's death.[5] The Talmud suggests that this was a result of Divine Providence: God had granted the Jewish people another leader of great stature to succeed Rabbi Akiva. His place of birth is unknown; nor is it recorded where his father, Shimon ben Gamliel II, sought refuge with his family during the persecutions under Hadrian. He is the only tanna known as Rabbeinu haQadosh, "our holy teacher" due to his deep piety.[6]
    Upon the restoration of order in the Land of Israel, Usha became the seat of the academy and Judah spent his youth there. His father presumably gave him the same education that he himself had received, including Greek language.[7] This knowledge of Greek enabled him to become the Jews' intermediary with the Roman authorities. He favored Greek as the language of the country over Syriac (Aramaic).[8] It is said that in Judah's house, only Hebrew was spoken, and even the maids spoke it.[9]
    "During Rabbi's career, not only did the scope of rabbinic jurisdiction increase, but the power of the central rabbinic office increased as well. In contrast with his predecessors, Rabbi assumed the responsibilities of a communal functionary by appointing and deposing local leaders and by checking the family purity of Jews in a distant locale. Similarly, he made unprecedented efforts to create a more popular halakhic system. In this vein, he permitted the use of produce immediately following the end of the sabbatical year, the import of produce into the Holy Land, and the acquisition of land from a sikarikon. Thus, while Rabbi strengthened his ties with the wealthy, he also broadened his power base by becoming a more popular figurehead."[10]
    According to the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10a-b), Judah haNasi was very wealthy and greatly revered in Rome. He had a close friendship with "Antoninus", possibly the Emperor Antoninus Pius, [11] though it is more likely his famous friendship was with Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus [12] who would consult Judah on various worldly and spiritual matters.
    The Talmud records the tradition that Judah haNasi was buried in the necropolis of Beit She'arim, in the Lower Galilee.[13]
  • Compiler of the Mishna

    According to Jewish tradition, God gave both the Written Law (Torah) and the Oral Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Oral Law is the oral tradition, as relayed by God to Moses and from him, transmitted and taught to the sages (rabbinic leaders) of each subsequent generation For centuries, the Torah appeared only as a written text transmitted in parallel with the oral tradition. Fearing that the oral traditions might be forgotten, Judah HaNasi undertook the mission of consolidating the various opinions into one body of law which became known as the Mishna. This completed a project which had been mostly clarified and organized by his father and Rabbi Natan. [14] The Mishna consists of 63 tractates codifying Jewish law, which are the basis of the Talmud.

    Talmudic legends

    Various stories are told about Judah haNasi to illustrate different aspects of his character. One of them begins by telling of a calf breaking free from being led to slaughter. According to the story, the calf tries to hide under Judah haNasi's robes, bellowing with terror, but he pushes the animal away, saying: "Go — for this purpose you were created." For this, Heaven inflicted upon him kidney stones, painful flatulence, and other gastric problems, saying, "Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him".
    The story remarks that when Judah haNasi prayed for relief, the prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf. Later he prevented his maid from violently expelling baby weasels from his house, on the basis that "It is written: 'His Mercy is upon all his works.'" For this, Heaven removed the gastric problems from him, saying, "Since he has shown compassion, let us be compassionate with him".
    Rabbi Judah HaNasi also said, "One who is ignorant of the Torah should not eat meat." This is because one who is ignorant is on the same level as animals. What, therefore, gives him the right to partake of them as food? Perhaps the punishment he received for lacking compassion towards the calf helped him to see that eating animals is not a matter that should be treated lightly.
    While teaching Torah, Rabbi Judah would often interrupt the lesson to recite the Shema prayer. He passed his hand over his eyes as he said it. (Berachot 13b).
    Before he died, Rabbeinu HaKadosh said: ‘I need my sons!... Let the lamp continue to burn in its usual place; let the table be set in its usual place; let the bed be made in its usual place.” (Kesubbos/Ketubot 103a)
    Rabbi Judah said: "Much have I learned from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but most from my students." [15]

    Post-Talmudic Legends

    Sefer Chassidim Sec. 1129. (Cf. Kesubbos/Ketubot 103a.) records that after his death Rabbeinu HaKadosh used to visit his home, wearing Shabbos (Shabbat) clothes, every Friday evening at dusk. He would recite Kiddush, and others would thereby discharge their obligation to hear Kiddush. One Friday night there was a knock at the door. "Sorry," said the maid, "I can't let you in just now because Rabbeinu HaKadosh is in the middle of Kiddush." From then on Rabbeinu HaKadosh stopped coming, since he did not want his coming to become public knowledge.

  • Huna Kamma 
    Huna Kamma (Aramaic/Hebrew: הונא קמא, lit. Huna I); was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth generation of the Tannaim era. He was an Exilarch, head of the Jewish exile in Babylon, during the days of Judah haNasi who contemporaneously was active in the Land of Israel, during the fifth generation of the Tannaim. He is a descendant of the House of David, and was recorded on the Talmud merely as R. Huna, which caused confusion between him and the Amora sage of the second generation, that was recorded on the Talmud with the same name, and was known to be a disciple of Abba Arika, and thus R. Sherira Gaon referred to him, on his epistle (Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon), as Huna Kamma [1] (Kamma in Aramaic = the first), in order to distinguish him form the Amora sage of the second generation, and thereafter, the Achronim and Geonim sages began referring to him in the same appellation as well.
    Judah haNasi who contemporaneously was active in the Land of Israel, and was president ("Nasi") of the Sanhedrin, located at the time in the Galilee, a position that was considered at the time the most ranked one in the Land of Israel, had asked R. Hiyya, concerning his obligation to "Korban Nasi" (leader's sacrifice) over sins he might have, a question that basically meant whether he had the status of a king or not (and on the non-practical level, since the Temple in Jerusalem was at the time in ruins to be sacrificing any). R. Hiyya replied:
    "You have your rival in Babylon".
    —B. Talmud, Tractate Horayoth, 11b
    Rival or as in Hebrew צרה, which lit. means trouble, is a biblical phrase used to describe the "other woman";[2] hence, the most ranked position is held by two people, accordingly "Nasi" and "Exilarch" are equal in their status, and consequently, you are not the sole leader, which would have meant you are obliged to sacrifice a king's offering, or enjoy such a status.
  • Jose b. Judah   


    Tanna of the end of the second century. He is principally known through his controversies with R. Judah I. As specimens of his exegeses, the following may be given here. On the expression (Lev. xix. 36) he comments, "Let thy yea be yea and thy nay nay" (Sifre to the verse; B. M. 49a; comp. Matt. v. 37). Deut. viii. 5 he explains thus: "Dear to God are the afflictions destined for man, for on whomsoever they come, the glory of God reposes, as it is said, 'It is the Lord thy God who chastiseth thee'" (Sifre, Deut. vi. 5). As characteristic of his poetical mind, the following may be cited as his view on the repose and peacefulness of the Sabbath: "Two angels, a good and a bad one, accompany man on the Sabbath eve from the synagogue into his house. When the man finds the lamp lit, the table laid, and the bed made, the good angel prays, 'May it be Thy will, O Lord, that it be the same next Sabbath!' to which the evil angel, against his will, responds 'Amen!' If, however, the man finds his house in disorder, the wicked angel says, 'May it be the same next Sabbath!' to which the good angel is forced to respond 'Amen!'" (Shab. 119b).
    Of a controversial nature is probably the saying in which Jose insists that the proselyte must show his readiness to accept even the precepts of the sages in their capacity as interpreters of the Law (see Tosef., Demai, ii. 5; Sifra, Lev. xix. 34). Jose, like his father, Judah b. 'Ilai, and through the teachings of his father, was the depositary of many old traditions, which appear in his name.
    • Weiss, Dor;
    • Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 417-421.
  • Ishmael ben Jose   
    Ishmael ben Jose (Hebrew: רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי‎, read as Rabbi Ishmael beRabbi[Son of Rabbi] Yossi) was a Tanna of the beginning of the 3rd century, son of Jose ben Halafta. Ishmael served as a Roman official together with Elazar ben Simon, and was instrumental in suppressing the hordes of Jewish freebooters that had collected during the war between Severus and Pescennius Niger (193). His activity in this direction was greatly resented by the Jews, who never forgave him for handing over fellow Jews to the Roman authorities for execution (Bava Metzia 84a). In halakic literature he is known by his citations of his father's sayings which he transmitted to Judah I, with whom he read Lamentations and the Psalms (Lam. Rab. ii. 420; Midr. Teh. iii. 1). He had a wide knowledge of the Scriptures, and could write down from memory the whole of the Bible (Yer. Meg. 74d).
  • Social interactions

    Ishmael b. Jose was not on good terms with the Samaritans. On one occasion, when he was passing through Neopolis[disambiguation needed] on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Samaritans jeeringly invited him to pray on Mount Gerizim instead of on "those ruins [Jerusalem]"; Ishmael retorted that the object of their veneration was the idols hidden there by Jacob (Gen. R. lxxxi.; comp. Gen. xxxv. 4). Sanh. 38b would indicate that he also had occasional passages with Christians.
    As a judge, Ishmael was noted for absolute integrity (Mak. 24a). His modest bearing called forth high praise from his master. The treasures of Tyre shall be "for them that dwell before the Lord" (Isa. xxiii. 18) refers, said R. Judah, to Ishmael b. Jose and to others who, like him, consider themselves as of little account, but for whom some day a greater glory waits (Eccl. R. i. 7). The following gives an instance of his timely wit: Compelled to say something agreeable about a very ugly woman, he in vain sought ground for a compliment, until he learned that her name was "Liḥluḥit" (the dirty one). "Ah!" said he, "there is something beautiful about her—her name, which suits her uncommonly well."
    His haggadic interpretation of למנצח מזמור (Ps. iii.) may be given as an example of his method of exegesis. He explains it to mean "a psalm to Him who causes man to conquer himself." "Sing a psalm to Him who feels a great joy in being conquered. Come and behold! God's way is not man's way. One who is defeated is depressed, but God rejoices in being conquered, as seen in Psalm cvi. 23, where the joy of the Lord is expressed at the fact that Moses, His chosen one, was victorious in his mediation for Israel" (Pes. 119a; see Rashi ad loc.)
  • Eleazar b. Simeon   
    Eleazar b. Simeon (or Eleazar ben Simeon or R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon; Hebrew: אלעזר ברבי שמעון‎, lit. Eleazar beRabbi[son of Rabbi] Shimon, or רבי אלעזר בן שמעון , lit. Rabbi Eleazar ben [son of] Shimon) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth generation, contemporary of R. Judah haNasi. He is also the son of R. Shimon bar Yochai. During his youth he was wanted by the Roman government, but later on worked on behalf of the Roman government as a security and public order commissioner. There are various legendary stories concerning his unusual physical size. Towards the end of his life he chose to be tormented by pain. The traditional stories concerning his death are shrouded in various legendaries.
  • Simeon ben Eleazar     Simeon ben Eleazar (or Simeon b. Eleazar; Hebrew: שמעון בן אלעזר‎, read as Shimon ben Eleazar) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fourth generation, and one of Rabbi Meir's disciples. He is cited in the Mishnah merely few times, but on the Tosefta and Baraitas' portions that are quoted in the Talmud his name is mentioned many times. In many of the classical texts of the Baraita, in matters in dispute, he has stated a different version to these diputes cited in the Mishnah. He is most likely the son of R. Eleazar ben Shammua.[1] Maimonides, when he enumerated the generations of the Tannaim sages, had reversed the order, and placed R. Simeon ben Eleazar as a contemporary of R. Akiva ben Joseph, whereas placing R. Meir in the following generation. R. Yom Tov Asevilli claims that there were two different Tanna sages with the same name of Simeon ben Eleazar, one in the previous generation to R. Meir, and the other in the following generation to R. Meir, and in that he had resolved the maze of Maimonides' statement.[2]
  • Eleazar ha-Kappar  
    Eleazar ha-Kappar (Hebrew: אלעזר הקפר‎, or אליעזר בן הקפר , read as Eliezer ben ha-Kappar, or אלעזר בן הקפר, read as Eleazar ha-Kappar) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth and last generation of the Tannaim era. He was a colleague of Judah haNasi, and was in the company of him occasionally. He spent most of his life at ancient Katzrin. The Mishnah cites him only once, in Pirkei Avot 4:21, where he states that, "Jealousy, lust, and honor remove a man from the world". Despite the infrequency of his citations in the Mishnah, one can learn a lot on his characteristics and activities from the Tannaim Deuterocanonical books. He had negated the Monasticism phenomenon, and condemned the over self boastfulness of mankind. He loved the Land of Israel and lived in it, and saw peace as a principal value. One can learn of these values from his work:
  • "There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Israel, and no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Israel."
  • "Hakham residing in Eretz Israel, and went out of the land, harmed himself"
  • "The synagogues and Beth midrashs in Babylonia will in the time to come be planted in Eretz Israel."
  • "Great is peace, for all blessings conclude with peace."
An important Archaeology finding that was discovered at a Mosque in "Kfar Devora" was a frame-head decorated with two Birds of prey, holding Nosegay in their Beaks. The frame-head bears the inscription:
"זה בית מדרשו שהלרבי אליעזר הקפר"
("This is the Beth midrash [houses of learning] of Rabbi Eliezer ha-Kappar")
This is the only source from the era of the Tannaim that the term "Beth midrash" is cited. The frame-head is exhibited at the Golan Archaeological Museum in Katzrin.
  • Symmachus ben Joseph   
    Symmachus ben Joseph [1] (or Symmachus or Summakhos;[2] Hebrew: סוּ‏מָ‏כוֹ‏ס בן יוסף‎,[3] read as Sumchus ben Yosef, or in short סוּ‏מָ‏כוֹ‏ס, read as Sumchus) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth generation. Rabbi Meir is considered his Teacher par excellence,[4] and Symmachus has cited many of his sayings. The most known one was:
    "These are the words of Symmachus who said that 'money, which is in doubt - is to be shared' [by the parties].[5]"
    "The Sages, however, disagrees with him: it is a fundamental principle in law: 'He who claims what is [in the possession] of another, the onus probandi falls on him' [the claimant].[6]"
    Talmud, Tractate Bava Kamma, 46a
    Symmachus was considered a Talmid Chacham, wise student Torah scholar, as it was said about him:
    "R. Abbahu stated in the name of R. Johanan: R. Meir had a disciple of the name of Symmachus who said, on every rule concerning a ritual uncleanness, there are forty-eight reasons in support of its uncleanness, and on every rule concerning a ritual cleanness, forty-eight reasons in support of its cleanness."
    Talmud, Tractate Erubin, 13b
    After his teacher R. Meir had died, and despite R. Judah ben Ilai's reluctance to teach R. Meir's disciplines, who were considered "scolding" students, Symmachus managed to get enrolled into R. Judah ben Ilai's class and debate him over Halakha matters.
  • Issi ben Judah   
    Issi ben Judah (Hebrew: איסי בן יהודה‎, "Issi ben Yehuda", also known as Issi Ha-babli, lit. "Babylonian Issi"), was a Tanna of the latter part of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century. He made Aliyah from Hutzal, Babylon, to the Land of Israel, and thus was also nicknamed "Issi Ha-Babli" or "Jose the man of Hutzal". He was a disciple of Eleazar ben Shammua.
    He is known for his positive rabbinical opinion on "You shall rise in the presence of the aged" (Leviticus 19:32), that in other rabbinical sages opinions is said only of an elderly Talmid Chacham, and in his opinion is said of any aged.
    His opinions regarding culpability for sabbath transgressions and regarding anyone's right to eat from another's vinyard were recorded in the so-called Meggilat Setarim (Scroll of Hidden Things). However, in both cases his opinion is rejected by the Rabbis.[1]
  • Bar Kappara      
    Shimon Bar Kappara (Hebrew: בר קפרא‎) was a Jewish rabbi of the late 2nd and early 3rd century CE, during the period between the tannaim and amoraim. He was active in Caesarea in the Land of Israel, from around 180 to 220 CE. His name, meaning “Son of Kapparah”, was taken from his father, Eleazar ha-Kappar. He was one of the students of Rebbi, and an Amora of the first generation.
    He was a talented poet and storyteller, and it is said that at the wedding feast of Simeon, the son of Rabbi, he kept the guests captivated with fables until their food got cold. The Jerusalem Talmud contains a prayer he wrote and included in the repetition of the 18th section of Thanksgiving in the Amidah. However, his satirical wit (he once ridiculed the son-in-law of Rebbi by telling him to ask Rebbi a riddle that really was an insulting criticism of Rebbi’s household), lost him the chance to be ordained.

    He was unusual in his time for recommending the study of Greek, which was commonly rejected as the language of the heathens. He is reported as saying to his disciples (Gen. R. 36:8): “Let the words of Torah be said in the language of Japheth [Greece].” He also encouraged the study of the natural sciences, saying “Whosoever can calculate the movements of the solstices and planets, but fails to do so, to him is applied the verse ‘But they regard not the works of the Lord’." (Shabbat 75a) (Isaiah 5:12)
  • Jose ben Zimra  
    R. Jose ben Zimra (or R. Jose b. Zimra; Hebrew: רבי יוסי בן זמרה) was Jewish Tanna of the sixth generation of the Tannaic era, during the transition period between the Tannaim Jewish sages era and the Jewish Amoraim sages era. He came from a privileged background family and his son married Judah haNasi's daughter.[1] Some are in the opinion that he was a descendant of King David.[2] Most of his papers deal with the Aggadah, and most of them were delivered by his pupil Eleazar ben Pedat, in the name of Zimra.
  • Levi ben Sisi     
    Levi ben Sisi or Levi bar Sisi (Sisyi, Susyi, Hebrew: לוי בר סיסי) was a Jewish scholar, disciple of the patriarch Judah I, and school associate of his son Simeon (Ab. Zarah 19a); one of the semi-tannaim of the last decades of the 2nd century and of the early decades of the 3rd century.
    Levi ben Sisi assisted Judah in the compilation of the Mishnah and contributed baraitot (Yoma 24a). Many of Levi's baraitot were eventually embodied in a compilation known as Ḳiddushin de-Be Levi (Ḳid. 76b; B. B. 52b). In the Babylonian Talmud Levi is seldom quoted with his patronymic, and neither in that nor in the Jerusalem Talmud nor in the Midrashim is he quoted with the title of "Rabbi". Keeping this in mind, the student of rabbinics will easily determine whether passages written under the name "Levi" without a patronymic must be credited to Levi bar Sisi or to a younger namesake who is almost always cited as "R. Levi" (see Levi II). But although Levi bar Sisi is not given the title "Rab," he was highly esteemed among the learned, and in many instances where an anonymous passage is introduced with the statement למדין לפני חכמים (= "it was argued before the sages") it is to be understood that the argument referred to was advanced by Levi before Judah I (Sanh. 17b; comp. Men. 80b; Me'i. 9b; see Rashi and Tos. ad loc.).
    Judah I later spoke of Levi bar Sisi as of an equal. But the latter did not always succeed in impressing the public. At the request of a congregation at Simonias to send it a man who could act at once as lecturer, judge, superintendent of the synagogue, public scribe, and teacher, and attend to the general congregational affairs, Judah I sent Levi. When, however, Levi entered on office he signally failed to satisfy the first requirement. Questions of law and of exegesis were addressed to him, and he left them unanswered. The Simonias congregation charged the patriarch with having sent it an unfit man, but the patriarch assured it that he had selected for it a man as able as himself. He summoned Levi and propounded to him the questions originally propounded by the congregation; Levi answered every one correctly. Judah thereupon inquired why he did not do so when the congregation submitted those questions; Levi answered that his courage had failed him (Yer. Yeb. xii. 13a; comp. Yeb. 105a; Gen. R. lxxxi. 2). A late midrash speaks of him as a Biblical scholar and good lecturer (Pesiḳ. xxv. 165b).
    After Judah's death Levi retired with Ḥanina b. Ḥama from the academy, and when Ḥanina received his long-delayed promotion Levi removed to Babylonia, whither his fame had preceded him
    (Shab. 59b; see Ḥanina b. Ḥama). He died in Babylonia, and was greatly mourned by scholars. In the course of a eulogy on him delivered by Abba bar Abba it was said that Levi alone was worth as much as the whole of humanity (Yer. Ber. ii. 5c).
  • Rabbi Bana'ah    
    R. Bana'ah [1](Hebrew: בנאה‎; or R. Benaiah, Hebrew: בניה‎, both derived from the word בניה, Benaia ('bniya'), lit. construction or building; Also known as הצדיק הלבן, "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan", lit. 'the white saint (Tzadik)') was a Jewish sage living in the 3rd century, during the intermediate period between the Tannaim and the Amoraim sages' eras.
    He was named as such because after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem he engaged in the construction of the ruins of Jerusalem. He was also known as "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan" ('The white saint'), because it is storied that when the governor of the Jews had predestined predestination upon them to use only black chickens for the Kapparot ritual act instead of white chickens, as was customary at the time, they, for lack of any other option, bought black chickens, and went to pray on R. Bana'ah's grave, and when they returned, they found the black chickens they bought - turned white. Ever since he was also known as either "Tzadik ha-Tarnegolot" ('The chickens saint') or "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan" ('The white saint').
    His most known saying is:
    "R. Banna'ah used to say: Whosoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake his learning becomes an elixir of life to him, for it is said (Proverbs, 3:18), 'It is a tree of life to them that grasp it'; and it is further said , 'It shall be as health to thy navel' ; and it is also said (Proverbs,8:35), 'For whoso findeth me findeth life' . But, whosoever occupies himself with the Torah not for its own sake, it becomes to him a deadly poison, as it is said (Deuteronomy, 32:2), 'My doctrine shall drop as the rain', and ‘arifa‘ surely means, death, as it is said (Deuteronomy, 21:4), 'And they shall break [we'arfu] the heifer's neck there in the valley'."
    Talmud, Tractate "Taanit", 7a [2]
  • Simeon b. Menasya   
    Simeon ben Menasya (Hebrew: שמעון בן מנסיא) was a Jewish tannaic sage of the fourth and fifth generations of the Jewish Tannaic era. He used to divide his day into three parts, one-third devoted to study of Torah, one-third devoted for prayer, and the remaining third devoted to work. He established along with Jose b. Meshullam a group called Kehala Kaddisha (Hebrew: עדה קדושה) that would engage in the same activity-practice for the day.[1]


    1. Jump up ^ Beitzah 27a
  • Yadua the Babylonian 
    Yadua the Babylonian (Hebrew: ידוע הבבלי‎, translit: Yadua HaBavli) was a 2nd-century tanna of the fifth generation. He was born in Babylonia but subsequently moved to Syria Palæstina, becoming the pupil of Rabbi Meir,[1][2] a prominent rabbi[3] and student of the Acher (Elisha ben Avuyah), one of the leading tannaim who became a heretic.[4]
  • Yadua the Babylonian said in the name of Rabbi Meir: "If [two dogs came] from one direction they do not count as an unavoidable accident, but if [they came] from two directions they count as an unavoidable accident." (Mishnah Baba Metziah 7:9)
  • Joshua ben Levi   
    Joshua ben Levi or Yehoshua ben Levi was an amora (Rabbi of the Talmud) who lived in the land of Palestine of the first half of the third century. He headed the school of Lydda in the southern Land of Palestine. He was an elder contemporary of Johanan bar Nappaha and Resh Lakish, who presided over the school in Tiberias. (Genesis Rabbah 94.) With Johanan bar Nappaha, Joshua often engaged in homiletic exegetical discussions (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 116a; Megillah 27a; Shevuot 18b). It is uncertain whether the name "ben Levi" meant the son of Levi, whom some identify with Levi ben Sisi, or a descendant of the tribe of Levi. (Grätz, "Gesch." 4:263; Frankel, "Mebo," 91b; Weiss, "Dor," 3:60; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." 1:124.)
    Rabbi Joshua ben Levi studied under Bar Kappara, whom he often quoted. But Joshua considered his greatest indebtedness to Rabbi Judah ben Pedaiah, from whom he learned a great number of legal rulings. (Exodus Rabbah 6; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:7; Genesis Rabbah 94.) Another of his teachers was Phinehas ben Jair, whose piety and sincerity must have exerted a powerful influence upon the character of Joshua. Joshua himself had a gentle disposition. He was known for his modesty and piety, and whenever he instituted public fasting and prayer, it was said that his appeals were answered. (Jerusalem Talmud Taanit 66c.)
    His love of peace prevented him from making any attacks against the theology of the minim (heretics). He was tolerant, though they often annoyed him. And he forbore cursing one of them, pronouncing rather Psalm 145:9, "God's mercies extend over all His creatures." (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 7a; Avodah Zarah 4b.) His love of justice and his concern that the innocent might suffer on account of the guilty (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 19b) led him to speak against the custom then prevailing of removing from office a reader who, by omitting certain benedictions, had aroused the suspicion of heresy. (Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 9c.)


    Representative position

    Joshua devoted much of his time to furthering the public welfare. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:7.) His wealth, and his alliance to the patriarchal family through the marriage of his son Joseph (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 33b), must have added to his authority. He was recognized as a representative of Palestinian Jewry, for he was found in company with his friend Rabbi Hanina interceding on behalf of his people before the proconsul in Caesarea, who accorded Joshua and his colleague much honor and respect. (Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 9a.) On another occasion, when the city of Lydda was besieged because a political fugitive had found refuge there, Joshua saved the city and its inhabitants by surrendering the refugee. (Jerusalem Talmud Terumot 46b; Genesis Rabbah 94.) He also made a journey to Rome, but his mission is not known. (Genesis Rabbah 33.) Although Rabbi Joshua was connected through family ties with the patriarchal house, and always manifested his high esteem for its members (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 33b), it is largely due to him that the friendship between the southern schools and the patriarchal house diminished. (For evidence that such friendship once existed, see Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 65b; Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 32a.) Joshua was the first to ordain fully his own pupils in all cases where ordination was requisite (Babylonian Talmud Nedarim 42b), thus assuming a power that hitherto had lain in the hands of the head of the Sanhedrin alone.
    In the field of legal interpretation, Joshua was of considerable importance, his decisions being generally declared valid even when disputed by his contemporaries Rabbi Johanan and Resh Lakish. He was lenient, especially in cases where cleanliness and the preservation of health were involved. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 121b; Jerusalem Talmud Yoma 44d.) Joshua devoted himself to the elucidation of the Mishnah. And his own legal interpretations resemble in their form and brevity the writings of the Tannaim in the Mishnah.
    In homiletic exegesis (aggadah), however, he was even more influential. He had a high opinion of that study, and he explained Psalm 28:5, "the works of God," as referring to homiletic exegesis. (Midrash Tanhuma 28:5.) Similarly in Proverbs 21:21, he identified "glory" (kavod) with homiletic exegesis. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 9b.) There is also a reference to a book ("pinkes") by Joshua ben Levi which is presumed by some to have presented haggadic themes (Weiss, "Dor," p. 60); but this can not be well reconciled with Joshua’s disparaging of the writing down of homiletic exegesis. (Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 15c; Midrash Tehillim 22:4; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." 1:129, against Weiss, "Dor," 3:60, who assumes that the "pinkes" was the work of another rabbi of the same name.)
    Nonetheless, homiletic exegesis occupied an important place in the teaching of Rabbi Joshua. His disciples and contemporaries quoted many such propositions in his name.
    As an exegete, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi was of some importance, his interpretations often enabling him to deduce legal rulings. Some of his explanations have been accepted by later commentators. (See, e.g., Abraham ibn Ezra and others on Exodus 15:1

His maxims

Joshua ben Levi’s emphasis of study was seen when he spoke of God as saying to David (Psalm 84:11) that "better" in God’s sight is "one day" of study in the Law "than a thousand" sacrifices (Babylonian Talmud Makkot 10a; Midrash Tehillim 122:2.) Though learning was of paramount importance (Babylonian Talmud Megillah 27a), still he also insisted on piety. He said that those who attends the synagogue service morning and evening will have their days prolonged (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 8a), and those who move their lips in prayer will surely be heard. (Leviticus Rabbah 16; Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 9d). He instituted a number of rules regulating the reading of the Law in the synagogue on weekdays (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 8a) and other matters relating to the service, many of which are to this day observed in synagogues. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 39b.)
Some of Joshua's philosophical and theological opinions are recorded. Speaking of the attributes of God, he represented God as "great, mighty, and awe-inspiring" (Deut. 10:17). (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 69b; Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 11c; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 74c.) He conceived the relation between Israel and God as most intimate, and he expresses it in the words, "Not even a wall of iron could separate Israel from his Father in heaven." (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 85b; Sotah 38b.) In his doctrine of future reward and punishment, paradise will receive those who have performed the will of God, while the nether world becomes the habitation of the wicked. (Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 19a). In Psalm 84:5 he found Biblical authority for the resurrection of the dead (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 91b), and in Genesis Rabbah 26 he expressed the liberal view that immortality is the portion not only of Israel, but of all other nations as well. In a legend, Joshua inquired of the Messiah when he was coming, and Elijah answered that it will be when Israel heeds God's voice (Psalm 95:7.) (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 98a.) In another connection, he spoke of the futility of estimating the time of the coming of the Messiah (Midrash Tanhuma 9:1; Leviticus Rabbah 19.)

In legend

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi was a favorite hero in legend. He was often made to be the companion of Elijah in the latter's wanderings on earth. (Pesikta 36a.) See, for example, ***The Messiah at the Gates of Rome. He also had legendary dealings with the Angel of Death. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 51a.) While yet alive, he was permitted to visit paradise and the nether world, and he sent a description of what he saw there to Rabban Gamaliel through the submissive Angel of Death. (Derek Eretz Zuta 1.) Many of the legends relating to Joshua have been collected in separate small works entitled "Ma'aseh de-Rabbi Yehoshua' ben Lewi" and "Masseket Gan 'Eden we-Gehinnom."

  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. i. 124-194;
  • Frankel, Mebo, p. 91b;
  • Grätz, Gesch. iv. 263;
  • Hamburger, R. B. T. ii. 520;
  • Weiss, Dor, iii. 59;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 610-612.

The Messiah at the Gates of Rome

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"The Messiah at the Gates of Rome" is a traditional story, Mashal or parable in the Jewish tradition, from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a.



Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (who lived in the first half of the third century), while meditating near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, was visited by the Prophet Elijah. "When will the Messiah come?" asked Joshua. "Ask him," replied the Prophet. "The Messiah is at the gates of Rome, sitting among the poor, the sick and wretched. Like them, he changes the bindings of his wounds, but does so one wound at the time, in order to be ready at a moment's notice."
Then Joshua went to Rome and met the Messiah and greeted him, saying "peace upon thee, Master and Teacher" and the Messiah replied "peace upon thee, O son of Levi." Joshua then asked "When will you be coming?" and was told "Today!". Joshua went back to Elijah and was asked what the Messiah said. 'Peace upon thee, O son of Levi', Joshua replied, and Elijah told him that that meant that he and his father would have a place in the world to come. Joshua then said that the Messiah had not told him the truth, because he had promised to come today but had not. Elijah explained "This is what he said to thee, To-day, if ye will hear his voice", a reference to Psalms 95:7, making his coming conditional with the condition not fulfilled.[1][2][3]


Medieval Jews saw the story as possibly anti-Roman, and Rashi interpreted 'Rome' as meaning not the physical city but the part of paradise overlooking Rome. This neutralised and spiritualised the story and reconciled it with legends of the Messiah being carried alive to paradise.
Later, Samuel Eidels went further and suggested that Rome wasn't mentioned at all as 'de Romi' should be read 'deromi', southern, referring to the Messiah being found in the southern part of paradise.
In the early 16th century the Kabbalist Abraham ben Joseph ha-Levi suggested that the 'Rome' in the story was a small town in Galilee with the same name, and a bit later Moshe Alshich put the Messiah in paradise overlooking this town. Concern about being seen as anti-Roman also led to translations of the Talmud replacing the word 'Rome' in this story to 'the city', 'Karta'.[4]


  • Midrash Tanhuma 9:1
  • Leviticus Rabbah 19
  • Pesikta 36a


  1. Jump up ^ Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 98a
  2. Jump up ^ Schwartz, Howard, Caren Loebel-Fried, & Elliot K. Ginsburg. Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism Oxford University Press US, 2004 ISBN 0-19-508679-1, ISBN 978-0-19-508679-9 ; p. 492
  3. Jump up ^ Bruce, Frederick Fyvie. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1990; ISBN 0-8028-2514-1, ISBN 978-0-8028-2514-8 ;p. 99
  4. Jump up ^ Berger, Abraham "Captivity at the Gate of Rome: the story of a Messianic Motif", Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 44 (1977), pp. 1-17
Fourth Generation
  • Shimon ben Gamaliel (II)    
    Simeon (or Shimon) ben Gamliel II (Hebrew: רבן שמעון בן גמליאל השני) was a Tanna of the third generation and president of the Great Sanhedrin. Shimon was a youth in Betar when the Bar Kokhba revolt broke out, but when that fortress was taken by the Romans he managed to escape the massacre (Gittin 58a;[1] Sotah 49b;[2] Bava Kamma 83a;[3] Yer. Ta'anit 24b[4]). On the restoration of the college at Usha, Shimon was elected its president, this dignity being bestowed upon him not only because he was a descendant of the house of Hillel, but in recognition of his personal worth and influence.[5] His traditional burial location is in Kfar Manda in the Lower Galilee.[citation needed]


    There were many children in his family, one-half of whom were instructed in the Torah, and the other half in Greek philosophy (Gittin 58a;[1] Sotah 49b;[2] Bava Kamma 83a;[3]). Shimon himself seems to have been trained in Greek philosophy; this probably accounts for his declaring later that the Scriptures might be written only in the original text and in Greek (Meg. 9b;[6] i. 8;[7] Yer. Meg. 71c[8]). Shimon appears to have studied natural science as well, for some of his sayings betray a scientific knowledge of the nature of plants and animals, while others concern the anatomy of the human body and the means of avoiding or of curing disease (Ber. 25a,[9] 40a;[10] Shab. 78a,[11] 128b;[12] Yeb. 80b;[13] Ket. 59b,[14] 110b[15]). It is not known who were his teachers in the Halakah; he transmits sayings of R. Judah bar Ilai (Tosef., Kelim, B. Ḳ. v. 4),[16] of R. Meir (Shab. 15b;[17] B. M. 106b;[18]Yer. Ket. vi. 7 [19]), and of R. Jose bar Ḥalafta (Tosef., Dem. iii. 15;[20] Tosef., Ṭoh. xi. 16). The last-named was honored as a teacher by Shimon, who addressed questions to him, and put many of his decisions into practice (Suk. 26a; Tosef., Dem. iii. 14).[5]
    During Shimon's patriarchate the Jews were harried by daily persecutions and oppressions. In regard to these Shimon observes: "Our forefathers knew suffering only from a distance, but we have been surrounded by it for so many days, years, and cycles that we are more justified than they in becoming impatient" (Cant. R. iii. 3). "Were we, as of yore, to inscribe upon a memorial scroll our sufferings and our occasional deliverances therefrom, we should not find room for all" (Shab. 13b).[5]
     Jewish internal affairs were more firmly organized by Shimon ben Gamaliel, and the patriarchate attained under him a degree of honor previously unknown. While formerly only two persons, the nasi and the ab bet din, presided over the college, Shimon established the additional office of "ḥakam", with authority equal to that of the others, appointing R. Meir to the new office. In order, however, to distinguish between the dignity of the patriarchal office and that attaching to the offices of the ab bet din and the ḥakam, Shimon issued an order to the effect that the honors formerly bestowed alike upon the nasi and the ab bet din were henceforth to be reserved for the patriarch (nasi), while minor honors were to be accorded the ab bet din and the ḥakam. By this ruling Shimon incurred the enmity of R. Meir, the ḥakam, and of R. Nathan, the ab bet din (Hor. 13b). Shimon had made this arrangement, not from personal motives, but in order to increase the authority of the college over which the nasi presided, and to promote due respect for learning. His personal humility is evidenced by his sayings to his son Judah I, as well as by the latter's sayings (B. M., 84b, 85a).[5]
     In halakic matters Shimon inclined toward lenient interpretation of the laws, and he avoided adding to the difficulties attending their observance. In many instances in which an act, in itself not forbidden by Biblical law, had later been prohibited merely out of fear that it might lead to transgressions, Shimon declared it permissible, saying that "fear should not be admitted as a factor in a decision" (Shab. 13a, 40b, 147b; Yoma 77b; B. M. 69b; Bek. 24a; Pes. 10b). Of his halakic opinions about 30 relating to the Sabbath regulations and 15 referring to the seventh year "shebi'it") have been preserved, in nearly all of which the liberality of views is evident. He always took into consideration the common usage, and he often maintained that the ultimate decision must follow common tradition (Ket. vi. 4;[21] B. M. vii. 1; B. B. x. 1). The habits of the individual must also be considered (Ta'an. 30a).[5]
    In his regulations regarding the legal relations of man and wife he made it an invariable rule to protect the rights and the dignity of the latter in preference to those of the former (Ket. v. 5,[22] vii. 9, xiii. 10). He endeavored to protect the slaves and secure to them certain rights (Giṭ. 12b, 37b, 40b). The will of the community is more important than the interests and rights of the individual, and the latter must be sacrificed to the former (Ket. 52b; Giṭ. 37b). He especially strove to maintain the authority of the magistrates; according to his opinion the decisions of a court of law must be upheld, even though a slight error has been made; otherwise its dignity would suffer (Ket. xi. 5).[5]
    Shimon's decisions are mostly founded on sound common sense and an intimate acquaintance with the subjects treated, and, with three exceptions (B. B. 173b; Giṭ. 74b; Sanh. 31a), his views, as set forth in the Mishnah, have been accepted as valid (Giṭ. 75a). He often cites the conditions of the past, which he learned probably from the traditions of his house, and which are highly important for the knowledge of older customs and habits. He speaks of the earlier festive celebrations in Jerusalem on the Fifteenth of Ab and on the Day of Atonement (Ta'an. iv. 8); of the customs followed there at meals when guests were present (Tosef., Ber. iv. 9 et seq.); of the work on the pools of Siloah (Arakhin 1b); of the nature of the marriage contract (Tosef., Sanh. vii. 1) and the bill of divorce (Tosef., Giṭ. ix. 13).[5]

    As Haggadist

    Several of Shimon's haggadic sayings and decisions also have been preserved. "Great is peace, for Aaron the priest became famous only because he sought peace" ("Pereḳ Ha-shalom"; comp. Mal. ii. 6). "Justice must be accorded to non-Jews as to Jews; the former should have the option of seeking judgment before either a Jewish or a pagan court" (Sifre, Deut. 16 [ed. Friedmann, p. 68b]). Shimon praised the Samaritans for observing more strictly than did the Israelites such commandments of the Torah as they recognized (Ḳid. 76a). The Scripture is in many places to be understood figuratively and not literally (Sifre, Deut. 25 [ed. Friedmann, p. 70a]). "It is unnecessary to erect monuments to the pious; their sayings will preserve their memories" (Yer. Sheḳ. 47a; Gen. R. lxxxii. 11).[5]

  • Judah bar Ilai   

    Judah bar Ilai

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    Tomb of Judah bar Ilai, Ein Zeitim, Israel.
    Judah bar Ilai, also known as Judah ben Ilai, Rabbi Judah or Judah the Palestinian (Hebrew: יהודה בר מערבא‎, translit: Yehuda bar Ma'arava, lit. "Judah of the West"), was a 4th generation tanna of the 2nd Century and son of Rabbi Ilai I. Of the many Judahs in the Talmud, he is the one referred to simply as "Rabbi Judah" and is the most frequently mentioned sage in the Mishnah.[1]
    Judah bar Ilai was born at Usha in the Galilee. His teachers were his father, who had studied with Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiba. He was ordained by Rabbi Judah ben Baba at a time when the Roman government forbade ordination. Judah bar Ilai was forced to flee Hadrian's persecution.
    Obadiah of Bartenura visiting his tomb wrote in 1495:
    "About as far from Safed as one may walk on a Sabbath is the grave of the talmudic master Rabbi Judah bar Ilai; and there is a little village there called Ein Zetim. On the grave is a handsome tomb at which candles are lit..." [2]
    Italian pilgrim Moses Basola (1523) wrote:
    "They say that once a Muslim woman climbed the tree on the grave in order to gather almonds, upon which the other women told her to first ask the saint's permission. But she showered them with curses. She fell off the tree, breaking all her limbs. She then pledged the gold bracelets on her hands to the saint, purchasing olive trees with them. Subsequently others made pledges as well, and at present he [the saint] has four hundred olive trees. This episode of the woman took place about sixty years ago."[3]

    Sources of his teaching

    Judah taught the Mishnah of Eliezer, which he had received from his father (Men. 18a),
    In his interpretation of the Scriptures and in the deduction of legal requirements from it Judah adhered strictly to the method of his teacher Rabbi Akiba.
    Many of Judah's maxims and proverbs have likewise been preserved; they include:
  • "Great is beneficence: it quickeneth salvation" (B. B. 10a).
  • "Great is toil: it honoreth the toiler" (Ned. 49b).
  • "Who teacheth his son no trade, guideth him to robbery" (Ḳid. 29a).
  • "The best path lies midway" (Ab. R. N. xxviii.).
Judah lived to a ripe old age, surviving his teachers and all of his colleagues. Among his disciples who paid him the last honors was Judah ha-Nasi.


  1. ^ Drew Kaplan, "Rabbinic Popularity in the Mishnah VII: Top Ten Overall [Final Tally] Drew Kaplan's Blog (5 July 2011).
  2. ^ Kurt Wilhelm (1948). Roads to Zion: four centuries of travelers' reports. Schocken Books. p. 20. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  3. ^ Moses ben Mordecai Basola; Avraham Daṿid (31 December 1999). In Zion and Jerusalem: the itinerary of Rabbi Moses Basola (1521-1523). Department of Land of Israel Studies of Bar-Ilan University. p. 65. ISBN 978-965-222-926-7. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  • Jose ben Halafta     
    Rabbi Jose ben Halafta or Yose ben Halafta (Hebrew: רבי יוסי בן חלפתא) was a Tanna of the fourth generation (2nd century CE). Jose was a student of Rabbi Akiba and was regarded as one of the foremost scholars of halakha and aggadah of his day. He was a teacher and mentor to, among other notables, Judah ha-Nasi and thus is prominently mentioned in the Mishnah, being the fifth most frequently mentioned sage in the Mishnah.[1] Of the many Rabbi Yose's in the Talmud, Yose Ben Halafta is the one who is simply referred to as Rabbi Yose.



    Of Jose's life only the following details are known: He was born at Sepphoris; but his family was of Babylonian-Jewish origin.[2] According to a genealogical chart found at Jerusalem, he was a descendant of Jonadab ben Rechab.[3] He was one of Akiba's five principal pupils, called "the restorers of the Law,"[4] who were afterward ordained by Judah ben Baba.[5] He was, besides, a pupil of Johanan ben Nuri, whose halakhot he transmitted[6] and of Eutolemus.[7] It is very likely that he studied much under his father, Halafta, whose authority he invokes in several instances.[8] But his principal teacher was Akiba, whose system he followed in his interpretation of the Law.[9] After having been ordained in violation of a Roman edict,[10] Jose fled to Asia Minor,[11] where he stayed till the edict was abrogated. Later he settled at Usha, then the seat of the Sanhedrin. As he remained silent when his fellow pupil Simeon bar Yohai once attacked the Roman government in his presence, he was forced by the Romans to return to Sepphoris,[12] which he found in a decaying state.[13] He established there a flourishing school; and it seems that he died there.[14] Jose's great learning attracted so many pupils that the words "that which is altogether just shalt thou follow"[15] were interpreted to mean in part "follow Jose to Sepphoris".[16] He was highly extolled after his death. His pupil Judah ha-Nasi said: "The difference between Jose's generation and ours is like the difference between the Holy of Holies and the most profane."[17]


    His halakot are mentioned throughout the greater part of the Mishnah, as well as in the Baraita and Sifra. His teaching was very systematic. He was opposed to controversy, declaring that the antagonism between the schools of Shammai and Hillel made it seem as if there were two Torahs.[18] For the most part, Jose adopted a compromise between two contending halakhists.[19] Like his master Akiba, Jose occupied himself with the dots which sometimes accompany the words in the Bible, occasionally basing his halakot on such dots.[20] He was generally liberal in his halakic decisions, especially in interpreting the laws concerning fasts[21] and vows.[22] In those cases where there was a difference of opinion between Jose and his contemporaries, it was Jose's decision that was adopted as the norm for the practise.[23]

    Bible Chronology

    Jose was also a prominent haggadist; and the conversation which he had with a Roman matron, resulting in her conviction of the superiority of the Jewish religion,[24] shows his great skill in interpreting Biblical verses. Jose is considered to be the author of the Seder Olam Rabba, a chronicle from the creation to the time of Hadrian, for which reason it is called also known as "Baraita di Rabbi Jose ben Halafta."[25] This work, though incomplete and too concise, shows Jose's system of arranging material in chronological order.
    Jose is known for his ethical dicta, which are characteristic, and in which he laid special stress on the study of the Torah.[26] He exemplified Abtalion's dictum, "Love the handicrafts";[27] for he was a tanner by trade,[28] and followed a craft then commonly held in contempt.[29] A series of Jose's ethical sayings in Shabbot (118b) shows his tendency toward Essenism. As has been said above, Jose was opposed to disputation. When his companion Judah desired to exclude Meïr's disciples from his school, Jose dissuaded him.[30] One of his characteristic sayings is, "He who indicates the coming of the Messiah, he who hates scholars and their disciples, and the false prophet and the slanderer, will have no part in the future world."[31] According to Bacher[32] this was directed against the Hebrew Christians.
    Owing to Jose's fame as a saint, legend describes him as having met Elijah.[33] Jose, complying with the levirate law, married the wife of his brother who had died childless; she bore him five sons: Ishmael, Eleazar, Menahem, Halafta (who died in his lifetime), and Eudemus.[34]
  • Rabbi Jonathan    

    Rabbi Jonathan

    Rabbi Jonathan (Hebrew: רבי יונתן, Rabi Yonatan) was a Palestinian tanna of the 2nd century and schoolfellow of R. Josiah, apart from whom he is rarely quoted. Jonathan is generally so cited without further designation; but there is ample reason for identifying him with the less frequently occurring Jonathan (or Nathan) b. Joseph (or "Jose"; comp. Mek., Yitro, Baḥodesh, 10, with Sifre, Deut. 32; Mek., Ki Tissa, 1, with Yoma 85b; Tosef., Niddah, ii. 2, Ket. 60b, and Yer. Soṭah vii. 19c).

    Life and Teachings

    In consequence of the Hadrianic religious persecutions he determined to emigrate from Palestine, and with several other scholars started on a journey to foreign parts. But his patriotism and innate love for the Holy Land would not permit him to remain abroad (Sifre, Deut. 80). Jonathan and Josiah were educated together at the academy of Ishmael ben Elisha (Men. 57b), whose dialectic system, as opposed to that of Akiba, they acquired. It is even reported that Jonathan all but converted Ben Azzai, a "fellow student" of Akiba, to Ishmael's system, and made him deeply regret his failure to study it more closely. Ben 'Azzai then exclaimed, "Woe is me that I have not waited on Ishmael" (Ḥul. 70b et seq.). Nevertheless, in later years, probably after Ishmael's death, both Jonathan and Josiah adopted some of Akiba's principles. Of Jonathan it is expressly stated that "he followed the system of his teacher Akiba" (Yer. Ma'as. v. 51d).
    Together, Jonathan and Josiah devoted their analytical minds to halakic midrashim, interpreting laws as they understood them from the corresponding Scriptural texts, but not suggesting them. Only one halakah unconnected with a Scriptural text bears their names. Their argumentations are mostly embodied in the Mekilta (about thirty) and in the Sifre to Numbers (over forty; see D. Hoffmann, Zur Einleitung in die Halachischen Midraschim, p. 38). Neither Jonathan nor Josiah appears in Rebbi's compilation of the Mishnah, with the exception of a single sentence, in the name of Jonathan, in Abot iv. 9: "Whoso observes the Law in poverty shall live to observe it in affluence; and whoso neglects the Law in affluence shall at last be compelled to neglect it because of poverty" (comp. Ab. R. N. xxx. 1 [ed. S. Schechter, pp. 41b, 45a]). Of other ancient compilations, the Tosefta cites these scholars once (Tosef., Sheb. i. 7: the text has "Nathan," but the context shows unmistakably that "Jonathan" is meant), while the Sifra mentions them twice (Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 5, 11) by their names; once (Sifra, Behar, i. 9; comp. Ket. 60b) "Jonathan ben Joseph" occurs; and some of R. Josiah's midrashim are cited, but anonymously (comp. Sifra, Wayiḳra, Ḥobah, xx. 8, with B. M. 54a; Sifra, Aḥare, iv. 9, with Yoma 57b).
    Jonathan was the author of many aphorisms, among which is the following: "Consoling the mourner, visiting the sick, and practical beneficence bring heavenly grace into the world" (Ab. R. N. xxx. 1). Contrary to the astrological views of his times, Jonathan taught the Scriptural idea of natural phenomena; quoting Jer. x. 2, he added: "Eclipses may frighten Gentiles, but they have no significance for Jews" (Mek., Bo, 1; comp. Yalḳ., Ex. 188). To the question as to the permissibility of profaning the Sabbath to save human life he answered, "The Law says (Ex. xxxi. 16), 'The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations'; but one may profane one Sabbath in order to preserve a man that he may observe many Sabbaths" (Mek., Ki Tissa; comp. Yoma 85b). According to him an 'Am ha-Areẓ is one who has children and does not train them in the knowledge of the Law (Soṭah 22a; comp. Ber. 47b). Jonathan contradicted the general opinion of earlier and of contemporaneous rabbis that a "rebellious son" as defined by the teachers of traditional law never was and never will be executed, and that communal apostasy never did and never will occur; he declared that he himself had sat on the grave of an executed prodigal and had seen the ruins of a city which had been razed to the ground for general apostasy (Sanh. 71a).

    Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 351 et seq.;
  • N. Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i. 153;
  • Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 146;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.;
  • Weiss, Dor, ii. 126
  • Rabbi Meir (and wife Bruriah)
  • Simeon bar Yochai
  • Eleazar ben Shammua
  • Rabbi Nehemiah
  • Rabbi Nathan
  • Joshua ben Karha
  • Abba Saul
  • Yochanan HaSandlar
  • Phinehas ben Jair
  • Simeon Shezuri

  • Rabbi Ishmael 

    Rabbi Ishmael

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Rabbinical Eras
    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).

    External links

  • Ishmael B. Elisha Jewish Encyclopedia article


  • Eleazar ben Azariah
  • Jose the Galilean
  • Eliezer ben Jose
  • Haninah ben Teradion  

    Haninah ben Teradion

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Rabbinical Eras
    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.).

    Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i.397;
  • Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i.140;
  • Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 133;
  • Hamburger, R. B. T. ii.132;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 32a.

External links

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

    Hanina ben Hakinai

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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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

  • W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 436;
  • Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i. 148;
  • Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 136;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, pp. 36a, 65b

External links


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