Abba Bar Zemina

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ABBA BAR ZEMINA (also Zimna, Zimona, Zevina ; fourth century), Palestinian amora. His father was probably the Zemina who acted as "elder" of the Jews of Tyre (tj, Bik. 3:3, 65d). Abba's principal teacher was Zeira. While working as a tailor in Rome, his employer offered him meat which had not been ritually slaughtered and threatened to kill him if he refused to eat it. When Abba chose death, his employer informed him that had he eaten, he would have killed him, saying, "if you are a Jew, be a Jew, if a Roman be a Roman" (tj, Shev. 4:2, 35a-b). The statement, "if our predecessors were as angels, we are as men; if they were men, we are as donkeys," is quoted by Abba b. Zemina in the name of Zeira (tj, Dem. 1:3, 21d; in Shabbat 112a, by Zeira in the name of Rabbah b. Zemina).


Frankel, Mevo, 56b-57; Bacher, Pal Amor; Hyman, Toledot, 44–45.

[Abraham Goldberg]