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Abba ben Abba Ha-Kohen


ABBA BEN ABBA HA-KOHEN (early third century), Babylonian scholar during the transition from the tannaitic to the amoraic period. Abba is overshadowed by his famous son Samuel, and therefore is always referred to in the Babylonian Talmud as "the father of Samuel" (cf. Beẓah 16b). He was a native of Nehardea and decided issues of Jewish law there (Ket. 23a). He subsequently emigrated to Palestine and continued his studies in the academy of R. Judah ha-Nasi (tj, rh 3:6, 59a; tj, bm 4:1, 9c). Even after his return to Babylon, he addressed halakhic inquiries to him and maintained contact with his grandson R. Judah Nesia. He was a colleague of R. Levi b. Sisi and their opinions are often cited together (Shab. 108b; mk 26b). Mention is made of a divine revelation granted to the two when they were studying Torah together in the ancient synagogue Shaf ve-Yativ in Nehardea (Meg. 29a). The Jerusalem Talmud (Ber. 2:8, 5c) quotes the funeral oration Abba delivered over his friend. When Rav returned to Babylon, he deferred to Abba by refusing to head the community during the latter's lifetime. Rav engaged in halakhic discussions with Abba, whom he highly respected (Ket. 51b). Abba derived his livelihood from trading in silk and also owned property. Highly charitable, he supported orphans and redeemed captives, and in all his actions attempted to go beyond the mere letter of the law.


Frankel, Mevo, 56ab; Hyman, Toledot, 11; Epstein, Mishnah, 211.

[Zvi Kaplan]

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