views updated


AḤERIM (Heb. אֲחֵרִים; lit. "others"), a pseudonym for sages whose teachings are quoted anonymously in the tannaitic literature. According to the Talmud (Hor. 13b, 14a), aḥerim was used as a pseudonym for R. *Meir so that his teachings would not be propounded under his name in the bet ha-midrash – this, in punishment for his attempt, together with R. *Nathan, to assail the dignity and authority of the nasi, *Simeon b. Gamalielii, and to remove him from office. The punishment, however, did not remain in force very long, the Talmud continuing that on one occasion Judah ha-Nasi, son of Simeon b. Gamaliel ii, was teaching a certain Mishnah to his son Simeon with the words, "aḥerim say," whereupon Simeon said to his father, "Who are they whose waters we drink but whose names we do not mention?" at which Judah deferred to his son's opinion and in place of "aḥerim say" stated explicitly, "On Rabbi Meir's behalf it is said" (ibid.). In point of fact, in the Mishnah, which Judah edited, the expression "aherim say" does not occur. The tosafists, however, have pointed out the difficulty in the identification of "aherim" with Meir, for in many passages the words "aḥerim say" occur in opposition to Meir's view. One tosafist suggested that only those teachings which Meir received from his teacher, *Elisha b. Avuyah, later called Aḥer, were introduced under this pseudonym. The tosafists themselves, however, found this explanation unsatisfactory, and suggested instead that those opinions which he changed after he was punished and referred to as aḥerim are cited under this pseudonym, while his earlier views appear under his own name (Tos., Sot. 12a).


Hyman, Toledot, 138.

[Zvi Kaplan]