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Avdan

AVDAN

AVDAN (also known as Avidan, Abba Dan, Abba Yudan ; c. 200 c.e.), pupil and amora ("interpreter") of *Judah ha-Nasi. Avdan lived in Ereẓ Israel during the transition from the tannaitic to the amoraic period (late second and early third centuries c.e.), and his duty was to convey to the student assembly the teachings which Judah ha-Nasi whispered to him (tj, Ber. 4:1, 7c). In the Talmud, some of his teacher's halakhot are cited in his name (Ber. 27b). The Talmud (Yev. 105b) describes an incident in which Avdan was involved. On one occasion R. *Ishmael b. Yose, who was rather corpulent, was still making slow progress to his seat in the academy of Judah ha-Nasi after the latter had already arrived, and the rest of the audience had already seated themselves. Avdan pointedly enquired, "Who is it that steps over the heads of the holy people (in order to get to his seat)?" The reply was "I am Ishmael ben Yose, come to learn Torah from Rabbi (Judah ha-Nasi)." Avdan then asked him, "And are you fit to learn Torah from Rabbi?" Ishmael continued the exchange by enquiring, "Was Moses worthy to learn from the Almighty?" "And are you Moses?" rejoined Avdan. "And is your master the Almighty?" retorted Ishmael. While this exchange was going on, a certain matter was brought before Judah ha-Nasi, and he sent Avdan to clarify an attendant point. Ishmael b. Yose, however, cited a ruling on the subject, which Judah ha-Nasi accepted, making Avdan's mission unnecessary. He thereupon instructed him to return to his place for which purpose he was obliged to make his way over the assembled students. Ishmael thereupon exclaimed, "He of whom the holy people have need may step over (their) heads, but how dare he of whom the holy people have no need step over (their) heads?" "Remain where you are!" said Judah ha-Nasi to Avdan. Legend relates that at that instant Avdan was stricken with leprosy and two of his sons were drowned. This led R. *Naḥman b. Isaac to comment: "Blessed be the All-Merciful, who put Avdan to shame in this world [so that his share in the world to come remains undiminished]."

bibliography:

Hyman, Toledot, 62.

[Zvi Kaplan]

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