Dosa ben Harkinas

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DOSA BEN HARKINAS (first–second centuries c.e.), Palestinian tanna. He is often referred to without patronymic, parallel passages showing that the Dosa referred to is Dosa b. Harkinas (cf., e.g., Eduy. 3:3 and Ḥul. 11:2 et al.). Dosa saw the Second Temple and survived its destruction, living until the time of *Gamaliel and *Akiva, i.e., the second decade of the second century. In Temple times, he engaged in halakhic dispute with *Akaviah b. Mahalalel and *Ḥanina Segan ha-Kohanim (Neg. 1:4). In a dispute concerning matrimonial law between Hanan, one of the judges of civil law, and the "sons of the high priests" he decided according to the latter, in opposition to Johanan b. Zakkai, who agreed with Hanan. He is mentioned 11 times in the Mishnah but more frequently in the beraitot. In the Mishnah (rh 2:8) it is related that Rabban Gamaliel accepted the testimony of two witnesses that they had seen the New Moon, despite the fact that Dosa was of the opinion that they were false witnesses, a view in which Joshua b. Hananiah concurred. Gamaliel did not take any steps against Dosa b. Harkinas, perhaps because of his age and honored status, but he ordered Joshua "to appear before me with your staff and your money on the day which according to your reckoning should be the Day of Atonement." Dosa advised Joshua to obey the nasi, since "If we call in question the decisions of the bet din of Rabban Gamaliel, we must call in question the decisions of every bet din which has existed since the days of Moses up to the present time" (rh 2:8–9). During the days of Akiva and Eleazar b. Azariah, the sages heard that Dosa had permitted the levirate marriage of a woman whose co-wife was the daughter of the levir. This was in conformity with the opinion of Bet Shammai against that of Bet Hillel, who forbade levirate marriage in such a case. When the sages heard of this ruling, "they were very disturbed, because he was a great scholar and his eyes were dim so that he was unable to come to the bet midrash." It was decided that Joshua b. Hananiah, Eleazar b. Azariah, and Akiva should call upon him to discuss the matter. Dosa explained that he too was of the opinion that the halakhah was in accordance with Bet Hillel, and the "son of Harkinas" who had permitted it was not he but his brother Jonathan, who was a disciple of Shammai (Yev. 16a; tj, Yev. 1:6, 3a).

From a number of passages it appears that he was activein Jerusalem, but it is mentioned in the Tosefta (Mik. 6:2) that he appointed two scholars to investigate the ritual fitness of a *mikveh between Usha and Shefaram. Dosa's maxim in Avot (3:10) is "Morning sleep, midday wine, children's talk, and sitting in the assemblies of the ignorant, put a man out of the world" (Avot 3:10).


Frankel, Mishnah, index; Halevy, Dorot, 1 pt. 5 (1923), 219, 227, 340ff.; Hyman, Toledot, 322–4.

[Shmuel Safrai]