Eleazar ben Parta
ELEAZAR BEN PARTA
ELEAZAR BEN PARTA (c. early 2nd century c.e.), tanna. He is mentioned only once in the Mishnah (Git. 3:4), and four times in the Tosefta. In one of his homilies, he warns against evil speech by pointing out that if the spies (Num. 12) who spoke evil only of trees and stones (ibid. 13:32) "died by the plague before the Lord" (ibid. 14:37), how much greater must be the punishment of the one who speaks evil of his neighbor (Tosef., Ar. 2:11; Ar. 15a).
In the Babylonian Talmud he is described as one of the sages arrested by the Romans for the capital offense of contravening Hadrian's decree forbidding the public teaching of Torah and observance of the commandments. While in prison, he tried to comfort Hananiah b. Teradyon, a fellow prisoner, by pointing out that while the latter only faced one charge, he himself faced five and was therefore certainly doomed. Hananiah, however, replied that for this very reason Eleazar was more worthy of Divine salvation. Hananiah's tragic death and Eleazar's miraculous deliverance proved the truth of these words (Av. Zar. 17b).
In a late Midrash (Num. R. 23:1), Eleazar shows his ability to deduce practical lessons from scriptural texts. In reply to the query of some prominent coreligionists of Sepphoris as to the legality of flight from their Roman persecutors on the Sabbath, Eleazar, not wishing to commit himself by giving them a direct answer, said: "Why do you ask me? Go and ask Jacob, Moses, and David," and referred them to biblical verses which mention distinguished leaders who had fled.
Hyman, Toledot, 200f.; Bacher, Tann.