Elhanan ben Shemariah

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ELHANAN BEN SHEMARIAH (d. 1026), head of the academy in Fostat (Old Cairo), Egypt, at the beginning of the 11th century. Elhanan studied at the Pumbedita academy during the gaonate of *Sherira with whom he later exchanged responsa as he did with the latter's son and successor *Hai, and *Samuel b. Hophni, head of the Sura academy. A number of Sherira Gaon's responsa to Elhanan are extant. Elhanan was honored by the title "the sixth" at the academy in Palestine. After the death of his father he became the head of the academy in Fostat. His academy received a grant from the royal treasury. When Caliph al-Ḥākim stopped this support, Elhanan turned for assistance to the Jewish communities, including those outside Egypt. It is believed that Elhanan wrote a talmudic commentary, and commentaries to the tractates Bava Kamma and Avodah Zarah have been attributed to him. His literary works, found in the Cairo * Genizah, include a poem against the *Karaites following *Saadiah Gaon's approach. From a fragment of a book of Arabic sermons attributed to him, it appears he also studied philosophy.


Poznański, in: Festschrift A. Harkavy (1908), 187–8 (Heb. pt.); Mann, Egypt, index; Mann, Texts, index: Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 9 (1937/38), 217–8; idem, Teshuvot ha-Ge'onim (1942), 114–6; Abramson, Merkazim, 105–55.

[Simha Assaf]

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Elhanan ben Shemariah

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