views updated


ILAI (end of third and beginning of fourth century c.e.), Palestinian amora. Ilai studied under R. Johanan in Tiberias and frequently transmits sayings in his name (Shab. 5a, et al.). He also studied under R. *Simeon b. Lakish (Shab. 28b, et al.), Eleazar (tj, Ter. 2:1, 41b, et al.), Ammi and Assi (tj, Git. 1:1, 43a, et al.), and others. His colleague Zeira called him "builder of the Torah" (tj, Yoma 3:5, 40c). Among Ilai's pupils were Jonah and Jose (tj, Ter. 2:4, 41d; tj, Ket. 11:7, 34c), and also Ravin who brought Ilai's teachings to Babylon and also sent Palestinian halakhot to Babylon in his name (Er. 96a; bb 144b, et al.). It was Ilai who transmitted the saying: "In Usha it was enacted that none should disburse more than a fifth of his possessions to charity" (Ket. 50a). Most of his statements belong to halakhah; aggadic ones are few. It is related of him that in their conversations he and Abbahu would indulge in enigmatic sayings which was called "the language of wisdom" (Er. 53b). In illustration of his consideration it is related that on one occasion he stayed late at the bet midrash on Friday evening. When on returning home he found everyone asleep, rather than awaken the members of his household he spent the night in the open (tj, Bezah 5:2, 63a). He apparently lived for a time in Tyre (Av. Zar. 13b). He is referred to by different names: Ilai, Ilaa, Ila, Hilah, and La.


Frankel, Mevo, 75b–76a; Hyman, Toledot, s.v.

[Zvi Kaplan]