Skip to main content

Jacob ben Korshai


JACOB BEN KORSHAI (second century), tanna. References in the Mishnah to "Jacob," without a patronymic, are to be identified with Jacob b. Korshai (or Kodshai) as is shown by the same Mishnah being attributed to "Jacob" in Avot 4:16 and to Jacob b. Korshai in Leviticus Rabbah 3:1. He is mentioned in disputes with pupils of Akiva, but was a disciple of Meir, and transmits halakhot in his name only (Tosef., Ma'as. Sh. 2:10; Yev. 102a etc.). Apart from the statements in his name in Avot, Jacob is mentioned only once more by name in the Mishnah (in a Ms. of Neg. 14:10), although several well-known and fundamental laws in the Mishnah are in accordance with his opinion (bk, 9:1; cf. tj, ibid., 6d; Ohol. 12:8; Tosef., ibid., 13:10). He is frequently mentioned, however, in the Tosefta and in other beraitot in the two Talmuds. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, Judah ha-Nasi was his outstanding disciple (tj, Shab. 10:5, 12c; tj, Pes. 10:1, 37b), and it is assumed that the material from Meir's Mishnah, which Judah incorporated in his Mishnah, was transmitted by Jacob, since Judah apparently did not study directly under Meir (Er. 13b).

Among his few aggadic statements are "This world is like a vestibule to the world to come – prepare yourself in the vestibule in order to enter the reception room" (Avot 4:16) and "One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than all of the next world, but better is one hour of tranquility in the next world than all of this world" (Avot 4:17). According to the aggadah of the Babylonian Talmud, Jacob was the "tanna" (i.e., the teacher of mishnayot) in the school of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, and once, when Jacob learned that on the following day Meir and Nathan were planning to depose Simeon from the office of nasi by putting questions to him on the tractate Ukẓin with which Simeon was not fully familiar, he proceeded immediately to teach the tractate (Hor. 13b) (but see: Goodblatt). Jacob is famous for the view that "there is no reward in this world for fulfilling mitzvot," interpreting the mention of tangible reward for the fulfillment of the commandments in Deuteronomy 5:16 and 22:7 as referring to the world to come (Tosef., Ḥul. 10:16). As a result of his position in this matter, the aggadot of both the Jerusalem Talmud (Ḥag. 77b) and the Babylonian Talmud (Ḥul. 142a; Kid. 39b) connect him indirectly with the figure of *Elisha b. Avuyah, who according to some legends became disillusioned as a result of the apparent lack of reward and punishment in this world, and so lost his faith in the Torah. In a late twist on this aggadah Rav Joseph even names Jacob as Elisha's grandson ("his daughter's son"), but there is no evidence, and it almost certainly reflects no more than the Babylonian Talmud's general inclination to posit family ties between characters in its aggadic narratives.


Bacher, Tann, s.v.; Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; J.N. Epstein, Mevo'ot le-Safrut ha-Tanna'im (1957), 191–3. add. bibliography: D. Goodblatt, in: Zion, 49 (1984), 349–74 (Hebrew).

[Shmuel Safrai /

Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Jacob ben Korshai." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 16 Jul. 2019 <>.

"Jacob ben Korshai." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (July 16, 2019).

"Jacob ben Korshai." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved July 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.