Johanan Ha-Sandelar

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JOHANAN HA-SANDELAR (first half of the second century c.e.), tanna, one of the last pupils of *Akiva (Ber. 22a; Gen. R. 61:3). Johanan's surname may mean "the sandal-maker," though it has been suggested that his surname reflects his place of origin ("of Alexandria") and not his profession (tj, Ḥag. 3:1). Johanan is mentioned a number of times in the Mishnah and in the Tosefta, mainly discussing halakhah with the pupils of Akiva or transmitting it in his name. He is also mentioned in a tannaitic story, together with Eleazar b. Shammua, which relates that they "were on the way to Nisibis to Judah b. Bathyra to learn Torah from him, but when they reached Sidon and remembered the land of Israel, they raised their eyes, their tears flowed down, and they rent their garments … and said: dwelling in Ereẓ Israel is equal to all the precepts of the Torah, and so returned to their own place" (Sif. Deut. 80). The aggadah tells that when Akiva was imprisoned after the Bar Kokhba War for teaching Torah, the sages sent Johanan to him to obtain an answer to a problem arising from the harsh realities of those days – as to whether *ḥaliẓah is valid if not executed before the bet din. Johanan pretended to be a peddler and by this ruse was able to bring the answer from the prison that it was valid (tj, Yev. 12:5). Similarly, Johanan is enumerated among the scholars who convened in the valley of Bet Rimmon in order to revive the study of Torah and communal life after the persecutions had abated (tj, Ḥag. 3:1). His favorite maxim was: "Every assembly which is for the sake of Heaven will in the end be established, and every assembly which is not for the sake of Heaven will not in the end be established" (Avot 4:11).


Bacher, Tann, 2; Hyman, Toledot, s.v.

[Shmuel Safrai /

Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]