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Mar Bar Rav Ashi


MAR BAR RAV ASHI (d.c. 468), Babylonian amora. Mar was the son of *Ashi. According to one passage he signed his name in a letter "Tavyomi" (bb 12b), Mar apparently being a title of honor. He is extensively quoted in the Babylonian Talmud. He possessed great authority, and according to a tradition found in Rashi (to Ḥul. 76b) the halakhah follows him except in two cases. He studied under his father, who headed the famous academy of Mata Meḥasya, near Sura. On the death of Ashi, Mar stayed on under his successor Maremar (Ber. 45b). His companions were Ravina (the younger, Ber. 36a), Judah b. Maremar, and Aḥa of Difti (Ber. 45b). In 455 he became head of the academy after competing for the post with *Aḥa. The aggadah describes his appointment as an example of prophecy having been given to fools. Mar was standing in the manor of Mahoza when he heard a lunatic exclaim: "The man to be elected head of the academy of Mata Meḥasya signs himself Tavyomi." He quickly went to Mata Mehasya and arrived in time to sway the voting in his favor (bb 12b). The aggadah also relates that Mar had great knowledge of the ways of demons and great power over them (Ḥul. 105b). Sherira Gaon in his letter reports that in the time of Mar, King Yezdegerd iii, who was hostile to the Jews, was swallowed by a dragon while he was in his bed (ed. by B.M. Lewin (1921), 95). Mar had a brother Sama and a sister, and a dispute between them over the bequest of their father was arbitrated by Ravina (Ket. 69a). He was a wealthy man (Git. 7a). He was succeeded by Rabbah Tosfa'a.


Bacher, Trad, index; Hyman, Toledot, 897–9; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 445f. add. bibliography: A. Cohen, "Mar Bar Rav Ashi and his Literary Contribution" (Hebrew) (Ph.D. Dissertation, Yeshiva University (1980)).

[David Joseph Bornstein]

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