Skip to main content

Savora, Savoraim


SAVORA, SAVORAIM (Aram. סָבוֹרָא ,סָבוֹרָאִים), Babylonian scholars between the *amoraim and the *geonim. Very little is known of this period, the principal sources being Sherira (Iggeret Sherira Ga'on, ed. by B.M. Lewin (1921), 67–71,95–99), who drew upon early geonic archival material; Abraham ibn Daud (Ibn Daud, Tradition, 43–55); and some additional geonic fragments such as Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im, etc. Traditionally, the amoraic phase ends with the death of *Ravina (bm 86a) in 499 c.e. According to Seder Tanna'im ve-Amora'im (ed. by Grossberg, 105–11) and Sherira, the last of the savoraim were Gada (Gazai) and Simuna, who died in 540, while Ibn Daud extends the savoraic period for five generations, from Mar Joseph (502) until the death of Sheshna in 689. It would appear that the transition from one period to another was so gradual that only in retrospect could the geonim somewhat arbitrarily fix terminal dates to the savoraic period, and different reckonings were adduced. Sherira, Ibn Daud, and Seder Tannai'm ve-Amora'im all give lists of savoraim, but the textual state of these lists is poor, and only a few major personalities can be definitely identified, e.g., Abba (Rava) Joseph (Yose), Aḥa b. Huna, Aḥai of Be-Hatim, Geviha of Argiza (Git. 7a), Mordecai, Pappias, Rabbah of Rov, and Samuel b. Abbahu (Rabbah; Ḥul. 59b).

The term savoraim, first found in geonic sources, and based on savora in the Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 2, 63d (where it means a scholar competent to render decisions) implies those who give private subjective judgments rather than authoritative ones. According to Sherira, after Ravina there was no hora'ah (independent decision based on interpretation of the Mishnah), but the savoraim "rendered decisions similar to hora'ah, and gave explanations of all that had been left unsettled." This implies that they added nothing essentially new to the Talmud, merely adding explanations which in some ways were similar to amoraic decisions and coming to practical conclusions on undecided issues (hence the savoraic terminology of ve-hilkheta ("and the ruling is"), pashit ("he resolved it"), mistabra ("it is reasonable"), etc. Sherira adds that a number of savoraic decisions (of Ena and Simuna) and indeed complete arguments (e.g., Kid. 2a–3b) have been included in the Talmud. Analysis of these additions often demonstrates a close similarity in style and argumentation to that of the later amoraim, again underscoring the problem of pinpointing the moment of transition between the two periods.

According to (some versions of) Seder Tanna'im va-Amora'im, the savoraim did no more than "merely determine the arrangement of the Talmud text in all its chapters." Evidently, this represents but one (the earliest?) phase of savoraic activity, during which the redaction of the Talmud, begun in the late amoraic period, was completed. The savoraim completed the ordering of the Talmud, clarified certain unsettled halakhic decisions, introduced additional discussions and explanations of existing texts, and inserted brief technical guide phrases to facilitate study of the texts. Recent tendencies have been to increase the extent of their contribution to the Talmud, though this is still a subject of considerable controversy.


Baron, Social2, 2 (1952), 426; 6 (1958), 17f., 328f. (with a critical bibl.); B.M. Lewin, in: Azkarah le-Nishmat… A.I. Kook, pt. 4 (1937), 145–208; idem, in: Ha-Tor, 6 (1926), nos. 16, 34; A. Weiss, Ha-Yeẓirah shel ha-Savora'im (1953); Halevy, Dorot, 3 (1923), 1–63; M.D. Yudelivitz, Yeshivat Pumbedita bi-Ymei ha-Amora'im (1935), 52–54; Z. Jawitz, Toledot Yisrael, (1922), 213–24.

[Daniel Sperber]

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

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Savora, Savoraim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 23 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Savora, Savoraim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (April 23, 2019).

"Savora, Savoraim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved April 23, 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.