Simeon ben Nethanel

views updated


SIMEON BEN NETHANEL (second half of the first century c.e.), tanna. One of the five outstanding disciples of Johanan b. *Zakkai who called him "sin-fearing" (Avot 2:8), Simeon was a priest and married the daughter of *Gamalieli (the Elder; Tosef., Av. Zar. 3:19). Very few of his sayings have been preserved. His saying in Avot (2:13) is: "Be careful in reading the Shema and the Amidah; and when thou prayest, regard not thy prayer as a fixed mechanical task, but as an appeal for mercy and grace before the All-present…; and be not wicked in thine own esteem." His reply to the question of his master as to "the good way to which a man should cleave" was "foreseeing the consequences" of all acts. "The evil way which man should shun" is "borrowing and not repaying, whether from man or from God," i.e., ingratitude (Avot 2:9). He plays a role in the later development of the mystic traditions surrounding the vision of the merkavah (tj, Ḥag. 2:1; cf. tb 14b), but his role in these stories in all likelihood has no historical foundation (Wald).


Hyman, Toledot, s.v.add. bibliography: S. Wald, "The Derashah Ba-merkavah of R. Eleazar ben Arakh" (Hebrew), in: jsij.

[Israel Burgansky /

Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]