Tanḥum ben Ḥanilai

views updated


TANḤUM BEN ḤANILAI (Ilai or b. Hanila in the Jerusalem Talmud), Palestinian amora of the second half of the third century. The name Ḥanilai suggests a Babylonian origin. He was a pupil of Joshua b. *Levi (bk 55a). A prominent aggadist, his teachings were of a high ethical and moral character. He taught that God says to Israel, "My daughter [the Torah] is in thy hands; thy daughter [the soul] is in My hands. If thou protect Mine, then I shall protect thine" (Tanḥ. Ki Tissa, 28). At meals he would remind his family "to set aside a portion for the poor" (Tanḥ. Mishpatim, 8). "A man who has no wife," he stated, "lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness" (Yev. 62b). "One should never break away from the accepted custom," for when Moses ascended to the angels, he ate no bread, but when the angels visited Abraham, they appeared to eat and drink (bm 86b). A characteristic of his aggadah is a system of connecting the last words of one Bible verse with the opening words of the next. Thus by connecting Leviticus 1:16 with 2:1, he deduces that the crop of a bird-offering is unworthy of the altar, since the food in it is obtained by robbery and violence (Lev. R. 3:4). R. Tanḥum died on Ḥanukkah (tj, mk 3:9, 83d).


Bacher, Pal Amor, 1, 3; Hyman, Toledot, s.v.; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 192.