Yose ben Ḥalafta

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YOSE BEN ḤALAFTA (mid-second century c.e.), tanna; the R. Yose mentioned in the Talmud without patronymic. Yose was one of the leaders of the generation after the persecutions which followed the Bar Kokhba War. He was born in *Sepphoris, where his father was one of those who instituted takkanot there after the destruction of the Temple (Tosef., Ta'an. 1:14). Yose studied under his father and transmitted some of his teachings (Kelim 26:6; et al.). He also studied under *Johanan b. Nuri in Galilee (Tosef., Kelim, bk 6:4; et al.), and under *Tarfon in Judea (ibid., Shev. 4:4). His main teacher, however, was *Akiva in whose name he frequently transmits halakhot, and it was said generally: "R. Akiva his teacher" (Pes. 18a). The Babylonian Talmud numbers him among his last pupils who "reestablished the Torah" (Yev. 62b) and according to one tradition he was ordained by *Judah b. Bava (Sanh. 14a). Other traditions report that he participated in all the conventions of scholars "at the close of the period of persecution," in the valley of Bet Rimmon, in Usha, and in Jabneh (tj, Ḥag. 3:1; Ber. 63b). During the persecutions he endangered his life to fulfill the precept of circumcision and fled to Asia or to Laodicea (bm 84a: tj, Av. Zar. 3:1). He followed in the footsteps of his father in Sepphoris in introducing takkanot (Sanh. 19a), in giving practical instruction (see Er. 86b), and in preaching in public (Sanh. 109a).

Yose's bet din in Sepphoris was reckoned among the most outstanding in Ereẓ Israel (Sanh. 32b). Yose and Judah are frequently found together with the nasi, Simeon b. Gamaliel both at Usha and during his various travels (Tosef., Ber. 5:2; ibid., Suk. 2: 2; et al.), and Simeon b. Gamaliel quotes him (Meg. 6b). His influence was still felt in the council chamber during the time of Judah ha-Nasi, the son of Simeon, who withdrew his own view in favor of that of Yose (Shab. 51a), and spoke of him with exceptional respect (Git. 67a). The Talmud states that the halakhah was established in accordance with the view of Yose wherever his associates disagreed with him (Er. 46b). Yose is mentioned several times in all the tractates of the Talmud with the exception of Bikkurim, Hagigah, Horayot, and Me'ilah, and in the beraitot his halakhot are frequently given.

His sayings in the aggadah are not numerous. Some 16 conversations with gentiles have been ascribed to him, especially those with "a certain matron." Many aggadic sayings quoted in his name deal with theological and cosmological problems, and noteworthy in this connection is his explanation of the name Makom ("place") for God: "The Holy One is the place of the world, but the world is not His place" (Gen. R. 68:9). Among others are his sayings: "The Divine Presence never descended to earth, nor did Moses and Elijah ever ascend on high" (Suk. 5a); "On what does the world rest? On the pillars… the pillars upon the waters… the waters upon the mountains… the mountains on the wind… the wind upon the tempest… the tempest is suspended on the arm of the Holy One" (Ḥag. 12b). In opposition to the view of others, Yose held that "man is judged each day" (Tosef., rh 1:13). Yose transmitted many reminiscences and historical traditions of the generations close to him and of the time of the Temple. In his aggadah too an important place is given to determining the chronology of the events in Scripture and to the interpretation of the historical material of the scriptural books. The baraita, *Seder Olam, dealing with chronology, apparently had its origin in his school, as testified by Johanan (Yev. 82b). Many traditions record his unpretentious ways and his relations with his fellow men, as well as his piety (Shab. 118b; tj, Ber. 3:4). Yose is the earliest scholar of whom it is related that he was worthy of having the prophet Elijah reveal himself to him regularly in order to teach him (Ber. 31; et al.). Of his private life, it is reported that he obtained his livelihood by tanning (Shab. 49a–b). He left five sons, all scholars, the best known of them being *Ishmael and *Eleazar.


Frankel, Mishnah (1923), 174ff.; M. Yoel, in: mgwj, 6 (1857), 83ff.; B. Ratner, Mavo le-Seder Olam Rabha (1896); Bacher, Tann, 2; Epstein, Tanna'im, 126ff.

[Shmuel Safrai]