1902 Encyclopedia > Raba

Talmudic scholar

RABA (R5B5) - i.e., RAB ABA B. YOSEPH B. HAMA (Homo) - was, like his teacher Rabbah and his fellow-pupil Abayye, a scion of the house of Eli, on whom rested the double curse of poverty and that none of them should reach old age (1 Sam. ii. 31-36). According to T. B., Rosh, Hasshanah, 18a,1 he sought to remove this curse, if not by sacrifices and offering then by the study of the Law, while Abayye also practised works of charity. Raba was rabbi and judge of the congregation and head of the school (methibta) of Maljfiza. He lived in the middle of the 4th Christian century, and became on the death of his fellow-pupil Abayye head of the famous academy of Pumbaditha, which was only closed in 1040. He was noted, like his predecessor, for his genius ; and the discussions between them (and similar ones of others) are known in the Babylonian Talmud as the Havayoth de-Abayye ve-Ritba (Sukkah, 284 Raba was also noted for the liberality of his religious decisions (T. B., Berakhoth, 22b ; 30a, and elsewhere). Being a man of considerable wealth, he showed, in accordance with Scriptural truth (Prow. xviii. 23), his independence in every way. Thus he hesitated not to include the exquisites of the congregation of Maljiiza, who were noted for their luxurious style of living, among the candidates for Gehenna, whose faces would one day become as dark as the sides and the bottom of a saucepan (T. B., Rosh Hasshanah, 17a), whilst he most ungallantly applied to their idle wives the passage of Amos iv. 1 (T. B., Shabbath, 32b). Raba was in fact the Abraham a Sancta Clara of his day, minus the cloister life of the latter. He was married to one of the beautiful, accomplished, and amiable daughters of his teacher, R. Hisda, whom he so dearly loved that he was ready to forgive Bar Hadya (an interpreter of dreams who had much vexed him by his adverse interpretations) everything except the interpretation of a dream foreboding her death. Raba, relying on Gen. xli. 12, 13, believed that the fulfilment of dreams within certain limits was influenced by the interpretation given to them (T. B., Berakhoth, 55b). (s. rs. s.-s.)

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