Judah haNasi

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Rabbi Yehuda haNasi, (or Judah I; Hebrew: יהודה הנשיא‎, pronounced Y'huda haNasi, lit. "Judah the Prince"), also known as Rebbi and Rabbenu HaQadosh (Hebrew: רבינו הקדוש‎, "Our Holy Rabbi"), was a key leader of the Jewish community of Judea toward the end of the 2nd century CE, during the occupation by the Roman Empire. He is best known as the chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the title nasi, meaning prince.[1] The title nasi was also used for presidents of the Sanhedrin.[2] (In modern Hebrew, it usually means "President").

Rabbi Judah haNasi died on 15 Kislev in 188CE or 219CE.

Contents

Biography

Judah haNasi was born in 135. According to the Midrash, he came into the world on the same day that Rabbi Akiva died a martyr's death.[3] The Talmud suggests that this was a result of Divine Providence: God had granted the Jewish people another leader of great stature to succeed Rabbi Akiva. His place of birth is unknown; nor is it recorded where his father, Shimon ben Gamliel II, sought refuge with his family during the persecutions under Hadrian.

On the restoration of order in the Land of Israel, Usha became the seat of the academy and Judah spent his youth there. His father presumably gave him the same education that he himself had received, including Greek language.[4] This knowledge of Greek enabled him to become the Jews' intermediary with the Roman authorities. He favored Greek as the language of the country over Syriac (Aramaic).[5] It is said that in Judah's house, only Hebrew was spoken, and even the maids spoke it.[6]

According to the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10a-b), Judah haNasi was very wealthy and greatly revered in Rome. He had a close friendship with "Antoninus", possibly the Emperor Antoninus Pius,[7] who would consult Judah on various worldly and spiritual matters.

The Talmud records the tradition that Judah haNasi was buried in the necropolis of Beit She'arim, in the Lower Galilee.[8]

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