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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Rabbah b. Shela

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Babylonian amora of the fourth generation contemporary of Raba, and a judge (Ket. 104b), probably at Pumbedita. His strict honesty is shown by a judicial maxim of his which states that a judge may not borrow anything from those who are under his jurisdiction, unless he is in a position to lend something in return, since otherwise he may be bribed by the kindness which has been done to him in the making of the loan in question (Ket. 105b). Rabbah was probably a pupil of R. Ḥ isda, to whom he once addressed a halakic question (Shab. 81a, b) he also quotes some of Ḥ isda's halakic and haggadic passages (Shab. 7a, 33a). He likewise transmitted maxims in the name of R. Naḥ man (B. B. 155b) and of R. Matna (Ḥ ag. 23a). Several of his interpretations of Biblical passages have been preserved, some being his independent opinions (Yoma 54a, b Men. 87a Ned. 41a), while others were derived from his predecessors (Ta' an. 2a Soṭ ah 35b B. B. 123b).

According to a legend, Rabbah had a conversation with Elijah in which he asked what was the occupation of God, receiving the answer that He was promulgating halakic maxims in the name of the sages, although there were no citations from R. Meï r, because he had studied under Aḥ er (Elisha b. Abuyah). Rabbah replied: "Why is this? R. Meï r has studied only the Torah under Aḥ er, and has disregarded his other teachings, like one who finds a pomegranate and eats the fruit, but throws away the rind." Thereupon Elijah said: "Because of thine argument God has just quoted an aphorism by R. Meï r" (Ḥ ag. 15b).

Bibliography : Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot , 2:336-337, Warsaw, 1882 Bacher, Ag. Bab. Amor. 2:140-141. W. B. J. Z. L.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Rabbah b. Shela'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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