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JUDAH BAR ILAI

JUDAH BAR ILAI (mid–second century C.E.), tanna. He is
the R. Judah mentioned in the Talmud and tannaitic
literature without patronymic. Judah came from Usha in
Galilee (see Song R. 2:5 n. 2). He studied under his father,
who was a pupil of *Eliezer b. Hyrcanus (Tosef. Zev. 2:17).

While still young Judah went to reside in Lydda, close to
*Tarfon (Tosef. Meg. 2:8, Neg. 8:2), becoming one of his
pupils (Ned. 6:6; Tosef., Yev. 12:15, et al.). He also studied
under *Akiva (Tosef., Kel. BM 6:7, Oho. 4:2).

Judah played a central role in the establishment of the new
centers of learning in Galillee after the suppression of the
Bar Kokhba revolt. The sources preserve a number of
contradictory aggadot concerning these events. According to
one tradition in the Babylonian Talmud, Judah was one of the
five ordained by *Judah b. Bava , at the cost of his life,
during the time of the Hadrianic persecutions (Sanh. 14a).
The historical authenticity of this account has been seriously
and convincingly challenged (Oppenheimer, 78–79).
According to another tradition he was among "the seven
elders" who convened to intercalate the year in the valley of
Rimmon (TJ, Ḥag. 3:1, 78c). According to a third tradition, Judah
played a leading role in the convention of scholars in Usha at
which the Sanhedrin was reestablished, being granted the
honor of speaking first, since Usha was his home town (Song
R. loc. cit.). In a later Babylonian version of this tradition,
there is a "shift of venue," from Usha to Jabneh (Ber. 63b).
Judah is still portrayed as the opening speaker at this
convention of the Sanhedrin, but this honor is no longer
explained by Judah's connection to the location, but rather
by means of an obscure title: "R. Judah, the first speaker in
every situation" (Oppenheimer, 80–82). This title is then
explained by the Talmud as resulting from Judah's role in the
events which eventually led to R. Simeon's flight from the
Romans with his son, seeking refuge for years in a cave
(Shab. 33b). However, there is no evidence in earlier
Palestinian sources for the title "first speaker in every

Zev. Judah was the halakhic authority in the house of the nasi. all the scholars of his generation were described as "the generation of Judah b. His tendency to generalize is also discernible in his own statement: "Collect the words of the Torah as general rules – and divide them up like the drops of dew which are small … for if a man collectsPage 482 | Top of Article them in items. neither its authenticity nor its accuracy can be confirmed. as was *Ishmael b. nor does Judah play any role in the parallel Palestinian versions of the saga of R. Though this statement is ascribed in the Babylonian Talmud to R. 79:6. 9. Long series of mishnayot and halakhot. Deut. The Babylonian Talmud describes Judah's share in the Sifra – the halakhic Midrash to the Book of Leviticus – by the words. Johanan. TJ. 20a). Gamaliel II (Men. Hyrcanus which he had received from his father Ilai (cf. Tannaitic literature has many statements and teachings by Judah. 13a). Rules explaining the language used by Judah have been laid down. and *Judah ha-Nasi was one of his pupils (Shevu. PdRK 11:16). and for early halakhot that he received from Tarfon. He gave the Mishnah of Akiva as the view of an individual (Ma'as. Joshua b. In his Mishnah Judah had a special place for the halakhot of Eliezer b. Levi: "Wherever Judah said 'when' or 'these words apply' in our Mishnah. but where Johanan said 'when' he introduces an explanation. are from his Mishnah. 18a). and in the view of the amora. while 'these words apply' indicates disagreement" (Er. Ilai" (Sanh. Simeon and his son (cf. as well as whole chapters in the Mishnah and the Tosefta. In a dispute between Meir – or Simeon – and Judah. his intention was only to explain the words of the scholars.situation" with respect to Judah. 5:8) and recorded the disputes between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel in accordance with a tradition which differed from that of Akiva. As a further sign of Judah's prominent position in the eyes of later tradition. the . particularly with regard to the Temple and its service. R. Yose (Suk. 81b–82a). 86a). 306). Gen. Tosef. they will weary him and he will not know what to do" (Sif. 104a). "an anonymous Sifra is by Judah" (Sanh. Sh. 2:17). 38d. *Simeon b.

Another rule laid down was: "Wherever Judah taught a law concerning the eruv. Shirata. "it once happened with a certain pious man.. dry bread with salt was brought to him. hands and feet. 4:41). On the eve of the Sabbath a basin filled with hot water was brought to him. particularly in the early Genesis Rabbah. 25b). 30a–b).halakhah follows Judah. In his view in several places Scripture removes anthropomorphic or offensive expressions (Mekh. which give the plain meaning. no less than 180 disputes between Judah and Nehemiah have been preserved in both tannaitic literature and in the amoraic Midrashim. Several of his practices were transmitted by the amora Judah in the name of Rav: "This was the practice of Judah b. Ilai. 81b). so that the Talmud states that wherever it is stated. and he sat between the baking oven and the cooking stove and ate and drank with a pitcher of water and looked as if a dead relation were lying before him" (Ta'an. but in a dispute with Yose." the reference is either to Judah b. Their style shows them to be the product of a dialogue – at times there is not even a substantial difference of view between them – and from them it is possible to discern the aggadic exegetical method of the tannaim. He washed his face. Explanations of Scripture by Judah have been preserved. His main disputant in halakhah is *Simeon b. some explain difficult words. and he who adds to it is a libeler" (Tosef. and was like an angel of the Lord of Hosts" (Shab. the halakhah follows Yose. and some explain the subject matter. Yoḥai and in aggadah *Nehemiah . 46b). but some disagree with regard to this (Er. dance before the bride. and . His interpretations touch upon many and varied topics. Meg. "On the eve of the Ninth of Av. and wrapped himself in fringed linen robes. the halakhah follows him" (Er. he used to take a myrtle twig. Their disputes touch upon all the books of the Bible except Leviticus and Job. Judah issued a warning about the difficulty of giving an accurate Aramaic translation of the Bible: "He who translates a verse literally is a liar. 6). Ilai (BK 103b). Judah was known for his piety. Bava or to Judah b.

. A memory of the impressive figure of Judah is found in the story (TJ. Pes. 31c and parallels. suspected him of being either a moneylender or a pig breeder – his shining face being due to his wealth – or of having drunk excessively. 49b) of a Roman matron who. and cf. 10:1.say: "Beautiful and graceful bride" (Ket. because of Judah's shining countenance. but he referred her to Ecclesiastes 8:1 ("A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine"). Ned. 17a).