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RABBAH B. SHELA:

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. Ḥisda, to whom he once addressed a halakic question (Shab. 81a, b); he also quotes some of Ḥisda's halakic and haggadic passages (Shab. 7a, 33a). He likewise transmitted maxims in the name of R. Naḥman (B. B. 155b) and of R. Matna (Ḥag. 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; Soṭah 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. Meïr, because he had studied under Aḥer (Elisha b. Abuyah). Rabbah replied: "Why is this? R. Meïr has studied only the Torah under Aḥer, 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. Meïr" (Ḥag. 15b).

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