SIMEON B. MENASYA:
Tanna of the fourth generation, and contemporary of R. Judah ha-Nasi I., with whom he engaged in a halakic discussion (Beẓah 21a). He and Jose b. Meshullam formed a society called "Ḳehala Ḳaddisha" (the Holy Community), because its members devoted one-third of the day to the study of the Torah, one-third to prayer, and the remaining third to work (Yer. Ma'as. Sheni 53d; Eccl. R. ix. 9). Simeon b. Menasya is not mentioned in the Mishnah, his sentence in Ḥag. ii. 7 being a later addition; but some halakic sentences by him have been preserved elsewhere (Tosef., Kelim, B. B. iv. 10; Zeb. 94a, 97).
A larger number of his haggadic sentences have come down, including the following: Referring to Ps. xliv. 23, he says, "It is not possible for one to be killed every day; but God reckons the life of the pious as though they died a martyr's death daily" (Sifre, Deut. 32 [ed. Friedmann, p. 73a]). Prov. xvii. 14, he says, contains a rule for a judge desirous of effecting a compromise between two contending parties. Before the judge has heard the statements of both parties, or before he has made up his mind as to the nature of his decision, he may set aside theLaw and call upon the parties to settle the matter amicably. Afterward, however, he may not do so, but must decide according to the Law (Sanh. 6b). "Canticles was inspired by the Holy Ghost, while Ecclesiastes expresses merely the wisdom of Solomon" (Tosef., Yad. ii. 14). Especially noteworthy is Simeon's interpretation of Ex. xxxi. 14, "Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you." "The words 'unto you,'" he says, "imply that the Sabbath is given to you, and that you are not given to the Sabbath" (Mek., Ki Tissa [ed. Weiss, p. 109b]; comp. Mark ii. 27, where Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath").
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. 271-272;
- Frankel, Hodegetica in Mischnam, p. 202;
- Brüll, Einleitung in die Mischna, i. 239-240;
- Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 489-494.