First payyeṭan to employ rime and introduce his name in acrostics; flourished, probably in Palestine, in the first half of the seventh century. He was apparently a very prolific poet, for reference is made to "the liturgical poems of Yannai"; he is also said to have composed "ḳerobot" for the "orders of the year" (perhaps for the weekly lessons). Most of his poems are lost; some are perhaps still extant, but they can not be recognized with certainty as Yannai's work. The following fragments alone remain to show his style:
- 1. : A "ḳerobah" for Sabbath ha-Gadol. It is said to include also , found in the Pesaḥ Haggadah.
- 2. : A "shib'ata" for the seventh day of Pesaḥ. The middle portion is missing. It is designated as (this reading must be substituted for the senseless in the superscription), i.e., "bolt" or "beam" (δρόμος, otherwise called ), and forms a sort of textual variation of Canticles, following the conception and interpretation of that book in the Midrash.
- 3. : A "silluḳ" for Sabbath Shim'u, i.e., the second Sabbath before the Ninth of Ab.
Yannai, like his predecessor Jose b. Jose, is not as obscure in his vocabulary and in his metaphors as is ḳalir, who is said to have been Yannai's pupil and to have been killed by his master out of jealousy. The extant examples of Yannai's work do not indicate any great poetic talent.
- Rapoport, in Bikkure ha-'Ittim, 1829, p. 111;
- idem, in Kerem Ḥemed, 1841, vi. 25;
- Luzzatto, Mebo, p. 10;
- Zunz, Literaturgesch. p. 28;
- Landshuth, 'Ammude ha-'Abodah, p. 102;
- Harkavy, Studien und Mittheilungen, v. 106;
- S. A. Wertheimer, Ginze Yerushalayim, ii. 18b.