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ABBA BAR ZEBINA (or ZEMINA):

A Palestinian amora of the fourth century. He was a pupil of R. Zeira, in whose name he transmitted many sayings. He was employed in Rome as a tailor in the house of a Gentile who, under the threat of death, tried to force him to break the dietary laws. Abba, however, steadfastly refused to yield to this, and showed so much courage that the Roman admiringly exclaimed: "If you had eaten, I should have killed you. If you be a Jew, be a Jew; if a heathen, a heathen!" (Yer. Sheb. iv. 35a et seq.).

Tanḥuma b. Abba relates another anecdote concerning a pious tailor at Rome (Gen. R. xi.), who bought the most expensive fish; this anecdote mayrefer to our Abba bar Zebina (but see Shab. 119a, where the same story is told of Joseph, "the reverer of the Sabbath").

Bibliography:
  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 651, 652;
  • Frankel, Mebo, pp. 56a, 57.
W. B.
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