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'AWIRA, RAB:

Babylonian amora of the third and fourth generations (fourth century); contemporary of Abaye and Safra—the latter speaking of him as of "a scholar coming from the West" (Palestine). 'Awira had emigrated to Palestine, where he officiated as usher at a college of "the great teacher" (probably Ammi); but he returned to his native land (Ḥul. 51a), bringing with him many Halakot and Haggadot of R. Ammi and of R. Assi, in transmitting which he frequently interchanged the names of the authors (Ber. 20b; Pes. 119b [correct version in MSS.]; Soṭah 4b; Giṭ. 7a; Ḥul. 84b; see Ammi). Besides those which he reported in the names of others, there are some original homilies by Rab 'Awira. "Come and see," he said once, "how unlike human nature is the nature of the Holy One. The man of high standing looks up with respect to a man higher placed than himself, but does not respect his inferior; not so the Holy One: He is supreme and yet respects the lowly, as Scripture says (Ps. cxxxviii. 6), 'Though the Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly'" (Soṭah 5a). [Others ascribe this to R. Eleazar.]

According to 'Awira [some ascribe the remark to R. Joshua b. Levi], "The tempter [evil inclination] is called by seven different names. The Holy One—blessed be He!—calls him simply 'Evil,' as it is said (Gen. viii. 21), 'The inclination of man's heart is evil'; Moses calls him 'The uncircumcised,' for so he says (Deut. x. 16), 'Ye shall circumcise the foreskin ("'orlat") of your heart'; David calls him 'Unclean,' for he prays (Ps. li. 12), 'Create in me a clean heart,' whence it appears that there is an unclean one; Solomon calls him 'Enemy,' for he says (Prov. xxv. 21, 22), 'If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread [religious nourishment] to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water [spiritual refreshment] to drink,' etc. (compare Isa. lv. 1, 2); Isaiah calls him 'Stumbling-block,' for he cries (Isa. lvii. 14), 'Remove the stumbling-block out of the way of my people'; Ezekiel calls him 'Stone,' for he says (Ezek. xxxvi. 26), 'I will remove the heart of stone out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh'; Joel calls him 'Lurker,' for he says (Joel ii. 20, Hebr.), 'I will remove far off from you the "ẓefoni,"' which, in the Haggadah, is taken as a symbolical name of the tempter who lies hidden ('ẓafun') in the heart of man" (Suk.52a). Pes. 110b; Ket. 112a; B. B. 131b; Men. 43a; Ḥul. 42b, 55a.

J. Sr. S. M.
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