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HANANIAH (ḤANINA):

Palestinian amora of the third and fourth centuries; junior of Ḥiyya b. Abba and Ze'era I. (Yer. Ber. vii. 11b). He was frequently described as the "comrade of the Rabbis" (). In the Babylonian Talmud he is never cited with his cognomen; and in the Jerusalem Talmud also he is frequently quoted by his prænomen alone. Thus he appears in the report of a legal controversy between him and Haggai, in which R. Ela participated (Yer. Ḳid. iii. 63d). With the latter he repeatedly had heated discussions, Ela exclaiming, "God save us from such opinions!" and Hananiah retorting, "Rather may God save us from thy opinions!" (Shab. 83b; Ket. 45b; B. Ḳ. 65b).

Hananiah was a Babylonian by birth, and was assumed to have been the brother of Rabbah b. Naḥmani ("Yuḥasin," 129a), a descendant of the priestly house of Eli (R. H. 18a; Sanh. 14b); but he and another brother, Hoshaiah ("Oshaiah" in the Babylonian Talmud), emigrated at an early age to Palestine. They settled at Tiberias, whither they ineffectually urged Rabbah to follow them (Yer. Ta'an. i. 64a; Ket. 111a). Here they plied the shoemaker's trade for a living. They established themselves on a street inhabited by prostitutes, who patronized them. Because they preserved their modesty and chastity, in spite of their evil associations, even the women learned to revere them and to swear "by the life of the saintly rabbis of Palestine" (Pes. 113b). They were also famous as workers of miracles, and when they desired to prepare some savory meal in honor of the Sabbath, legend says they were compelled to resort to transcendental means in order to produce it (Sanh. 65b). Their exemplary life as well as their scholarship prompted Johanan to ordain them as teachers, but for reasons not stated—possibly because of the associations into which their trade led them, or perhaps because of their youth—he failed to carry out his intentions. This was a source of regret to the venerable teacher, but the brothers eased his mind by pointing out that, being descendants from the house of Eli, they could not expect to be promoted to "elderships," since of that house the Bible has said: "There shall not be an old man in thine house forever" (I Sam. ii. 32; Sanh. 14a). Hananiah died on a semi-festival, and, as a mark of distinction and of general mourning, his coffin was, contrary to custom on such days, made on the public street (Yer. M. Ḳ. i. 80d).

Bibliography:
  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 550;
  • Frankel, Mebo, p. 88a;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 129a.
E. C. S. M.
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