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'ILISH:

Babylonian scholar of the fourth century (fourth amoraic generation); contemporary of Raba (B. M. 96a). He and the daughters of R. Naḥman were kidnaped. One day while 'Ilish was sitting in the company of a fellow captive who understood the language of birds, the croak of a raven overhead prompted him to ask his companion what the bird said, and he was informed that the raven had said, "'Ilish, escape!" 'Ilish, however, disbelieved the message. Then a dove passed with the same message, which the interpreter again communicated to 'Ilish. This time 'Ilish, remembering that Israel is likened to a dove (see Ber. 53b), accepted the message as providential, and determined to escape. He wished to find a way to save Naḥman's daughters also; but, finding that they were not worthy, he abandoned them and escaped in company with his interpreter. 'Ilish succeeded in evading their pursuers, but his companion was overtaken and killed (Giṭ. 45a).

Once Raba, after hearing a divorce case affecting property, was about to pronounce an erroneous verdict, when 'Ilish corrected him (Giṭ. 77b). Another time Raba had occasion to reciprocate the service thus rendered him. 'Ilish showed some embarrassment, fearing that such errors might have occurred before in his judicial practise, but Raba reassured him (B. B. 133b).

Bibliography:
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.
S. S. M.
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