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JOHANAN B. TORTA:

Scholar of the first and second centuries; contemporary of Akiba. When Akiba hailed Bar Kokba as the Messiah, the latter exclaimed, "Akiba, grass will have grown out of thy jaws ere the Son of David appears" (Yer. Ta'an. viii. 68d; Lam. R. ii. 2). To a legend of a cow that refused to work on a Sabbath, and thereby caused the conversion of Johanan, who had been a pagan, is referred Johanan's by-name "ben Torta" (son of a cow; Pesiḳ. R. xiv. 56b et seq.). No halakot are ascribed to him, and only one haggadah bears his name: "Shiloh was destroyed because there sacred things were treated contemptuously" (see I Sam. ii. 17); "the first Jerusalem Temple was destroyed because at the time people perpetrated the sins of idolatry, incest, and bloodshed. But we know that in the age of the later Temple people studied the Law and carefully tithed their produce: why then were they exiled? Because they loved Mammon and hated one another! From this we may learn that to hate man is grievous in the eyes of the Omnipresent, and that it is paramount to idolatry, incest, and bloodshed" (Tosef., Men. xiii. 22; comp. Yoma 9a et seq.).

Bibliography:
  • Bacher, Ag. Tan. ii. 557;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 2d ed., iv. 150;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii. (see ib. s.v. Ḥanina b. Torta).
S. S. S. M.
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