AMORA


AMORA (Aram. אָמוֹרָא; "sayer," "spokesman"), a term which designates the "interpreter," who communicated audibly to the assembled pupils the lessons of the rabbinic teacher. It is also used as a generic term for the rabbis of the post-mishnaic period, whose activities were centered on the interpretation of the Mishnah (see *Amoraim). The amoraim as teachers would often employ an amora as their spokesman. The amora stood by the teacher when he lectured. It was primarily to him that the rabbi spoke and he, in turn, conveyed those words to the audience. The Talmud (Yoma 20b) states that *Rav, who himself had served as an amora to R. Shila, appointed an amora when he wished to address a large assembly. There are instances both of the scholar communicating his words to the amora in Aramaic (Gen. R. 10) and of the amora addressing the pupils in Hebrew (Sanh. 7b).

The Amora is mentioned during the talmudic period both in Palestine and in Babylonia. Avdan is mentioned as the amora of R. Judah ha-Nasi (TJ, Ber. 4:1, 7c), while R. Pedat served as the amora of R. Yose (TJ, Meg. 4:10, 75c). Even Mar b. R. Ashi, one of the last of the amoraim, used to employ an amora at his addresses (Kid. 31b). Sometimes the amora was given considerable latitude in his expositions (Sot. 40a). Resh Lakish once told his amora Judah ben Naḥman, to utter words of comfort on his behalf to mourners whom they both visited (Ket. 8b). On occasion, questions by the students would be addressed to the amora who would prepare them for submission to the rabbi. At times he would make the concluding remarks after the delivery of an aggadic discourse or public discussion (TJ, Ber. 4:3, 7c). Sometimes when the assembly was exceptionally large, several amoraim were employed, Rav Huna on one occasion employing no less than 13 simultaneously (Ket. 106a). On one occasion when the nasi appointed a judge, who though wealthy was of doubtful erudition, Judah b. Naḥman was appointed as his amora. In the course of his discourses, Judah made sarcastic references to his ignorance, and criticized the nasi for appointing him (Sanh. 7b). References are found to amoraim who delivered the discourse in an unnecessarily loud voice, thus minimizing the effect of the original address, spoken in a soft and gentle tone (Eccl. R. 9:17; Ber. 56a). The institution of the amora continued as late as the 12th century, and is mentioned by Pethahiah of Regensburg under the name meturgeman (A. Benisch (ed.), Travels of Rabbi Petachia (1856), 16–17).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Guttmann, Mafte'aḥ, 3 (1924), 182–4; S.J.L. Rapoport, Erekh Millin (1852), 115–21.

[Shmuel Safrai]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.