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PAPA (c. 300–375), Babylonian amora. Papa studied under *Rava (Er. 51a) and Abbaye (Ber. 20a). After the latter's death he founded an academy at *Naresh (near Sura), where he held the post of resh metivta (head of the academy) (Ta'an. 9a) for 19 years, until his death. Although some of Rava's former pupils expressed dissatisfaction with Papa's teaching (ibid.), his academy was famous for the number of its pupils (Ket. 106a). The extent of Papa's learning is revealed by the number of occasions in which he participated in halakhic disputes. Papa's opinions are frequently the last ones quoted in the talmudic sugyot, and often take the form of reconciling and accepting conflicting opinions (Meg. 21b; Ta'an. 29b; Ḥul. 46a). In these cases he prefaces his decision with the word hilkakh "therefore." In other cases he uses the expression shema mina, "from this we can deduce" (the halakhah in a certain matter; Yoma 28b; Yev. 103a).

Papa belonged to a wealthy family and increased his fortune by his own successful business ventures (Pes. 113a). He engaged in the sale of poppy seeds (Git. 73a) and in the expert brewing of date beer (Ber. 44b; Pes. 113a; BM 65a). Rava commented on his wealth by adapting Ecclesiastes 8:14, stating "Happy are the righteous, who prosper in this world" (Hor. 10b). On one occasion Papa had to defend himself against a charge of practicing usury (BM 65a). On another, however, his action in returning some land which he had bought from a man who needed the money was praised as going beyond the strict requirements of the law (Ket. 97a). Papa was renowned for his impartiality in judgment (BM 69a) and his piety (Shab. 118b; Nid. 12b). He also had a deep respect for his fellow scholars (MK 17a) and made a point of visiting the local rabbi of any town he visited (Nid. 33b). He once undertook a self-imposed fast in atonement for speaking unkindly of a scholar (Sanh. 100a), although fasting did not agree with him (Ta'an. 24b). On another occasion, when he heard a particularly wise decision from a student, he offered him his daughter's hand in marriage (Hor. 12b). His deepest affections were reserved for his colleague Huna ben Joshua (Shab. 89a), the friendship dating from their student days (Pes. 111b; Hor. 10b). Huna served as Papa's deputy at Naresh (Ber. 57a; Sherira Ga'on 3:3) and was his business partner (Git. 73a). It is related that the two refused to part even for a journey (Yev. 85a).

In the course of his many business travels, Papa collected numerous popular sayings which he often quoted in discussion. Among them are: "If you hear that your neighbor has died, believe it; if you hear that he has become rich, do not believe it" (Git. 30b); "Sow corn for your use that you should not be obliged to purchase it; and strive to acquire landed property" (Yev. 63a). He also suggested advice on family relationships: "If your wife is short bend down to hear her whisper," i.e., always consult her, even if she is less important than you are (BM 59a). Papa's second wife was the daughter of Abba of Sura (Ket. 39b).

The formula to be recited at a *hadran on the completion of the study of a tractate includes the recitation of the names of 10 "sons of Papa." Although all are mentioned in the Talmud, some of them are definitely not the sons of this Papa (e.g., Surḥav and Daru). Among the various reasons that have been given for this recital is that it assists the memory.


Hyman, Toledot, S.V.; J. Newman, The Agricultural Life of the Jews in Babylonia (1932), index S.V. R. Pappa; Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Talmudim (1969), 417–80. Epstein, Introduction, 391–93.