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Rabbah bar Huna

RABBAH BAR HUNA (in TJ, Abba bar Huna or Bar bar Huna; d. 322 C.E.), Babylonian amora. Rabba was a disciple of both Samuel (Er. 49a), and Rav (BB 136b), in whose names he transmitted sayings and decisions (Ber. 25a; Shab. 97a). His main teacher, however, was his father, Huna (Me'il. 15b), the head of the academy at Sura (cf. Git. 35a). His father urged him to attend Ḥisda's lectures diligently. Initially, however, Rabbah found some of the matters discussed (such as personal hygiene) alien to his earnest nature (Shab. 82a). Only in later life did he develop a close association with Ḥisda, and served with him as a judge (Shab. 10a). Indeed, his eventual respect for Ḥisda was such that he accepted his advice not to introduce the Decalogue in the statutory daily prayers (Ber. 12a; see Dik. Sof. thereto). He publicly acknowledged Ḥisda's correction of another of his decisions, instructing his amora to deliver a discourse on the theme that "no one can fully understand the words of the Torah until he has been mistaken in their interpretation" (Git. 43a). The two are also known to have studied aggadah together (Pes. 110a; 117a; Sot. 39a).

After Ḥisda's death Rabbah was appointed head of the academy of Sura (Iggeret Sherira Gaon, p. 82). Rabbah was particularly friendly with the exilarch, frequenting his home (Shab. 157b, Suk. 10b, etc.), and the exilarch used to address halakhic queries to him (Shab. 115b). Nevertheless, Rabbah insisted on his complete independence of him, and in a dispute with the members of the exilarch's household, he emphasized that he had received authority to act as judge from his father and not from the exilarch, and was therefore not bound by their views (Sanh. 5a). Rabbah was distinguished by his piety (Shab. 31a–b), and by his modesty which his colleague Rava once prayed that he might emulate (MK 28a). Among his maxims and sayings are many which stress this virtue: "An insolent person is considered a transgressor" (Ta'an. 7b). He also taught that he who possesses knowledge of the Torah but is without the fear of God is like a steward who, although in possession of the inner keys of the treasure house, is unable to gain access to it, because he does not possess the outer keys (Shab. 31a–b). He also said: "When a man loses his temper, even the Divine Presence is unimportant in his eyes" (Ned. 22b). Rabbah died in Babylon, but his remains were taken to Ereẓ Israel, where funeral orations were delivered for him (MK 25b).


Bacher, Bab Amor, 62f.; Hyman, Toledot, 1071–74.

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