SAFRA (first half of fourth century C.E.), Babylonian amora. In Babylon, Safra studied under *Abba (Pes. 51b). He paid several visits to Ereẓ Israel but never received permission to teach there. His decisions are not quoted in Palestinian sources, although he is known to have discussed halakhah with such Palestinian authorities as *Abbahu (Av. Zar. 4a; Git. 29b). As a result he transmitted to Babylon some of the early traditions followed in Ereẓ Israel (Kid. 30a). *Abbaye states that Safra's reports were often quoted in the Babylonian academies (MK 25a), and Safra also asked Zerika specific questions on Abbaye's behalf (Ḥul. 110b). Among his Babylonian colleagues were *Ḥanina b. Papa (Git. 29b) and Huna b. Ḥanina (Shab. 124a). Like most Babylonian scholars, Safra was more versed in the halakhah than in aggadah. On one occasion, when the authorities of Caesarea doubted Safra's right to exemption from the payment of tax (a concession to scholars), Abbahu pointed out "He is a scholar of the Talmud, not of the Bible" (Av. Zar. 4a).
Safra was a businessman (BB 144a), a partner of *Issur Giora (BM 31b), and his business honesty was legendary (Mak. 24a). It is related that once, while praying, he was approached by a prospective buyer for his ass. The buyer, interpreting Safra's refusal to interrupt his prayers as a sign of disapproval of the price offered, successively raised his bids. However, when Safra had completed his prayers, he insisted on taking the price first offered (She'iltot, Parshat Va-Yeḥi, ed. Minsky, 252). He was also highly praised for his piety and modesty (Pes. 113a–b), and for his courtesy toward his colleagues (Suk. 39a; cf. Ḥul. 94b). Little is known of Safra's private life. His wife died soon after their marriage, and he never remarried (Pes. 113a). His brother Dimi was also a scholar. When Safra died, in Pumbedita, Abbaye instructed his pupils to accord him the highest honors due to a deceased scholar (MK 25a).
Hyman, Toledot, 966–9.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.