Adda bar Ahavah

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Rabbinical Eras

Adda bar Ahavah or Adda bar Ahabah is the name of two Jewish rabbis and Talmudic scholars, known as Amoraim, who lived in Babylonia.

The amora of the second generation[edit]

Rav Adda bar Ahavah was a Jewish Talmudist who lived in Babylonia, known as an amora of the second generation (third and fourth centuries), frequently quoted in both the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. He is said to have been born on the day that Rabbi (Judah haNasi) died. (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 72a–b; Genesis Rabbah 63:2.) He was a disciple of Abba Arika (Rav), at whose funeral he rent his garments twice in mourning for the great scholar. (Jerusalem Talmud Bava Metzia 3a; Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 42b–43a.) In Pumbedita, Rav Adda gathered about him many pupils, whom he taught sometimes in the public thoroughfares. (Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 110b.) He lived to an old age, and when interrogated on the merits that entitled him to be so favored, he gave the following autobiographical sketch:

"No one has ever preceded me to the synagogue, nor has any one ever remained in the synagogue after my departure. I never walked as much as four cubits without meditating on the Law, and never thought of its contents at places not scrupulously clean. Nor did I prepare a bed for myself to enjoy regular sleep, nor did I disturb my colleagues by walking to my seat at college among them. I never nicknamed my neighbor nor rejoiced at his fall. Anger against my neighbor never went to bed with me, and I never passed the street near where my debtor lived; and while at home I never betrayed impatience, in order to observe what is said (in Psalm 101:2), 'I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.'" (Jerusalem Talmud Taanit 67a; compare Babylonian Talmud Taanit 20b.)

Yet where sanctity of life and the glory of heaven were concerned, he lost his patience and risked much. Thus, on one occasion, when he observed on the street a woman named Matun (patience) dressed in a manner unbecoming a modest Jewish woman, he violently rebuked her. Unfortunately for him, the woman was a Samaritan, and for the attack on her he was condemned to pay a fine of 400 zuz, and thereupon he repeated a popular saying, "Matun, matun [waiting, patience] is worth 400 zuz!" (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 20a.)

Rab Adda's said: "The man who is conscious of sin and confesses it, but does not turn away from it, is like the man who holds a defiling reptile in his hand; were he to bathe in all the waters of the world, the bath would not restore him to cleanness. Only when he drops it from his hand, and bathes in but forty seahs (about 100 gallons) of water he is clean." (Babylonian Talmud Taanit 16a; compare Tosefta Taanit 1:8.)

Legends as to his sanctity[edit]

Such a character is generally surrounded by legend, and later ages supplied this. It is said that Rav Adda's piety was so highly valued by heaven that no favor asked by him was ever refused. In times of drought, for example, when he pulled off just one shoe (preparatory to offering prayer), an abundance of rain descended; but if he pulled off the other, the world was flooded. (Jerusalem Talmud Taanit 67a.) Even his teacher, Rav, realized Adda's protective influence. On one occasion when he and Samuel, accompanied by Adda, came to a tottering ruin, and Samuel proposed to avoid it by taking a circuitous route, Rav observed that just then there was no occasion for fear, since Rav Adda, whose merits were very great, was with them; consequently no accident would befall them. Samuel's great colleague Rav Huna also believed in and availed himself of Rav Adda's supposed miraculous influence with heaven. Rav Huna had a lot of wine stored in a building that threatened to collapse. He was anxious to save his property, but there was danger of accident to the laborers. Therefore he invited Rav Adda into the building, and there engaged him in legal discussions until the task of removing its contents was safely accomplished; hardly had the rabbis vacated the premises when the tottering walls fell. (Babylonian Talmud Taanit 20b.)

The disciple of Rava[edit]

A second Rav Adda bar Ahavah was also a Jewish Talmudist, a disciple of Rava, addressed by Rava as "my son." In a discussion the elder rabbi once rebuked him as devoid of understanding (Babylonian Talmud Taanit 8a; Yevamot 61b; Sanhedrin 81a–b.) Subsequently he studied under Rav Papa and waited on Rav Nachman ben Isaac.(Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 22a.)

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