Anani ben Sason

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Rabbinical Eras

Anani ben Sason (also called 'Anani, 'Inani, and 'Inyani) was a Jewish Talmudist who lived in the Land of Israel, known as an amora of the third century, a contemporary of R. Ammi. He rarely discussed Halakot, and his discussions of them were not original (Shab. 64b). Once he recited a Halakah in the patriarch's mansion, without naming its author, which provoked R. Ammi to ask: "Is it his own? It is what R. Eleazar had reported in the name of R. Oshaiah" (M. Ḳ. 24b). In the Haggadah, he sometimes reported the sayings of others, but more often he was original. Thus, as a reason for the juxtaposition of the regulations regarding the sacrificial rites and the priestly vestments (Ex. xxviii-xxix), he points out that the priestly vestments were to have atoning effects as well as the sacrifices. He represents the miter as atoning for haughtiness, and cites R. Chanina as saying, "That which rests highest on the priest atones for one's considering himself high"; and similarly with the rest of the priestly garments (Zeb. 88b; 'Ar. 16a; compare Yer. Yoma, vii. 44b; Lev. R. x.). Referring to God's appearance in the thorn-bush (Ex. iii. 2-4) he remarks, "The Holy One—blessed be He!—said to Moses, 'When I will it, one of my angels stretcheth forth his hand from heaven and reacheth to the ground,' as the Scripture says [Ezek. viii. 3], 'He put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of mine head'; and when it so pleaseth me, I make three angels sit under one tree [Gen. xviii. 4]; when I choose, my glory fills the universe, as it is written [Jer. xxiii. 24], 'Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord'; 'and when I so willed, I spoke to Job in a whirlwind, as it is said [Job, xxxviii. 1, xl. 6], "The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind"" (Ex. R. iii., where the interpretation is somewhat forced).

The same idea, though in different form, is found elsewhere (Gen. R. iv., Pesiḳ. R. i. 47) in the name of R. Chanina b. Issi (Sissi); and as the name of the subject of this article is sometimes written 'Inani and also 'Inyani (compare Diḳduḳe Soferim to Shab. 64b, M. Ḳ. 24b, Zeb. 88b)—which forms are dialectic variations of Chanina, though with the initial aleph instead of ayin—the circumstance probably suggested the identity of the two names (compare Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 547, 4-5). But this identification meets with insuperable chronological difficulties, Chanina b. Sissi being a contemporary of Johanan (Yer. Sanh. ii. 20c), while 'Anani was younger even than Johanan's pupils.

Isaac Reichlin (Ha-Kerem, 1887, p. 214b) aptly suggests that 'Anani's real name was 'Ananiel, as it is still preserved in Ex. R. iii. 7, and that its apocopated form was adopted to avoid the mention of the name "El" (God) in common speech.

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