Haninah ben Teradion

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Rabbinical Eras

Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion or Hananiah ben Teradion (Hebrew: חנניה בן תרדיון) was a teacher in the third Tannaitic generation (2nd century). He was a contemporary of Eleazar ben Perata I and of Halafta, together with whom he established certain ritualistic rules (Ta'anit ii. 5). He was one of the Ten Martyrs murdered by the Romans for ignoring the ban on teaching Torah.

Life and work[edit]

His residence was at Siknin, where he directed religious affairs as well as a school. The latter came to be numbered among the distinguished academies with reference to which a baraitha says: "The saying (Deuteronomy 16:20), 'That which is altogether just shalt thou follow' may be construed, 'Follow the sages in their respective academies. ... Follow Rabbi Haninah ben Teradion in Siknin'" (Sanhedrin 32b). Haninah administered the communal charity funds, and so scrupulous was he in that office that once when money of his own, designed for personal use on Purim, chanced to get mixed with the charity funds, he distributed the whole amount among the poor. Eleazar ben Jacob II so admired Haninah's honesty that he remarked, "No one ought to contribute to the charity treasury unless its administrator is like Haninah ben Teradion" (Bava Batra 10b; Avodah Zarah 17b).

Comparatively few halakot are preserved from him (Ta'anit ii. 5, 16b; Rosh Hashanah 27a; Tosefta, Miḳ. vi. 3; see also Yoma 78b; Menachot 54a). Haninah ingeniously proved that the Shekhinah rests on those who study the Law (Avodah Zarah iii. 2).

Martyrdom[edit]

Haninah's life proved that with him these were not empty words. During the Hadrianic persecutions decrees were promulgated imposing the most rigorous penalties on the observers of the Jewish law, and especially upon those who occupied themselves with the promulgation of that law. Nevertheless, Hananiah conscientiously followed his chosen profession; he convened public assemblies and taught Torah.

Once he visited Jose ben Kisma, who advised extreme caution, if not submission. The latter said: "Haninah, my brother, seest thou not that this Roman people is upheld by God Himself? It has destroyed His house and burned His Temple, slaughtered His faithful, and exterminated His nobles; yet it prospers! In spite of all this, I hear, thou occupiest thyself with the Torah, even calling assemblies and holding the scroll of the Law before thee." To all this Haninah replied, "Heaven will have mercy on us." Jose became impatient on hearing this, and rejoined, "I am talking logic, and to all my arguments thou answerest, 'Heaven will have mercy on us!' I should not be surprised if they burned thee together with the scroll." Shortly thereafter Haninah was arrested at a public assembly while teaching with a Torah scroll before him. Asked why he disregarded the imperial edict, he frankly answered, "I do as my God commands me."

For this he and his wife were condemned to death, and their daughter to degradation. His death was terrible. Wrapped in the scroll, he was placed on a pyre of green brush; fire was set to it, and wet wool was placed on his chest to prolong the agonies of death. "Woe is me," cried his daughter, "that I should see thee under such terrible circumstances!" Haninah serenely replied, "I should indeed despair were I alone burned; but since the scroll of the Torah is burning with me, the Power that will avenge the offense against the law will also avenge the offense against me."

His heartbroken disciples then asked: "Master, what seest thou?" He answered: "I see the parchment burning while the letters of the Law soar upward."

"Open then thy mouth, that the fire may enter and the sooner put an end to thy sufferings," advised his pupils. But Haninah replied, "It is best that He who hath given the soul should also take it away: no man may hasten his death." Thereupon the executioner removed the wool and fanned the flame, thus accelerating the end, and then himself plunged into the flames (Avodah Zarah 17b et seq.).

It is reported that, on hearing his sentence, Haninah quoted Deuteronomy 32:4, "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment"; while his wife quoted the second hemistich, "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he"; and his daughter cited Jeremiah 32:19, "Great in counsel, and mighty in work; for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Sifre, Deut. 307; Avodah Zarah loc. cit.; Semachot viii.).

Notable family members[edit]

Of the surviving members of Haninah's family are mentioned two daughters: the learned Bruriah, who became the wife of Rabbi Meir; and the one marked for degradation, whom Rabbi Meïr succeeded in rescuing (Avodah Zarah 18a).

Haninah had also a learned son. It is related that Simon ben Haninah applied to this son for information on a point of ritual, and that the latter and his sister, presumably Bruriah, furnished divergent opinions. When Judah ben Baba heard of those opinions, he remarked, "Haninah's daughter teaches better than his son" (Tosefta, Kelim, Bava Kama iv. 17).

Elsewhere it is reported of that son that he became a degenerate, associating with bandits. Subsequently he betrayed his criminal associates, wherefore they killed him and filled his mouth with sand and gravel. Having discovered his remains, the people would have eulogized him out of respect for his father, but the latter would not permit it. "I myself shall speak," said he; and he did, quoting Proverbs 5:11 et seq. The mother quoted Proverbs 17:25; the sister, Proverbs 20:17 (Lamentations Rabbah iii. 16; comp. Semachot xii.).

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography[edit]

  • W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i.397;
  • Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i.140;
  • Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 133;
  • Hamburger, R. B. T. ii.132;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, p. 32a.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainJewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.