Abba Saul

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For the first Generation Tanna sage with a similar name, see Abba Saul ben Batnit.

Tomb of Abba Saul and his wife

Abba Saul (Hebrew: אבא שאול‎‎, Abba Shaul) was a fourth generation Tanna (Jewish sage). His elder contemporary was Rabbi Akiva. Many Masoretes in the Talmud cite him engaging in the topics of the Temple in Jerusalem and the holy work done there.

He was tall at sight, and the Talmud (Babylonian, Tractate "Niddah" 61a) depicts R. Tarfon reaching only up to R. Saul's shoulder. Saul was a grave-digger. (Babylonian, Tractate Niddah 24b)

In the Talmud, Tractate "Yebamoth" (Levirate marriage), Abba Saul was stringent, and demanded that a levir (a "Yabbam", the brother of the deceased) should have pure-sacred intentions:

"Abba Saul said, ‘If [a levir] married his sister-in-law on account of her beauty, or in order to gratify his desires, or with any other ulterior motive, it is as if he has infringed [the law of] incest; and I am even inclined to think that the child [from such a union] is a bastard [ Mamzer ]’."

— Babylonian Talmud, Tractate "Yebamoth", 109a

Abba Saul opined that in his days there was nowhere to be found a levir with a mitzvah (commandment) intention, and thus he revokes the commandment of the yibbum, replacing it with the Halizah.

Tanna Abba Saul was a proponent of Judaism's version of imitatio dei. "Abba Saul interpreted, and I will be like him: be thou like Him: just as He is gracious and compassionate, so be thou gracious and compassionate." (Babylonian, Tractate Shabbat 133b).[1]