Nehunya ben HaKanah
It appears from Bava Batra 10b that Neḥunya was a contemporary, but not a pupil, of Johanan ben Zakai. He was the teacher of Ishmael ben Elisha. Neḥunya was rich and had a large retinue of servants; but he was distinguished for his meekness and forgiving nature, to which he attributed his attainment of great age; two short prayers composed by him exhibit the same qualities
According to Rabbi Yochanan, Neḥunya interpreted the entire Torah by the hermeneutic rule known as the "general and particular" ("kelal u-feraṭ"), a rule which his pupil Rabbi Ishmael made the eighth of his 13 hermeneutic rules. Neḥunya is frequently mentioned in the Talmud; in Hullin 129b he is referred to disagreeing with Eliezer and Joshua in regard to a halakhah. He said that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was rescued from the Red Sea, that he repented, that he afterward reigned in Nineveh, and that it was he who in the time of Jonah exhorted the inhabitants of Nineveh to repentance. Neḥunya is known also for his ethical saying: "Whoever accepts upon him the yoke of the Torah, from him is removed the yoke of royalty and that of worldly care; and whoever throws off the yoke of the Torah, upon him is laid the yoke of royalty and that of worldly care".
As Ishmael b. Elisha, Neḥunya's disciple, is regarded by the kabbalists as their chief representative, Neḥunya is considered to have been Ishmael's teacher in mysticism also. He is generally supposed to have been the author of the daily prayer beginning אנא בכח, the initials of which form the forty-two-lettered name of God. He is also supposed by some to have been the author of the Bahir, Sefer haTemunah and of the Sefer ha-Peli'ah.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "NEḤUNYA BEN HA-ḲANAH". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography
- W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 54-56;
- Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, p. 99;
- Rabbi Jehiel ben-Szlomo Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii.;
- Moritz Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 2056 et seq.
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