Rabbi Bana'ah

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R. Bana'ah [1](Hebrew: בנאה‎‎; or R. Benaiah, Hebrew: בניה‎‎, both derived from the word בניה, Benaia ('bniya'), lit. construction or building; Also known as הצדיק הלבן, "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan", lit. 'the white saint (Tzadik)') was a Jewish sage living in the 3rd century, during the intermediate period between the Tannaim and the Amoraim sages' eras.

He was named as such because after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem he engaged in the construction of the ruins of Jerusalem. He was also known as "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan" ('The white saint'), because it is storied that when the governor of the Jews had predestined predestination upon them to use only black chickens for the Kapparot ritual act instead of white chickens, as was customary at the time, they, for lack of any other option, bought black chickens, and went to pray on R. Bana'ah's grave, and when they returned, they found the black chickens they bought - turned white. Ever since he was also known as either "Tzadik ha-Tarnegolot" ('The chickens saint') or "Ha-Tzadik ha-Lavan" ('The white saint').

His most known saying is:

"R. Banna'ah used to say: Whosoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake his learning becomes an elixir of life to him, for it is said (Proverbs, 3:18), 'It is a tree of life to them that grasp it'; and it is further said , 'It shall be as health to thy navel' ; and it is also said (Proverbs,8:35), 'For whoso findeth me findeth life' . But, whosoever occupies himself with the Torah not for its own sake, it becomes to him a deadly poison, as it is said (Deuteronomy, 32:2), 'My doctrine shall drop as the rain', and ‘arifa‘ surely means, death, as it is said (Deuteronomy, 21:4), 'And they shall break [we'arfu] the heifer's neck there in the valley'."

— Talmud, Tractate "Taanit", 7a [2]


  1. ^ BANNAAH, BANNAY, BANNAYAH, jewishencyclopedia.com; Article
  2. ^ halakhah.com, Taanith