Rav Nachman bar Yaakov (Hebrew: רב נחמן בר יעקב; died 320) was a Jewish Talmudist who lived in Babylonia, known as an Amora of the third generation, and pupil of Samuel of Nehardea. He was chief justice of the Jews who were subject to the exilarch (the political head of the Babylonian Jewish community), and was also head of the school of Nehardea. On the destruction of that town, he transferred his pupils to Shekanẓib.
His marriage with the daughter of the wealthy exilarch enabled him to live in luxury and to entertain scholars and strangers lavishly. Thus Rav Isaac of Palestine, who visited Babylon, stayed at Rav Nachman's house and enjoyed his hospitality. When the guest, upon leaving, was asked by his host to bless him, the former answered with the beautiful parable of the tree which sheltered the weary traveler beneath its shade and fed him with its fruit, so that the grateful wanderer blessed it with the words, "May thy scions be like unto thee." "And I," added Rav Isaac, "can bless you, who are blessed with material and spiritual wealth, only with the prayer that your scions too may be like you" (Ta'anit 5b-6a).
Rav Nachman used many collections of aggadot (Berakhot 23b). He was fond of collecting in one passage a number of Aramaic aphorisms (see Yoma 28b-29a), and used sturdy popular expressions in his speech (Chullin 12a, 172a; Ta'anit 24a). His haggadic remarks relating to Biblical personages were likewise made in this style, as the following specimens show:
"Shamelessness avails even in the face of Heaven; for God allowed Balaam to make the journey to Balak after He had forbidden it" (In the original, "חוצפא אפילו כלפי שמיא מהני מעיקרא כתיב לא תלך עמהם ולבסוף כתיב קום לך אתם" (Sanhedrin 105a).
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography
- Hamburger, R.B.T. ii.819 et seq.;
- Bacher, Ag. Bab. Amor. pp. 79–83;
- Seder ha-Dorot, pp. 283 et seq.