Rav Safra

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Safra[1][2] (or Rav Safra[3] or Rab Safra;[4][5] Hebrew: רב ספרא; around 280-338) was a prominent Babylonian Amora of the fourth generation of the amoraic era. Safra studied under R. Abba,[6] then went abroad with two colleagues, R. Kahana and R. Huna the son of R. Ika.[7] He debated the Halakha with Abaye and Rava, and was most probably a disciple of Rava, who would sometimes impose various tasks upon him.[8]

He engaged in trading,[9] and in his business would go in dangerous places.[10] One of his business partners was Issur Giora (Issur the proselyte), father of R. Mari b. Rachel (b. samuel), and the son-in-law of Samuel of Nehardea.[11] On the other hand, he was known as a man who does not waste a moment, so much so that on that ground, Rava's Rabbinical court ruled that concerning the law of Tefisat habayit,[12] which stipulates that income and expenses caused by one of the brothers during their "home occupancy" status of the house, belongs to each one equally. If one of the brothers invested in the assets, it is assumed that he probably did it for everybody, and the revenues will also belong to all brothers. Rav Safra had invested in his father's assets, and when his brother sued him before the Rava's court, Rava ruled that when a busy person like Rav Safra is investing in assets, it is clear that the investment is for himself only, since such a person who does not waste any moment of his time, does not have any time to invest for others.[13]

Rav Safra was known for his honesty, and he is mentioned in the Midrash as an example of someone that does not change the truth and keeps his word, even his thoughts. For example, it is storied that once he was approached by a prospective buyer who wanted to buy Safra's merchandise, but Safra was in the midst of reciting the Shema prayer, and thus could not reply. The buyer, interpreting Safra's refusal to interrupt his prayers as a sign of disapproval of the price offered, raised his bids. However, when Safra had completed his prayers, he insisted on taking the price first offered. Since he was quietly pleased with the price offered during his reciting, he would not raise the price, and thus concluded the buyer should pay the initial lower price.[14]

Tractate Kiddushin[15] depicts how he prepared to Shabbat while especially being careful to honor it and prepare its cuisines by himself "R. Safra would singe the head [of an animal]" - by himself he singed the head of the animal for the Shabbat dinner.

Rav Safra was single most or all of his life.[16]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ SAFRA, Jewish Virtual Library; Article
  2. ^ TANNAIM AND AMORAIM, jewishencyclopedia.com; Article, list(Johanan (brother of Safra; B))
  3. ^ Parshat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, Orthodox Union
  4. ^ TANNAIM AND AMORAIM:, jewishencyclopedia.com; Article, list (Dimi (brother of Rab Safra; B; 4))
  5. ^ Truth and integrity, rabbibitton.blogspot.com
  6. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesahim, 51b
  7. ^ babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesahim, 51b
  8. ^ babylonian Talmud, Tractate Zebahim, 116b
  9. ^ see sources below
  10. ^ babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Kamma, 116a
  11. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Metzia, 31b
  12. ^ brothers who are partners in an interim period of a process of receiving an inheritance of a descendant's estate
  13. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra, 144a
  14. ^ Cited in Rashi, Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Makkot, 22a
  15. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin, 41a
  16. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesahim, 113a