A Savora (Hebrew: [savoˈʁa]; Aramaic: סבורא, "a reasoner", plural Savora'im, Sabora'im [savoʁaˈʔim], סבוראים) is a term used in Jewish law and history to signify one among the leading rabbis living from the end of period of the Amoraim (around 500 CE) to the beginning of the Geonim (around 600 CE). As a group they are also referred to as the Rabbeinu Sevorai or Rabanan Saborai, and may have played a large role in giving the Talmud its current structure. Modern scholars also use the plural term Stammaim (Hebrew; "closed, vague or unattributed sources") for the authors of unattributed statements in the Gemara.
Role in the formation of the Talmud
Much of classical rabbinic literature generally holds that the Babylonian Talmud was redacted into more or less its final form around 550 CE. In the introduction to his Mishnah Torah, Maimonides writes that Rav Ashi compiled the Babylonian Talmud. He also writes that Ravina and Rav Ashi (Amoraim, who are mentioned in the Talmud) were the final sages of Israel who transcribed the Oral Torah. However, some statements within classical rabbinic literature, and later analysis thereof, have led many scholars to conclude that the Babylonian Talmud was smoothed over by the Savora'im, although almost nothing was changed. Occasionally, multiple versions of the same legalistic discussion are included with minor variations. The text also states that various opinions emanated from various Talmudic academies.
Sherira Gaon (c.987 CE) indicates that Rav Yose was the final member of the Savora'im. Occasionally, specific Savora'im are mentioned by name in the Talmud itself, such as Rabbi Ahai, who (according to later authority Rashbam) was a Savora.
View of Rabbi Meir Triebitz
Rabbi Triebitz discusses the ‘chasimas hashas’ - the final compilation of the Talmud. The Talmud says that Ravina and Rav Ashi were the ‘end of instruction’ which is understood by many to mean that they compiled the Talmud. Yet there are statements in the Talmud referring to later generations. And according to Rav Sherira Gaon the Talmud was not in its final form until many generations later.
View of David Weiss Halivni
The role of the Savoraim in the redaction of the Talmud was reexamined in Jewish academia because of the work of David Weiss Halivni, author of Mekorot u'Mesorot, a projected ten volume source-critical commentary on the Talmud.
Halivni terms the editors of the Talmud as Stamma'im, a new term for rabbis that he places after the period of the Tannaim and Amoraim, but before the Geonic period. He concludes that to a large extent, the Stamma'im essentially wrote the Gemara (the discussions in the Talmud about the Mishna). Halivni posits that during the time of Ravina and Rav Ashi, they compiled a Gemara that was much smaller than the Gemara known today, and which likely was similar to the Mishna and to the Tosefta. He sees this proto-Gemara as a compilation of rulings that probably had little record of discussions. Halivni also posits that the Stamma'im did not always fully understand the context and import of the statement of the Tanna or Amora when it was said. The methodology employed in his commentary, Mekorot u' Mesorot, will attempt to give Halivni's analysis of the correct import and context and will demonstrate how the Talmud erred in its understanding of the original context.
- Oesterley, W. O. E. & Box, G. H. (1920) A Short Survey of the Literature of Rabbinical and Mediæval Judaism, Burt Franklin:New York.
- Maimondes, Introduction to Mishneh Torah
- Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations Shalom Carmy, Ed. The Orthodox Forum Series, Jason Aronson, Inc.
- Berkovits E., "Savora'im". In: Encyclopedia Judaica (first edition) Keter Publishing, 1972
- Machon Shlomo
- David Weiss Halivni Peshat and Drash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis Oxford University Press, NY, 1991