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Rabbi Simlai (Hebrew: רבי שמלאי) was a talmudic sage who lived in Palestine in the 3rd century (second generation of amoraim).

He was born in either Lod[1] or Babylonia.[2] He later moved to the Galilee, where he served as an aide to Rabbi Yannai.[3] He then studied under Rabbi Judah II, the grandson of Judah haNasi. He attempted in vain to induce Judah II to abrogate the prohibition against using bread prepared by pagans.[4] Late in life he moved to Babylonia.[5]

He was a famous aggadist, and the calculation of 613 Mitzvot is attributed to him.[6] According to the Palestinian tradition, he frequently debated the Christians.[7]


  1. ^ Pesachim 62b
  2. ^ Pesachim 5:3
  3. ^ Bava Batra 111a
  4. ^ Avodah Zarah 37a
  5. ^ Avodah Zarah 36; Yerushalmi Shabbat 1:4
  6. ^ Abrahams, Israel (1907). Judaism (pdf). London: Archibald Constable & co. ltd. p. 28.
  7. ^ [[Genesis Rabbah 8:9; Yerushalmi Brachot 9:1