More on Rav Yehuda bar Yehezkel


Rav Yehudah cites the opinions of Rav and of Shmuel and is depicted as having been regarded by both as an especially talented student. However, Yehudah’s brother, Rami bar Yehezkel, reported in Israel that his brother’s citations are unreliable (B. Ketubot 21a has Rami declare Yehudah’s citations of Shmuel unreliable; B. Hullin 44a that his citations of Rav are unreliable). He was a contemporary of Rav Huna’s and outlived him by only a few years. Rav Yehudah founded the Rabbinic academy at Pumbedita (modern day Fallujah). Along with Sura, this academy flourished for 800 years. There is at least one instance of Rav Yehudah knowing Rav Sheshet (in B. Yev. 11b he asks Sheshet a question) and there is an instance where Rav Sheshet disparages the learning methodology at Pumbidita (B. Metzia 38b). He instructed the Pumbeditans to blatantly ignore a ruling from Israel reported by Ulla. He had the women of his household wear tzitzit; and he prayed only once every thirty days.

Rabbi Zera was avoiding Rav Yehudah because he wanted to make aliyah but Rav Yehudah held that making aliyah violates Jewish Law, as it is written, “They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be, until the day that I remember them, says the Lord. (Jer. 27:22)… Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel, “As it is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel for Babylon so it is forbidden to leave Babylonfor other countries.” … Rav Yehudah said: Whoever lives in Babylon is credited as though he lived in the Land of Israel; as it is written, “Escape, Zion, dwelling with the daughter of Babylon.” (Zech. 2:11)


-         B Ketuvot  111. (Rav Abba also due to his desire to make aliyah avoided Rav Yehudah, even going so far as to listen to his lectures by hiding outside the window of the study hall – B Berachot 24:)


There was a man from Nehardea who was in a butcher shop in Pumbedita. He said, “Bring me meat.” They said to him, “Wait until the servant of Rav Yehudah bar Yehezkel takes and we will give to you.” He said, “Who is Yehudah bar Sheveskel that he should come before me and take before me?” They went and told Rav Yehudah. Rav Yehudah excommunicated him. They told Rav Yehudah that this man regularly calls others “slaves.” Rav Yehudah made a proclamation that the man was a slave. The man summoned Rav Yehudah to appear for judgment before Rav Nachman. The note of summons was brought. Rav Yehudah went to Rav Huna and said, “Do I go or do I not go?” Rav Huna said to him, “You are not required to go, for you are a distinguished individual (“Gavra Rabba”), but because of the honor due the house of the Nasi arise and go.” Rav Yehudah came and found Rav Nachman building a parapet. Rav Yehudah said to him, “Don’t you sir agree with what is said in the name of Shmuel that once a person has been appointed leader of the community it becomes forbidden for him to perform physical work in the presence of three people?” Rav Nachman answered, “I’m just making a little balustrade.” Rav Yehudah said, “What’s wrong with “maakeh” which is found in the Torah, or with “mechitza” which is used by the rabbis?” Rav Nachman said, “Sir, have a seat on the pallet.” Rav Yehudah replied, “What’s wrong with “safsal” (“bench”) which is used by rabbis, or with “itzteba” which is the slang?” [More of the same; eat an “etronga” instead of “etrog,” etc. Rav Yehudah cites Shmuel as banning Rav Nachman’s offer to have a girl named “Donag” serve beverages and he spurns Rav Nachman’s offer to send greetings to Yalta or to send them via a messenger.] Rav Nachman said, “How about sending a woman greetings via her husband?” Rav Yehudah replied that this too is forbidden by Shmuel. Rav Nachman’s wife sent a message to Rav Nachman, “Deal with his complaint so that he does not equate you with a leftover ignoramus.” Rav Nachman said to Rav Yehudah, “Sir, what brings you here?” He replied, “Sir, you subpoenaed me.” He said, “I haven’t learned the way you talk, and I would have sent you a subpoena?” He produced the subpoena and said, “Here is the subpoena and here is the man.” Rav Nachman said, “Now that you sir are present, state your case, lest they say favoritism is showed the rabbis.” [Under questioning from Rav Nachman, Rav Yehudah justifies his actions concerning the man in the butcher shop. The Talmud reports that “many ketubot in Nehardea were ripped up that day.” Rav Yehudah leaves and a crowd of angry Nehardeans follows him and threaten to stone him. He pacifies them by declaring some families “impure” but others “pure.” They deposit their stones in the river.]


-         B Kiddushin 70: (Zohiates identifies the “pallet” - “krabatos” – as a simple, small couch used by the poor with either a thin quilt or mattress, or no covering at all – from McKee, Torah in the Balance… 2003)


Prayed only once every 30 days  (B. Rosh Hashanah 35.)


Women of his household wore tzitzit (B. Menachot 43.)


Instructed Pumbeditans to flagrantly violate Israeli  ruling re Shabbat before Ulla “in your face” (B. Shabbat 147.)


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