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Raba bar Rav Huna

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Raba bar Rav Huna was a Jewish Talmudist who lived in Babylonia, known as an amora of the third generation (died 322). He was the son of Rav Huna, the head of the Academy of Sura.[1]

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  • ✪ Dr Maurice Mizrahi - Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith (V'zot ha-brachah)


Dr Maurice M. Mizrahi B”H D’var Torah on V’zot Ha-Berachah Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith This week’s Torah portion, V’zot Ha-Berachah, is the 54th and last portion in the Torah, and also the shortest. It contains no commandments and is the only one that is not read on Shabbat. It is read, rather, on Simchat Torah, to conclude the annual reading cycle, and is immediately followed by a few verses from Bereshit, the first portion, to symbolize the fact that there is no break in our study of Torah. In it, the death of Moses is recorded, followed by the words: And no other prophet ever arose arose in Israel like Moses, whom God knew face to face. [Deut. 34:10] This simple statement is, in fact, one of Maimonides’ 13 principles of the Jewish faith, the 7th, to be precise. Let us pause to explore these 13 principles and trace their effect on Judaism. Maimonides, known as the Rambam, lived in 12th-century Egypt [1135-1204]. He had a rational and analytical mind, and so felt the need to champion a creed for Judaism, as other religions did. In his commentary on the Talmud, he introduced the following 13 principles of faith (‘ikkarim in Hebrew) [commentary on Sanhedrin 10]: 1. God exists and created everything, 2. God is One, 3. God has no body, 4. God is eternal, 5. God alone should be worshipped, 6. God revealed Himself through the prophets, 7. Moses was the greatest of prophets, 8. The Torah we have today is the very same one God gave us on Mount Sinai, 9. The Torah will never change, 10. God knows all our actions, 11. God rewards good and punishes evil, 12. The Messiah will come; and 13. The dead will be resurrected. The first five lay the groundwork: There is a single God, who created everything, has no body and is eternal, and nothing else must be worshipped. The 6th reminds us to listen to His prophets, who gave us necessary warnings at appropriate times. The 7th, in our portion, is that Moses was the greatest prophet. Why was there a need to make that a separate principle? The Rambam sees four reasons. First, God did not speak to the other prophets face to face. Second, God spoke to them in their sleep or when they were in a trance, not in broad daylight. Third, when God would speak to them they would lose their faculties because of the intense experience [Dan. 10:8ff, 10:16]. Fourth, they could not communicate with God whenever they wanted to. None of these obstacles applied to Moses. His legacy, accepting the revelation of the Written and Oral laws and explaining them to the people, was orders of magnitude above that of the other prophets, and deserves separate mention. The 8th principle, that the Torah we have today is the same as the Torah God gave us on Mount Sinai, is necessary to prevent people from claiming: “I am sure an error in transmission has crept in, because this passage does not make any sense, or contradicts this other passage”, etc. Once such claims are entertained, the entire Torah becomes suspicious and loses its authority. The 9th principle, that the Torah will never change and no “updates” to it are to be expected, is necessary to reject the claims of later religions, who said, “Yes, the Torah is holy and everything in it is true, but God has given us his latest update,” through Jesus, or Muhammad, or some other latter-day religious leader. This principle guards against this form of co-option. The last four principles are necessary to remind us that God did not abandon us after having given us His laws, but keeps watch over us constantly, takes appropriate action, and keeps our hopes up. They are that God knows all our actions, rewards good and punishes evil, will send a Messiah, and will resurrect the dead,. These 13 principles were controversial when proposed. Luminaries such as Hasdai Crescas and Yosef Albo asked: Is the rest of Judaism any less important? No one argued whether these principles are at the core of Judaism. They are, but many were uncomfortable with the idea of a formal creed, that would separate “real” Jews from heretics, and could be used as a litmus test to determine who is a “good” Jew. More importantly, Judaism stresses action, that is, commandments, not belief. Belief is not central, or even particularly required, in Judaism. Your thoughts are your own, and you are not accountable for them. So disagreement with the Rambam was not on whether his principles are correct, but on whether their rejection brands one a heretic, which has serious implications in Jewish law. So Jews ignored the 13 principles for many centuries. However, many traditional Jews today insist on reciting them regularly. The popular Orthodox siddur, the Artscroll, introduced in 1984, writes: Historically Judaism never separated belief from performance… However, philosophical speculation and dogmas of faith became prevalent among other religions and, in time, began to influence a number of Jews. To counteract this trend, medieval rabbinic authorities felt the need to define the principles of Judaism… [The Rambam’s version] has achieved virtually universal acceptance. It is commendable to recite these principles every day after Shacharit. [Artscroll siddur, p 242] The siddur reflects this compromise. The 13 principles are included, not as a central, canonical prayer, but in poetic form. First, the Yigdal, a poem written by Daniel ben Yehudah in 1404, is recited at the beginning of morning prayers and frequently sung at the end of formal services. In Egypt, where I grew up, the Yigdal was sung at the end of every service, perhaps because Egypt is where the Rambam lived. Second, Ani maamin, is read following morning services among some Ashkenazim. It recalls the 12th principle, the one about the coming of the Messiah: Ani maamin be-emunah shlema beviat Ha-Mashiach, ve-af ‘al pi sheyit-mahmeha, ‘im kol zeh achakeh lo bechol yom sheyavo. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, I await him every day, with all that, certain that he will come. A popular tune for it was composed by Reb Azriel David, a Modzitser Hasid, on the way to Treblinka, the Nazi extermination camp. To gain acceptance, the Rambam does not shy from issuing veiled “threats”. He writes: When a man believes all of these principles, then he enters into the community of Israel… Even if he sins greatly… he is punished according to his sins but he still has a share in the World to Come, and he is considered a sinning Jew. [But] if a man rejects [even] one of these principles, then he has left the nation… [and] is called a heretic. However, there is no such thing as a Jew being “expelled” from Judaism. The Talmud lays down the principle that a Jew remains a Jew no matter what he does: Rabbi Abba ben Zabda said: Even though [the people] have sinned, they are still 'Israel'. [Sanhedrin 44a] The Midrash even says that God Himself does not hold belief to be essential [Lamentations Rabbah, Prologue II]: Rabbi Huna and Rabbi Jeremiah said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba: It is written [in the Book of Jeremiah], ‘They have forsaken Me and have not kept My law’ [Jer. 16:11]. [This means that God said:] I wish they had forsaken Me but still kept My law, because by occupying themselves with it, the light which it contains would have led them back to the right path. In conclusion, Judaism should be viewed as a package deal. I elaborated on this in another d’var Torah. As the Mishna says: Be as scrupulous in observing a minor commandment as a major commandment, because you do not know the value of each commandment. [Pirkei Avot 2:1] L’shanah tovah! May you have a good year.

In the Talmudic Academy

He was a man of true piety[2] and genuine modesty,[3] and was urged by his father to attend Rav Chisda's lectures diligently and to profit by his acumen. At first, however, Rabbah held aloof because matters were discussed which did not appeal to his earnest nature.[4] But later he became closely associated with Rav Chisda, and was appointed judge under him;[5] subsequently the two treated of aggadic subjects together.[6]

After the death of Rav Chisda, Rabbah became the head of the Academy of Sura, though he apparently held this position without the approval of the exilarch. His general relations with the exilarchate were by no means friendly, and he declared himself independent of its authority.[7]


A number of his halakhic and aggadic teachings appear in the Talmud, including:

  • He who is insolent must be considered a transgressor.[8]
  • When one falls into a rage, he loses the respect of God.[9]
  • He who possesses learning [in the Torah], but is without the fear of God, is like a steward to whom have been given the keys of the inner storehouses but not the outer keys; he cannot gain access to the storehouses".[2]


  1. ^ Heilprin, "Seder ha-Dorot," ii. 167b
  2. ^ a b Shabbat 31a,b
  3. ^ Mo'ed Katan 28a; compare Gittin 43a
  4. ^ Shabbat 82a
  5. ^ Shabbat 10a
  6. ^ Pesachim 110a, 117a; Sotah 39a
  7. ^ Sanhedrin 5a
  8. ^ Ta'anit 7b
  9. ^ Nedarim 22b

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Rabbah b. Hana". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. It has the following bibliography:

  • Heilprin, Seder Ha'Dorot, pp. 167b, 168a, Warsaw, 1882 (Hebrew).
  • Weiss, Dor, iii. 195.
  • Bacher, Ag. Bab. Amor. pp. 62–63.
This page was last edited on 14 June 2019, at 10:54
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