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See Rabbi Yochanan for more rabbis by this name.


Rabbi Yochanan (also known as Rabbi Yochanan bar Nafcha "Rabbi Yochanan son [of the] blacksmith," Hebrew: יוחנן בר נפחא)(died c. 279) was a rabbi in the early era of the Talmud. He was born in Tzipporimarker in the Land of Israel. His father, a blacksmith, died prior to his birth, and his mother died soon after; he was raised by his grandfather in Tzipporimarker.

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi took the boy under his wing and taught him Torah. Due to the disparity in ages, though — Yochanan was only fifteen years old when Rabbi Yehuda died — Yochanan was not one of Rabbi Yehuda's prime students; rather, he studied more under Rabbi Yehuda's students. He studied Torah diligently all his life, even selling what he had inherited from his parents in order to be able to devote his time to study; after that was spent, he lived a life of poverty.

When the time came to start teaching Torah, Rabbi Yochanan decided to move from Tzippori to Tiberiasmarker, so as not to show disrespect to great rabbis in Tzippori who did not have their own centers of Torah study. He was considered, however, the greatest rabbi in the Land of Israel, and was even esteemed in the other center of Torah Jewry, Babylonia — so much so that after the deaths of Rav and Shmuel in Babylonia, Rabbi Yochanan was considered by Babylonian Jews as the greatest rabbi of the generation. He started a school in Tiberiasmarker, and let anybody in if they wanted to learn, a controversial move at the time. He laid the foundations for the Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud). He cites many traditions relating to the destruction of the Second Temple.

His colleague, Simeon ben Lakish, was also his brother-in-law. He was the first person to disagree with some of the Mishnah and want it changed. He was a very independent man and a creative thinker.

Rabbi Yochanan's method in deciding halakha was to establish broad rules that apply in many cases; for example, he held that the halakha always follows a s'tam mishna (an undisputed anonymous mishna), and he had rules for which tannamarker ("Mishnah teacher") to follow in cases of dispute.

He is believed to have never left Palestine in all his life, a rare feat for rabbis in those days, who frequently visited Babylonia. Rabbi Yochanan was known for his beauty and reportedly lived more than one hundred years.

Eleazar ben Pedat succeeded R' Yochanan as head of the Tiberias school.

See also



References

  • Margaliyot, Mordekhai, ed. Entziklopedya l'chachme haTalmud v'hag'onim (2d ed., vol. 1). Jerusalem, 1945 or 1946.
  • Gross, Moses David. Avos hadoros: monografyot al avos haMishna v'haTalmud (5th ed.). Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1966.



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