Rabbi, Deceased Person
0278 – 0338
Who was Abaye?
Abaye was a rabbi of the Jewish Talmud who lived in Babylonia [בבל], known as an amora [אמורא] born about the close of the third century; died 339. His father, Kaylil, was the brother of Rabbah bar Nachmani, a teacher at the Academy of Pumbedita. Abaye's real name was Nachmani, after his grandfather. Left an orphan at an early age, he was adopted by his uncle, Rabbah bar Nachmani, who nicknamed him Abaye, to avoid confusion with his grandfather of the same name; thenceforth he was known as Abaye, without any other title. It is a curious fact that he perpetuated the memory of his foster-mother by mentioning her name in many popular recipes and dietetic precepts, some of which seem to be based on superstitious notions. He introduced each recipe with the phrase, "My mother told me." Abaye's teachers were his uncle Rabbah and Joseph bar Chama, both of whom successively became presidents of the Pumbedita Academy. When Joseph died, this dignity was conferred upon Abaye, who retained it until his death some five years later. Rabbah trained him in the application of the dialectic method to halakhic problems, and Joseph, with his stores of traditional lore, taught him to appreciate the value of positive knowledge.
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