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Rab [1]

properly Abba Arikha a noted Jewish teacher, was born at Kaphri, a small place between Sura and Nehardea, in Babylon, about A.D. 170. In early life he went in quest of knowledge into Palestine, and became one of the most favorite scholars of Jehudah the Holy (q.v.). On his return to the East he labored, some say for thirty years (between A.D. 188 and 219!, at Nehardea as meturgeman, or amorats, under Shela and Samuel; and at the close of that relationship, he entered upon the higher sphere of school rector and judge at Sura (or Sora), where he exercised those offices till the end of his life. "In this college, which was called LeRab ( ברב ), being an abbreviation of Beth-Rab ( ביתרב ), The School Of Rab , the disciples assembled two months in the year-viz. Adar and Elul in autumn and spring, for which they were denominated Yarche Kullah ( כלה ירחי ), The Months Of Assembly; and into it all the people were admitted a whole week before each principal festival, when this distinguished luminary delivered expository lectures for the benefit of the nation at large. So eager were the people to hear him, and so great were the crowds, that many could find no house accommodation, and were obliged to take up their abode in the open air ou the banks of the Sora River (Succa, 26 a).

These festival discourses were denominated rigle ( רגלי ), and during the time in which they were delivered all courts of justice were closed ( Baba Kamna , 113 a)." After holling the presidency for about twenty-eight years, Rab died in A.D. 247, lamented by the whole nation. The esteem in which he was held during his lifetime is best expressed in the title "Rab," i.e. teacher, by which they called him,just as Jehudah the Holy was called "Rabbi" or "Rabbenu" in Palestine. One of Rab's main works was the systematic exposition of the Mishna (q.v.), a copy of which, as revised and somewhat amended by Rab himself, in his later years, he had brought from Palestine. This second recension of the Slishna became the authorized or canonical form of that work, and, under the Aramaic name of Matnita ce Be-Rab, "the Mishna of the School of Rab," constituted the text of the Babylonian Talmud. But, besides his labors as an oral expositor on the Mishna, Rab was the author of two important works which greatly contributed to the advancement of Biblical exegesis. These were, Siphra or Siohras de Be-Rab, "the Book of the School of Rab" ( ספרא דבירב ), a Midrash on Leviticus; and Siphre or Siphre De Be-Rab ( ספרי דבירב ), a similar commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy. These works have, indeed, been sometimes attributed to other authors, but the greatest weight of authority assigns them to the doctor of Sura. An analysis of these works is given in the article MIDRASH, where also some of the editions are mentioned. The best edition of the Sipihra is that of M. L. Malbim, with the commentary Hatora vehamitzva (Bucharest. 1860), and that of Weiss (Vielnna, 1862); the Siphre has been best edited by M. Friedmann (ibid. 1864). Rab also enriched the present Seder Tephiloth, or Order of Common Prayers, and some of the finest prayers and thanksgivings are the production of his pen. See Grhitz, Gesch. d. Juden, 4:214, 232, 279, 289, 293; Fiurst, Kultur- u. Literaturgeschichte der Juden in Asien, p. 33 sq.; id. Bibliotheca Judaica, 3, 125 sq.; Etheridge, Introdulction to Hebrez Literature, p. 157 sq.; Ginsburg, in Kitto, art. "Iab;" De Rossi, Dizionario degli Autori Ebrei (Germ. transl. by Hamberger), p. 272 sq.; Joel, Etwas uber die Bucher Sifra und Sifre (Breslau, 1873); but above all, the excellent monograph by Milhlfelder, Rab: ein Lebensbild zur Geschichte des Talliuds (Leips. 1871). (B. P.)