BEBAI BAR ABBAYE (fourth century), Babylonian amora. Bebai was a son of abbaye , head of the Pumbedita academy, and studied under him and R. joseph . He served as dayyan in Pumbedita and appears to have succeeded his father (Yev. 75b). According to the Talmud (Ket. 85a) his colleagues R. papi and R. Huna b. Joshua , who sat with him as judges, at times opposed his rulings with the words, "Because you are a descendant of short-lived people your words are incomplete, lacking a beginning and making no sense" (referring to his descent from Eli the priest whose descendants were condemned to die young, cf. I Sam. 2:32; see Arukh, S.V. mal). However, R. Papi greatly respected him, referring to him as "master" even in his absence (Ḥul. 43b). Bebai was a prosperous farmer, leasing land in addition to his own (BM 109a; BB 137b). Many legends are related of him. According to one, the angel of death visited him frequently and disclosed to him the secrets of the other world (Ḥag. 4b–5a). Another relates that he perceived demons at work, and was stricken down, whereupon the scholars prayed for him and effected his recovery (Ber. 6a). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hyman, Toledot, 265f. (Yitzhak Dov Gilat)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • GAON — (pl. Geonim), formal title of the heads of the academies of Sura and Pumbedita in Babylonia. The geonim were recognized by the Jews as the highest authority of instruction from the end of the sixth century or somewhat later to the middle of the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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