ABBA UMANA


ABBA UMANA
ABBA UMANA (Heb. אַבָּא אוּמָנָה; fourth century C.E.), Babylonian bloodletter (hence his cognomen). Abba Umana was distinguished for his exceptional piety and, according to legend, daily received a greeting from the Heavenly Academy, a distinction accorded to Abbaye only once a week, and to Rava only once a year. Abbaye, grieved at not being considered as worthy as Abba Umana, was told: "You cannot do what Abba Umana does." In treating women, he conducted himself with the utmost modesty. In order not to put poor patients to shame, he arranged for his fee to be deposited in a place hidden from public view. He never accepted any remuneration from a scholar but instead would give him money to enable him to recuperate. Once Abbaye sent two sages to test him. Abba Umana gave them food and drink, and in the evening prepared mattresses for them. The following morning they took them to the market to sell. On meeting Abba Umana they asked him of what he suspected them. Abba Umana replied that when he missed the mattresses he assumed that they needed money for the redemption of captives. He refused to take the mattresses back, saying that he already devoted them to charity (Ta'an. 21b–22a). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hyman, Toledot, 10.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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