HUNA

HUNA (Ḥuna), a name very common among the amoraim, especially those of Babylon. (Palestinian amoraim of that name also came from Babylon; see huna b. avin ). In the Babylonian Talmud there are no less than 60, and it occurs among the heads of the academies of Sura and Pumbedita in the geonic period (see gaon ). Apart from the outstanding amora (see below no. 2) of that name who is always referred to without his patronymic, the father's name is always given – with two or three possible exceptions. This name was also common in the family of the exilarchs from the end of the tannaitic to the end of the amoraic era, and several exilarchs were called Rav Huna or Mar Huna. The following (without patronymics) are worthy of note: (1) Rav Huna Resh Galuta (end of second century), Babylonian exilarch at the close of the tannaitic era mentioned by Judah ha-Nasi, his contemporary (Gen. R. 33:3; TJ, Ket. 12:3, 35a). Huna died during Judah's lifetime and his remains were taken to Ereẓ Israel for burial (TJ, Kil. 9:4, 32b, Gen. R. 33:3), probably to Bet She'arim , where Judah dwelt. In subsequent generations it became customary for the remains of Jews who died in the Diaspora to be taken to Bet She'arim for burial. Rav Huna is, however, the first known talmudic sage to be buried in Ereẓ Israel. (2) R. Huna (second half of the third century), one of the leaders of the second generation of Babylonian amoraim and a pillar of the Babylonian Talmud. Huna is mentioned hundreds of times in the Babylonian and frequently in the Jerusalem Talmud (also by the name Ḥuna). His great influence can be seen not only in the many halakhic and aggadic dicta transmitted in his name, but also from the many details given about his life and habits, as well as of his death and burial. According to the letter of Sherira Gaon, he died in 296 C.E. and the Talmud (MK 28a) testifies that he was an octogenarian. From one passage in the Talmud (Pes. 107a) it would appear that he was already known as a scholar in the time of Judah ha-Nasi. Huna belonged to the family of the exilarch (Letter of Sherira Gaon) and came from the town Drukeret near Sura (Ta'an. 21b). Nevertheless, in his youth he was extremely poor (Meg. 27b), worked with cattle (TJ, Sanh. 1:1, 18b), and was a farm laborer, and when he was called to give evidence or act as a judge, he had to request that a substitute be provided for him for his work (Ket. 105a; et al.). Toward the end of his life, however, he became very wealthy and the aggadah tells of his great philanthropy (Ta'an. 20b). Huna was the outstanding disciple of Rav (Shab. 128a; Beẓah 40a; BK 115a; et al.) and was largely instrumental in the decision that the halakhah follows Rav in matters of ritual law (Nid. 24b; et al.). He transmits traditions in Rav's name, and according to the Talmud statements given anonymously in the name of "the school of Rav" are to be attributed to Huna (Sanh. 17b and Tos. S.V. Ella Rav Hamnuna). Rav's great influence is also discernible in Huna's style and language. Nevertheless, he is also mentioned as "sitting at the feet" of Rav's contemporary, Samuel, and transmits statements in his name (Suk. 32b; Ar. 16b). After the deaths of Rav and Samuel, Huna was appointed head of the Sura Academy, over which he presided for more than 40 years, but apparently his bet midrash in his native Drukeret continued to function (Letter of Sherira). Many aggadot speak of the extent to which he disseminated Torah in eulogistic terms and give superlative descriptions of the vast numbers of his disciples (see, e.g., Ket. 106a). Almost   all the amoraim of the generation after him transmit his teachings, and even his contemporaries, the pupils of Rav, regarded him as an authority, asking his advice and accepting his decision (Kid. 70a; Nid. 28a; et al.). He was similarly esteemed in Ereẓ Israel (TJ, Hag. 1:8, 76c), and the religious leaders of Tiberias, Ammi and Assi, accepted his authority (Git. 59b). There are many references to his saintliness, the many fasts which he imposed upon himself (MK 25a) and the manner in which he dispensed his hospitality to the poor (Ta'an. 20b), etc. He and his colleague Ḥisda were called "the pious ones of Babylon" (Ta'an. 23b). It is stated that when he died the sages wished to place a Sefer Torah on his bier but refrained from doing so when Ḥisda informed them that Huna did not approve of such action. In his eulogy, Abba said: "Our teacher merited that the Divine presence (Shekhinah) rest upon him; that it did not was the fault of Babylon" (MK 25a). After this, the Talmud goes on to state that Rav Huna's remains – like the remains of Rav Huna the exilarch – were taken to Ereẓ Israel for burial, and Ammi and Assi, the heads of the school of Tiberias, went to meet the bier; he was buried in the cave of Ḥiyya (MK 25a; TJ, Kil. 9:4, 32b). However, it seems that this tradition in the Bavli has no historical basis, but rather is a reworking of the earlier tradition concerning Rav Huna the exilarch, which was appended to the original Babylonian tradition concerning the death of our Rav Huna by later editors (Friedman). Of Huna's sons, the amora Rabbah b. Huna is known (Meg. 27b). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bacher, Pal Amor; Bacher, Bab Amor, 52ff.; Hyman, Toledot, 336ff; S. Friedman, in: Saul Lieberman Memorial Volume (Hebrew) (1993), 146–163. (Shmuel Safrai)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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