Judah II

Judah II

Judah II was a famous Jewish sage who lived in Tiberias in the Land of Israel, in the middle of the third century CE. He is mentioned in the classical works of Judaism's oral law, the Mishnah and Talmud.

There he is variously called "Judah," "Judah Nesi'ah" (= "ha-Nasi"), and occasionally "Rabbi" like his grandfather. As Judah III is also designated as "Judah Nesi'ah," it is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine which one of these patriarchs is referred to.

In rabbinic Jewish tradition Judah II was especially known by three ordinances decreed by him and his academy; one of these ordinances referred to a reform of the divorce laws.

Especially famous was the decree permitting the use of oil prepared by pagans, incorporated in the Mishnah with the same formula used in connection with decrees of Judah I, "Rabbi and his court permitted" (Avodah Zarah ii. 9; comp. Tosefta Avodah Zarah iv. 11). This ordinance, which abrogated an old law, was recognized as authoritative in Babylonia by Samuel and, subsequently, by Rab, who at first hesitated to accept it (see Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 41d; 'Ab. Zarah 37a).

Simlai, the famous haggadist, endeavored to induce Judah II to also abrogate the prohibition against using bread prepared by pagans. Judah, however, refused to do so, alleging that he did not wish his academy to be called the "loosing court" (Avodah Zarah 37a).

Judah could not carry out his intention of omitting the fast-day of the Ninth of Av when it fell on the Sabbath (Talmud Yerushalmi, Meg. 70b; Talmud Bavli Meg. 2b).

He was not regarded by his contemporaries as their equal in scholarship, as appears from a curious meeting between Yannai and Judah II. (see Babylonian Talmud B. B. 111a, b; another version occurs in Talmud Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 16a, where Johanan accompanies Yannai).


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