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658 - 1000 GEONIC AGE (Babylon)

The task of the Geonim, was to broaden the study of Talmud and emphasize its practical application. The two great academies, Sura and Pumbedita, once again became the center of Jewish intellectual life. They established their influence by inviting questions (shealot) on Jewish law from far flung communities and sending answers (teshuvot). The exact date for the beginning of this period was probably the Arab conquest of Babylonia in 657, with the first Gaon being Mar Isaac, head of the Sura academy. Others believe that it began around 589 C.E. with Ravai of Pumbedita. The last Goan of prominence was, Hai Gaon, who died in 1038. The title Gaon eventually became used to describe someone who had a great knowledge of Torah.




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