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767 ANAN BEN DAVID (Babylon)

Founded the Karaite (Bnai Mikra) sect. He was originally supposed to become the Exilarch, but his younger brother, Hanina, was chosen instead by the incumbent Geonim, Judah the blind and Dudai. Anan left for Eretz Israel where he established a synagogue in Jerusalem. The Karaite sect believed only in literal Biblical translations and not in the Oral law. The Karaites considered themselves mourners of Zion, abstaining from wine and meat, spending much of their time in fasting and prayer, and signing all letters "mourner" (avilai tzion). The Karaite sect divided Judaism into two bitterly opposed camps. Some, including Sa'adia Gaon and Abraham ibn David, wrote treatises refuting and condemning the sect. The Karaites slowly diminished in numbers and influence, with the few remaining mostly living in Lithuania and Volhynia. For the most part they disappeared during the Holocaust. Their greatest opponent - who succeeded in stemming the spread of Karaitism - was Sa'adia ben Joseph (882-942). The power of the Exilarch was weakened as a result of the Anan conflict. From then on the Geonim had the final say on all religious matters.




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