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219 ABBA ARIKA (RAV) (175-247) (Babylon)

The word "Rav" means master. He was a student of Judah HaNasi and after his death, he opened the Torah academy at Sura, which became one of the pillars of Babylonian Jewry. At its peak, over 1,200 students studied there. The beginning of the third century saw a rise in Jewish activities and a decline in the supremacy of Israel. The decline was due to the constant despoiling of Israel by the weakened Roman army and the rise of another ruler in Palmyra (ancient city of central Syria), who heavily taxed the inhabitants of Israel, reducing them to poverty. This directly affected support for schools of learning, which soon migrated to quieter, more tolerant, and more affluent shores. Rav was noted for improving moral and intellectual positions through his responsa (ordinances), including a ban on marriage without courtship and forbidding fathers to betroth a daughter without her consent. These responsa came in the form of questions. They became a popular way of maintaining contact with dispersed communities and, in various contexts, they still continue today.




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