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Pumbedita Academy

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Title: Pumbedita Academy  
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Subject: Jewish history, Geonim, Chazal, Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, Jewish education
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Pumbedita Academy

Pumbedita is located in Iraq
Country Iraq

Pumbedita Academy (sometimes Pumbeditha, Pumpedita, or Pumbedisa; Hebrew: ישיבת פומבדיתא) was a Jewish Yeshiva academy in Babylon, during the era of the Jewish Amora and Geonim sages. The academy was founded at the beginning of the second generation of the Amora era, by R. Judah ben Ezekiel, and was active as an influential and dominant Jewish academy for about 800 years, along with the Sura Academy.

Pumbedita's Milestones

After Abba Arika ("Rav") and Samuel of Nehardea died, at the end of the 1st generation of the Amoraim, along with the designation of Rav Huna as dean of the Yeshiva Academy of Sura, R. Judah ben Ezekiel went to Pumbedita city and had established a new Yeshiva there, the Pumbedita Yeshiva Academy, that was active for about 800 years, during the course of the Amora, Savora, and Geonim eras, and up until the days of Hai Gaon. The city of Pumbedita was previously settled by Jews for a long time before the academy's establishment, since the days of Second Temple of Jerusalem.[1] Pumbedita city was situated on the Bedita river, that was a Stream of the Euphrates river, on the waterside (Pum = in Aramic "mouth" or "lips") of Bedita river, and thus it was named Pumbedita. The modern-day city of Fallujah stands in its place.

At the time, the academies of Pumbedita and Sura became the most influential and dominant Yeshivas of the Jewish communities' world, and all Torah decrees and other religious rulings were issued from these Yeshivas to all the Jewish diaspora. The Pumbedita academy served as a field of growth to the greatest Jewish sages for generations to come, among them: Rabbah bar Nahmani ("Rabbah"), Rav Yosef b. Hiyya, Abaye and Amora sage Rava, Savora Rabbah Jose and Simuna, and Geonim Rab Rabbah Gaon and Paltoi ben Abbaye Gaon, as well as Rav Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon. The Yeshiva academy of Pumbedita was at its peak during the 3d and 4th generation of the Amora sages era. During the days of the Amora sage Rava, the academy of Pumbedita was relocated to Mahuza (Hebrew: מחוזא), but after his death it was moved back to Pumbedita city.

Along with the sealing of the Talmud, by Ravina II (at Sura city), the era of the Savora sages has began (years 499-589; ד'ר"ס - ד'שמ"ט Hebrew calendar), in which most part of that period, proper studying on regular basis did not take place in Sura Academy (only in Pumbedeita), due to pogroms against the Jewish community in Sura. After the pogroms reached Pumbedeita as well, the heads of the Yeshiva had to move the Pumbedeita academy to Firuz Shapur (Hebrew: פירוז שבור) for a course of around 50 years, until it was reinaugurated by R. Hanan of Iskiya at Pumbedeita city in year 589 (ד'שמ"ט; Hebrew calendar).

During the era of the Geonim, the two Talmudic academies were correspondingly active as well. One of Pumbedita's Gaon's (a title for the deans of these academies during the Geonim era), R. Hai ben R. David (approximately in years 898-890; ד'תר"נ- ד'תרנ"ח Hebrew calendar), moved the academy to Baghdad, because during his period, the number of Jews making a living from agriculture grew smaller, and they were constantly moving to the big cities, mainly to Baghdad (apart from the phenomenon of the Jewish Emigration, settling out side of Babylonia). However, the academy's name remained "Pumbedita academy", despite its relocation. The last blooming period for Pumbedita academy took place during the days of Rav Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon, towards the end of the era of the Geonim sages. Thousands of letters with Halachic issues attached were received at Pumbedita, addressed to the heads of the academy, and from all around the Jewish diaspora, and the Geonim of the academy worked hard to respond to their questions. Along with R. Hai Gaon's death (approximately in year 1038; ד'תשצ"ח Hebrew calendar), the era of the Geonim has ended. Exilarch Hezekiah ben David was appointed dean of the academy of Pumbedita, the only man to be simultaneously a Gaon and the Exilarch. However, 20 years after the latter event, Hezekiah ben David was executed in torture by the Muslem caliph, and the Pumbedita academy was closed.[2]

List of Pumbedita academy's Deans

Rabbinical Eras

Amora era

Savora era

Geonim era [3][4]

See also


  1. ^ Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon, in accordance with Babylon Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah, 23b
  2. ^ According to Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon & "Sefer ha-Qabbalah", by Abraham ibn Daud
  3. ^ The list names in accordance with Hebrew WorldHeritage; & Jewish Encyclopedia - Gaon- Synchronistic List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita
  4. ^ a b The list dates are in accordance with the work of Prof. Moshe Gil, "Kingdom of Israel in the Gaonic era", 1997 (Hebrew). Some of the information concerning the dates are based on factual sources, however, some are based on premises, in the absence of authoritative sources or due to contradiction between sources. There is a dispute among the scholars concerning some of the dates, and not all is agreed upon.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages", Moshe Gil, p. 404 - A Chronological List of the Geonim of Sura and Pumbedita

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