Palestinian amora of the third and fourth centuries. He is found under the name "Nappaḥa" only in the Babylonian Talmud, not in the Palestinian. As a haggadist he stands in the foremost rank of his contemporaries. In the Babylonian Talmud he is identified with various other Yiẓḥaḳs (Pes. 113b), and since that was due to the arbitrary action of a later amora, the real name of his father can no longer be determined. As regards the name "Nappaḥa" (the smith), there had been an older Yiẓḥaḳ of the same name, who was rich and who is said to have owned five courts in Usha; it has not yet been possible, however, to ascertain any relationship between the two, and if the elder was an ancestor of this Yiẓḥaḳ, the latter could well have inherited the name without ever having practised the trade. In the later midrashic literature he is called Yiẓḥaḳ Nappaḥa, whereas the older works call him only R. Yiẓḥaḳ.Relations with Johanan.
Although he was a pupil of Johanan, his associations with the latter are indicated in only one passage (B. M. 24b), which tells of his once appearing before Johanan. As a traditionist of the haggadah of Johanan, he appears only in the Babylonian Talmud (Ber. 62b). He was in Babylonia only temporarily, probably soon after the death of Johanan; and while there he visited in the house of the exilarch (M. Ḳ. 24b), together with Sheshet (ib. 24b) and Joseph (R. H. 3b; Shab. 52b). Raba quoted in his name (Ber. 32a; Tem. 15a); but sometimes tradition maintains that it is uncertain whether the sayings originated with Yiẓḥaḳ or with Raba (Sanh. 94a; Ned. 39a; Naz. 23b). Rabbin bar Adda also cites in his name (Ber. 6a; Pes. 8b). Hishome was originally in Cæsarea, but he afterward went to Tiberias to live. He associated intimately with Ammi, with whom he often discussed halakic questions (Soṭah 34a; Men. 11b; Ḥag. 26a; Ber. 41a; Yoma 42b); and together they sometimes rendered decisions in matters pertaining to religious law (Ḥul. 48b; Ned. 57b; Ber. 27a). Yiẓḥaḳ, Abbahu, and Ḥanina bar Pappai constituted a board of judges (Ket. 84b; 'Ab. Zarah 39b; Ber. 38a, b; B. Ḳ. 117b; Giṭ. 29b). Ḥelbo referred to Yiẓḥaḳ two liturgical questions addressed to him from Galilee: the first question he answered immediately; the second he expounded publicly in the seminary (Giṭ. 60a). A thesis on the creation of light, formulated anonymously, was made public by R. Yiẓḥaḳ (Gen. R. iii., beginning). He also engaged in haggadic discussions with the celebrated Levi (Gen. R. xix. 14; Pesiḳ. R. xxiii., beginning; Ber. 4a; Yer. Ta'an. 65b); with Abba b. Kahana (Gen. R. xliii. 7; Lev. R. ii. 1; Midr. Teh. to Ps. xlix. 1); with Aḥa (Pesiḳ. R. xv.; Gen. R. v. 7; Yer. Pe'ah 15d); and with Ḥiyya bar Abba (Lev. R. xx. 7; Pesiḳ. R. xxii.). Among those who transmitted in the name of Yiẓḥaḳ were the famous halakist Haggai, the latter's sons Jonathan and Azariah (Gen. R. xxii. 18, xl. 6; Midr. Shemuel xxii., end), and Luliani ben Ṭabrin (Gen. R. passim; Midr. Teh. to Ps. xxiv. 4; Yer. Meg. 75c).
That Yiẓḥaḳ was a great authority on the Halakah, as well as on the Haggadah, is shown by an anecdote which is told and according to which Ammi and Assi would not let him speak, because the one wished to hear Halakah and the other Haggadah (B. Ḳ. 60b). So after telling them the celebrated story of the man who had two wives, one of whom pulled out all his white hairs because she was young, whereas the other extracted his black hairs because she was old, R. Yiẓḥaḳ presented to them a haggadah with a halakic background, in order to satisfy both at the same time. Yiẓḥaḳ, however, devoted himself to the Haggadah with more zeal, because he regarded it as a necessity in the adverse circumstances of the Jews. The poverty of the Palestinians had increased to such an extent that people no longer waited for the harvest, but ate the green ears of wheat (Gen. R. xx. 24); consequently they were in need of comfort and refreshment of soul (Pes. 101b). Yiẓḥaḳ tried to make his lectures as effective as possible, and they show him to have been an unusually forceful rhetorician and a skilful exegete.His Sayings.
Yiẓḥaḳ's haggadic material may be divided according to contents into the following four groups: I. Proverbs and dicta: concerning sins (Suk. 52a, b; Ḥag. 16a; Ḳid. 31a; Ber. 25a; R. H. 16b; Yoma 87a; B. B. 9b; Pes. 190b); concerning the relation of man to God (Ned. 32a; Soṭah 48b; Ruth R. i. 2); on the relation of man to his fellow beings (B. M. 42a; Meg. 28a; B. Ḳ. 93a); concerning prayer (Pes. 181a; Lev. R. xxx. 3; Midr. Shemuel i. 7; R. H. 16b; Yer. Ḳid. 61b; Yer. Ned. 41b); concerning study and the Law (Pes. 193a, b; Meg. 6b; Lev. R. ii. 1; Sanh. 21b, 24a; Ḥul. 91a; Yoma 77a); concerning Israel (Pes. 165a; Gen. R. lxiii. 8); concerning the nations (Esther R. i. 10; Lev. R. i. 14; Ex. R. xxxviii. 3); concerning Jerusalem (Pesiḳ. R. xli. 1; Pes. 6a). II. Exegesis: general (Sanh. 82a, 89a, 95b; Tem. 16a; Yer. R. H. 57c; Gen. R. liii. 20; Ḥul. 91b; Soṭah 48b; B. B. 16a); halakic (Ber. 13b; Giṭ. 59b; Pes. 31b; Yoma 77a; Yer. Soṭah 17a); Biblical personages (Gen. R. xxxiv. 11, xxxix. 7, lviii. 7; Yeb. 64a); Biblical narratives (Soṭah 34a; Deut. R. xi. 2; B. B. 91a; Midr. Teh. to Ps. vii. 13; Sanh. 106b; Men. 53b; Esther R. iii. 9; Pesiḳ. R. xxxv. 1). III. Homiletics (Gen. R. xix. 6, xxxviii. 7; Sanh. 96a; B. M. 87a; Yer. Soṭah 17b; Ex. R. xliii. 4; Sanh. 102a; Ber. 63b; Eccl. R. iii. 19; Tem. 16a; Yer. Ta'an. 65b; Hor. 10b). IV. Proems (Gen. R. iii. 1, lix. 2, lxv. 7; Pes. 101b; Ex. R. xxxii. 5; Lev. R. xii. 2); maxims (Gen. R. lvi. 1; Deut. R. ii. 27; Lev. R. xxxiv. 8); similes (Yer. R. H. 57b; Lev. R. v. 6; Ex. R. xv. 16; Yer. Ber. 13a; B. B. 74b); Messianic subjects (Eccl. R. i. 11; Deut. R. i. 19; 'Ab. Zarah 3b); eschatology (Lev. R. xiii. 3; Midr. Teh. to Ps. xlix. 1; Shab. 152a; B. M. 83b).
According to the unanimous testimony of several writers of the tenth century, the gaon Hai b. David ascribed to Yiẓḥaḳ Nappaḥa the calculation of the Rabbinite calendar. The only fact known concerning Yiẓḥaḳ's family is that his daughter married the Babylonian amora Pappa (Ḥul. 110a).
- Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor. ii. 205-295;
- Frankel, Mebo, pp. 106b-107a;
- Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ii., s.v.;
- S. Pinsker, Liḳḳuṭe Ḳadmoniyyot, ii. 148-151;
- Al-Ḳirḳisani, ed. Harkavy, in Publ. Kaiserliche Russische Archœologische Gesellschaft, 1894, vii. 293;
- Weiss, Dor, iii. 98 et seq.