• 1. Tanna of the first century; contemporary of Eleazar b. Ḥisma and Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, and senior of 'Illai (Pes. 32a, 39b; Yalḳ., Lev. 638). Of his personal history nothing is known, except that he had seen the Temple at Jerusalem and was familiar with the specific purposes of its many apartments, a subject on which he was considered an authority (Yoma 16b; see Middot). Some of the details, however, he eventually forgot, and was reminded of them by Abba Saul b. Baṭnit (Mid. ii. 5, v. 4).Simon b. 'Azzai, Akiba's contemporary, relates that he had discovered a genealogical roll wherein was stated, "The Mishnah of R. Eliezer b. Jacob is only a 'ḳab' [small in proportion], but clear" ( , Yeb. 49b), wherefore subsequent generations generally adopted Eliezer's views as law (Yeb. 60a; Bek. 23b).In the Haggadah, too, he is mentioned. According to him, what the Bible says (Deut. xi. 13), "To serve him with all your heart and with all your soul," is an admonition to the priests that, when officiating, they shall entertain no thought foreign to their duty (Sifre, Deut. 41).
  • 2. Tanna of the second century, quoted among Akiba's younger disciples who survived the fall of Bethar and the subsequent Hadrianic persecutions: Judah b. 'Illai, Meïr, Simon b. Yoḥai, Eliezer b. Jose ha-Gelili (Gen. R. lxi. 3; Cant. R. ii. 5; compare Ber. 63b; Yeb. 62b). With most of them he maintained halakic disputations (Neg. x. 4; Tosef., Yeb. x. 5; ib. B. Ḳ. v. 7; ib. Ker. i. 11; ib. Parah, iii. 10). He was the founder of a school known in the Talmud after his name, Debe R. Eliezer b. Jacob, which sometimes opposed the Debe R. Ishmael (Sanh. 90b; Ḥul. 132a; Yoma 45b; see Ḥanina b. Minyomi).Like his older namesake, Eliezer is quoted in both the Halakah and the Haggadah. From the Pentateuchal injunction (Deut. xxii. 5), "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment," he maintains that a woman must never handle arms or go to war, and that man must not use ornaments which women usually wear (Sifre, Deut. 226; Nazir 59a). Eliezer taught: "Whoso performs a pious deed gains for himself an advocate [before heaven], and whoso commits a sin creates an accuser against himself. Penitence and pious deeds constitute a shield against heavenly visitations" (Ab. iv. 11).It is related of him that he once gave up the seat of honor to a poor blind man. The distinction thus conferred on the visitor by so eminent a man induced the people thereafter bounteously to provide for the needy one, who, when he realized the cause of his good fortune, thanked its author. He said, "Thou hast shown kindness unto one who is seen, but can not see: may He who sees, but can not be seen, harken to thy prayers and show thee kindness" (Yer. Peah viii. 21b).
  • Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 67-72, ii. 283-291;
  • Brüll, Mebo ha-Mishnah, i. 71 et seq.;
  • Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah, pp. 73 et seq.;
  • Heilprin, Seder ha-Dorot, ed. Warsaw, 1897, ii. 57b et seq.;
  • Weiss, Dor, ii. 41 et seq., 166 et seq.;
  • Zacuto, Yuḥasin, ed. Filipowski, pp. 31b et seq., 51a.
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