Geonim

GeonicGaonicGaonGaonimGeonic periodGeonic eraGaonic periodGeongeonateGeonic Academies
Geonim (also transliterated Gaonim- singular Gaon) were the presidents of the two great Babylonian Talmudic Academies of Sura and Pumbedita, in the Abbasid Caliphate, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community worldwide in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands.wikipedia
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Talmudic Academies in Babylonia

BabyloniaAcademyTalmudic academy
Geonim (also transliterated Gaonim- singular Gaon) were the presidents of the two great Babylonian Talmudic Academies of Sura and Pumbedita, in the Abbasid Caliphate, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community worldwide in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands. The Geonim officiated, in the last place, as directors of the academies, continuing as such the educational activity of the Amoraim and Saboraim.
The Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, also known as the Geonic Academies, were the center for Jewish scholarship and the development of Halakha from roughly 589 to 1038 CE (Hebrew dates: 4349 AM to 4798 AM) in what is called "Babylonia" in Jewish sources, at the time otherwise known as Asōristān (under the Sasanian Empire) or Iraq (under the Muslim caliphate until the 11th century).

Exilarch

Resh GalutaHananiahReish Galuta
Geonim (also transliterated Gaonim- singular Gaon) were the presidents of the two great Babylonian Talmudic Academies of Sura and Pumbedita, in the Abbasid Caliphate, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community worldwide in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands.
The Exilarch's authority came under considerable challenge in 825 CE during the reign of al-Ma'mun who issued a decree permitting a group of ten men from any religious community to organize separately, which allowed the Gaon of the Talmudic academies of Sura and Pumbedita to compete with the Exilarch for power and influence, later contributing to the wider schism between Karaites and Rabbinic Jewry.

Hebrew calendar

Jewish calendarHebrew monthHebrew
The period of the Geonim began in 589 CE (Hebrew date: 4349), after the period of the Sevora'im, and ended in 1038 (Hebrew date: 4798).
Through the Amoraic period (200–500 CE) and into the Geonic period, this system was gradually displaced by the mathematical rules used today.

Sherira Gaon

SheriraRabbi Sherira GaonSherira ben Hanina
The first gaon of Sura, according to Sherira Gaon, was Mar Rab Mar, who assumed office in 609. Two important examples of such books are the Siddur of Amram Gaon, addressed to the Jews of Spain in response to a question about the laws of prayer, and the Epistle of Sherira Gaon, which sets out the history of the Mishnah and the Talmud in response to a question from Tunisia.
He was one of the most prominent Geonim of his period, and the father of Hai Gaon, who succeeded him as gaon.

Talmud

Babylonian TalmudTalmudicTalmudist
They taught Talmud and decided on issues on which no ruling had been rendered during the period of the Talmud. Two important examples of such books are the Siddur of Amram Gaon, addressed to the Jews of Spain in response to a question about the laws of prayer, and the Epistle of Sherira Gaon, which sets out the history of the Mishnah and the Talmud in response to a question from Tunisia.
In the main, this is because the influence and prestige of the Jewish community of Israel steadily declined in contrast with the Babylonian community in the years after the redaction of the Talmud and continuing until the Gaonic era.

Halakha

Jewish lawhalakhicHalacha
The Geonim played a prominent and decisive role in the transmission and teaching of Torah and Jewish law.

Savoraim

SavoraSaboraicSaboraim
The Geonim officiated, in the last place, as directors of the academies, continuing as such the educational activity of the Amoraim and Saboraim.
A Savora (Aramaic: סבורא, "a reasoner", plural Savora'im, Sabora'im, סבוראים) is a term used in Jewish law and history to signify one among the leading rabbis living from the end of period of the Amoraim (around 500 CE) to the beginning of the Geonim (around 600 CE).

Rosh yeshiva

roshei yeshivarosh yeshivahRosh HaYeshiva
The title of gaon came to be applied to the heads of the two Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbedita, though it did not displace the original title of Rosh Yeshivah Ge'on Ya'akov (Hebrew, head of the academy, pride of Jacob).
In the Talmudic academies in Babylonia, the rosh yeshiva was referred to as the reish metivta ("head of the academy" in Aramaic) and had the title of gaon.

Amram Gaon

Seder Rav AmramAmram bar SheshnaAmram ben Sheshna
Two important examples of such books are the Siddur of Amram Gaon, addressed to the Jews of Spain in response to a question about the laws of prayer, and the Epistle of Sherira Gaon, which sets out the history of the Mishnah and the Talmud in response to a question from Tunisia.
Amram Gaon (עמרם גאון, or Amram bar Sheshna, Hebrew: עמרם בר רב ששנא, or sometimes: Amram ben Sheshna or Amram b. Sheshna; died 875) was a famous Gaon or head of the Jewish Talmud Academy of Sura during the 9th century.

Saadia Gaon

SaadiaSaadiah GaonSaadiah
The most notable author among the Geonim was Saadia Gaon, who wrote Biblical commentaries and many other works: he is best known for the philosophical work Emunoth ve-Deoth.
Sa'adiah ben Yosef Gaon (سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي / Saʻīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi, Sa'id ibn Yusuf al-Dilasi, Saadia ben Yosef aluf, Sa'id ben Yusuf ra's al-Kull; ; alternative English Names: Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon ("our Rabbi [the] Saadia Gaon"), often abbreviated RSG (R a S a G), Saadia b. Joseph, Saadia ben Joseph or Saadia ben Joseph of Faym or Saadia ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi; (882/892 – 942) was a prominent rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and exegete of the Geonic period who was active in the Abbasid Caliphate.

Jewish philosophy

Jewish theologyJewish philosopherJewish
The most notable author among the Geonim was Saadia Gaon, who wrote Biblical commentaries and many other works: he is best known for the philosophical work Emunoth ve-Deoth.
Medieval re-discovery of ancient Greek philosophy among the Geonim of 10th century Babylonian academies brought rationalist philosophy into Biblical-Talmudic Judaism.

Achai Gaon

Ahai GaonSheëltotAchai of Shabcha
Achai Gaon (also known as Ahai of Shabḥa or Aha of Shabḥa, Hebrew: רב אחא [אחאי] משַׁבָּחָא) was a leading scholar during the period of the Geonim, an 8th-century Talmudist of high renown.

Samuel ben Hofni

Samuel ben HophniSamuel ben ḤofniSamuel ben Hofni Gaon
The last gaon of Sura was Samuel ben Ḥofni, who died in 1034 CE; the last gaon of Pumbedita was Hezekiah Gaon, who was tortured to death by fanatics of the Buyid dynasty in 1040; hence the activity of the Geonim covers a period of nearly 450 years.
As early a writer as Abū al-Walīd (Kitāb al-Luma‘, p. 15) called him a leading advocate of simple, temperate explanation ("peshaṭ"), and Abraham ibn Ezra, although finding fault with his verbosity, placed him in the front rank of Bible commentators of the geonic period (see Bacher, Abraham ibn Ezra's Einleitung zu Seinem Pentateuch-Commentar, etc., p. 18).

Semikhah

semicharabbinic ordinationordained
(A regular ordination ("semichah") is of course not implied here: that did not exist in Babylonia, only a solemn nomination taking place.)
The Geonim, early medieval Jewish sages of Babylon, did not possess semikhah, and did not use the title "rabbi".

Yehudai Gaon

Yehudai ben NahmanHalachot PesukotJehudai Gaon
Yehudai ben Nahman (or Yehudai Gaon; Hebrew: יהודאי גאון, sometimes: Yehudai b. Nahman) was the head of the yeshiva in Sura from 757 to 761, during the Gaonic period of Judaism.

Hezekiah Gaon

HezekiahHezekiah ben David
The last gaon of Sura was Samuel ben Ḥofni, who died in 1034 CE; the last gaon of Pumbedita was Hezekiah Gaon, who was tortured to death by fanatics of the Buyid dynasty in 1040; hence the activity of the Geonim covers a period of nearly 450 years.
The death of Hezekiah ended the line of the Geonim, which had begun four centuries earlier (see Hanan of Iskiya), and with it, Pumbedita Academy.

Simeon Kayyara

Halakot GedolotBahagHalakhot Gedolot
Although he lived during the Geonic period, he was never officially appointed as a Gaon, and therefore does not bear the title "Gaon."

Chananel ben Chushiel

HananeelRabbeinu ChananelR. Hananeel
Chananel Ben Chushiel (Rabbeinu Chananel) (990–1053) and Nissim Gaon (990–1062) of Kairouan, though not holders of the office of Gaon, are often ranked among the Geonim.
Chananel ben Chushiel or Ḥananel ben Ḥushiel, an 11th-century Kairouanan rabbi and Talmudist, was a student of one of the last Geonim.

Rishonim

Rishoncommentatorsearlier authorities
Others, perhaps more logically, consider them as constituting the first generation of Rishonim.
undefined, Rishon, "the first ones") were the leading rabbis and poskim who lived approximately during the 11th to 15th centuries, in the era before the writing of the Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew: undefined, "Set Table", a common printed code of Jewish law, 1563 CE) and following the Geonim (589-1038 CE).

Aramaic

Aramaic languageMiddle AramaicChaldee
The Aramaic term used was Resh metivta.
It is most commonly identified with the language of the Babylonian Talmud (which was completed in the seventh century) and of post-Talmudic Geonic literature, which are the most important cultural products of Babylonian Judaism.

Louis Ginzberg

Ginzberg, LouisL. Ginzberg
The Sura academy was originally dominant, but its authority waned towards the end of the Geonic period and the Pumbedita Gaonate gained ascendancy (Louis Ginzberg in Geonica).
Apart from Legends of the Jews, perhaps his best known scholarly work was his Geonica (1909), an account of the Babylonian Geonim containing lengthy extracts from their responsa, as discovered in the form of fragments in the Cairo Genizah.

Pumbedita Academy

PumbeditaAcademyAcademy at Pumbeditha
Pumbedita Academy (sometimes Pumbeditha, Pumpedita, or Pumbedisa; ישיבת פומבדיתא) was a yeshiva in Babylon during the era of the Amoraim and Geonim sages.

History of responsa in Judaism

responsaresponsumHistory of responsa
Often questions were settled by a single letter, as was later the case with the Geonim, who exchanged a series of responsa.

Rabbinic literature

rabbinical literatureclassical rabbinical literaturerabbinic
There are a large number of "classical" Midrashic works spanning a period from Mishnaic to Geonic times, often showing evidence of having been worked and reworked from earlier materials, and frequently coming to us in multiple variants.