רב – Rav Abba ben Ibo, also called Abba Arika or Rav, “The Master”. Along with his friend and frequent disputant, Shmuel, Rav was the greatest of the first generation of Babylonian amora’im (3rd century CE) who cast the mold of Torah scholarship in that country for generations to come. The halakha accords with Rav in ritual matters and with Shmuel in monetary matters. Rav was born to a pedigreed family in Babylonia that produced many Sages and traced itself back to King David. Rav moved to the Land of Israel with his uncle, Rabbi Ḥiyya, and studied Torah primarily with his uncle and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rav founded a large academy in Sura and raised the level of scholarship to rival that of the Land of Israel.
Because Rav debated halakha with the last of the tanna’im, the Gemara establishes a general principle that “Rav is a tanna and argues” – that his statements may not be challenged from a baraita because he is considered to be on the level of a tanna. Therefore, according to a Geonic tradition, if “Rav” or “Rabbi Abba” is mentioned in a baraita, it is understood to refer to Rav.
Rav lived a long life of wealth and high regard. Despite this notoriety, he was universally praised for his great piety and humility. Rav had many disciple, the most famous of whom were Rav Ḥisda and Rav Hamnuna. Rav had two sons: Ibo and Ḥiyya. Ḥiyya bar Rav was also a Sage, and his son, Shimi bar Ḥiyya, who studied under his grandfather, was an important Sage as well. Rav married into the family of the Exilarch, and Ravna Neḥemya and Ravna Ukva were Sages descended from the Exilarch who were also Rav’s grandsons, through his daughter.
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