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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works


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Eleazar ben Perata I
Hebrew Name(s): אלעזר בן פרטא
Other Names: Eleazar ben Perata ha-Gadol
Period: Tannaim — 2nd Century
Location: Palestine
Dates: 2nd Century

Eleazar ben Perata I was a Tanna of the Third Generation. He was a younger contemporary of Eleazar of Modi'im (Tosef., Sanh. Iv. 8; PT. Meg. i. 71c) and of Jose the Galilean (Mekilta, Yitro, BaḤodesh 2).
Eleazar ben Perata I lived at the time of the Hadrianic persecutions, when Jews were forbidden to practice circumcision, to study Jewish Law, and to celebrate Passover, Sabbath, and the festival of Booths (Mek. l.c. 6; Lev. R. xxxii. 1). Despite the threat of punishment by death Eleazar continue to teach. The Talmud records that he was cast into prison where he met Hananiah ben Teradion and tried to encourage him.
Our Rabbis taught: When R. Eleazar b. Perata and R. Hanina b. Teradion were arrested, R. Eleazar b. Perata said to R. Hanina b. Teradion: Happy art thou that thou hast been arrested on one charge; woe is me, for I am arrested on five charges. R. Hanina replied: Happy art thou, who hast been arrested on five charges, but will be rescued; woe is me who, though having been arrested on one charge, will not be rescued; for thou hast occupied thyself with [the study of] the Torah as well as with acts of benevolence, whereas I occupied myself with Torah alone. (Avodah Zarah 17b)
Eleazar ben Perata I was aquitted of his charges, while Hananiah ben Teradion was condemned to death.
Eleazar ben Perata I taught both Halakhah and Haggadah drawing on Scripture for practical lessons. For example, warning his students of the danger of the evil tongue (lashon harah) he referred them to lesson to be learned from the fate of the spies who brought an evil report back to Moses and the people (Num. 13). The Torah relates that those that brought an evil report upon the land died of a plague (Num. 14:37). How much greater is the punishment, asked Ben Perata, due to those who, more than slandering trees and stones, slander their neighbor, their equal (Tosefta, Ar. Ii 11; Ar. 15a).


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