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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works


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Eliezer ben Judah of Bartotha
Hebrew Name(s): רבי אלעזר בן יהודה איש ברתותא
Other Names: Eleazar ben Judah of Bartota, Eleazar ben Judah of Birtota, Eleazar ben Judah of Birta, Eleazar ben Judah of Biria, Eliezer ben Judah, Rabbi Eliezer, Eleazer of Bartota, Eleazar ish Batrotha
Period: Tannaim — 1st–2nd Century Century
Location: Palestine
Dates: c. 110–140

Eliezer ben Judah of Bartotha was a Third Generation Tanna, a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva and a pupil of Joshua ben Hananiah (PT., iii 4,5; Tosefta, Bek. Vii 6; Pes. 13a). He is sometimes referred to simply as Eliezer ben Judah (compare Tosefta, Zab. i. 5 and Zab. i. 1) or as Eleizer (Avot, 3:7).
Eliezer ben Judah of Barthotha is associated with a few halakhot and even fewer midrashim but his name is remembered because of his great charitableness. He is remembered as one who lived up to his motto, "Give Him of His own: yourself and what you possess are His, as David says (I Chron. 29:14): 'All things come from you and of your own have we given you'" (Avot. 3:7). Such was his great charity that legend recounts the story that collectors for charity avoided him out of embarrassment. A tale in the Talmud relates that Eliezer ben Judah's daughter was too be married and he was preparing for the occasion when he met two collectors in the market place who avoided him. Upon enquiry Eliezer learned that they were collecting funds for two orphans who were to be married, upon which he gave them all he had. He returned to his home with wheat which he had purchased with his one remaining zuz and put it in the storeroom. Later, after he had gone to the academy Eliezer's wife found the storeroom to be overflowing with grain. Upon hearing about the miracle Eliezer gave the wheat to charity also (Ta'anit 24a).


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