Sherira ben-Hanina

(c. 906–1006)
   Gaon of Pumbedita, 968–1006. By the 10 century the great Babylonian academies were in a period of decline. Sura had been closed a number of years and Pumbedita had sunk to a shadow of its former lustre. Centres of Jewish learning were developing in Kairouan (North Africa), Spain and Franco-Germany, and the communities there had ceased to support the Babylonian centres. Sherira energetically set about reviving Pumbedita. He sent out severe reprimands to the Western communities, asking them to renew their assistance. Queries sent to him were answered with such knowledge that pupils began to flow to his academy. A new period, a last flickering of the candle, was marked by the gaonate of Sherira and his son and successor, HAI. Their answers to queries (responsa) are more numerous than all the extant responsa of the previous geonim. Sherira’s most famous responsum was the Iggeret (‘letter’) in answer to a sage in Kairouan, in which he relates the complete history of halachic development in the talmudic and geonic periods, up to his own time. He lived to the age of a hundred, and dealt with responsa to the end.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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