Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Yalta’s Claim to Fame

Dr. Pearl Herzog

Very few women are alluded to by name in the Gemara. And even if they are, they are hardly mentioned. Yalta, the daughter of Rabah bar Avuha, is the rare exception. Known as the wisest woman of her time, she is the most-discussed woman in the Gemara.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

feather ink

Yalta(Aramaic for doe or mountain goat) grew up a daughter of privilege, in a wealthy and learned home. Her father was a scion of the Davidic line and a Reish Galusa; he represented the Jewish community to the Parthian Empire.Yalta’s father would collect the community’s taxes and petition the rulers for its needs.

Yalta’s family lived in Bavel, in the flourishing city of Nehardea(a composite of two words, nehar for river, deah for knowledge) situated on theEuphratesRiver. Nehardea was overrun in 259 CE during an uprising lead by Pappa bar Netzer against King Shabur (Sapor I 241–272). Most of the Jewish population fled the unstable region. Some of the rabbis and scholars relocated to Mechoza, in the general area ofBaghdad. There, a leading disciple of Rav and Shmuel, Rabah bar Avuha,Yalta’s father, established a large yeshivah.

One of Rabah bar Avuha’s favorite students, a talmid chacham and a third-generation Amora, was young Rav Nachman. Rav Nachman had been orphaned at a young age and Rabah took him under his wing. It was this prize student and surrogate son that Rabah bar Avuha chose as a husband for his outstanding daughter,Yalta.

Rav Nachman bar Yaakov was appointed by his father-in-law Rabah bar Avuha as a dayan in his rabbinic court. After the latter passed away, Rav Nachman took over as rosh yeshivah and political leader of Mechoza.

When Nehardea rose from the rubble and many Jews returned, Rav Nachman transferred the yeshivah in Mechoza to that city.


 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you