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Amoraim (Aramaic, "spokemen") were Jewish scholars who interpreted the Midrash in Palestine and Babylonia between 200 and 500 AD. The Talmud records were their discussions, which are distinguished from the tannaim whose debates are chronicled in the Mishnah. Their halakhic decisions are considered to have equal validity as those in the tannaim, and they also continued and developed the aggadic tradition. Communications were maintained between Palestinian and Babylonian schools by messengers and visiting scholars, and this accounts for the sayings of the Babylonian amoriam appearing in the Babylonian Talmud, and vice versa. These scholars ordained by the Nasi and the Sanbedrin in Palestine were given the title of Rabbi, whereas the Babylonian scholars were referred to as "Rav." Besides teaching, the amoriam fulfilled community duties such as acting as judges and dispersing charitable funds. Over two thousand amoraim can be identified for over three hundred years, but there is inevitable confusion over some of the names. A.G.H.


Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 59-60

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