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The Gemara (Bab. Shab. 23b) relates a story about one R' Avin Nagara ("The Carpenter").

Was he a Rabbi? Or was this merely an honorary title given to him because of his great children (as related in the story)?

Was he a carpenter? Or was that his surname? If he was a carpenter, why was he so well known (so Rav Huna can just mention his name without directly associating him with his famous children)?

What else is known about him?

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Rashi there seems to say that he was actually a carpenter (I don't believe Rashi would just be explaining the meaning of his surname). –  Michoel Nov 12 '12 at 0:07
    
Was he also a rabbi? Was this a nickname (did this somehow derive from his skill in exegetical interpretation)? Was he the official carpenter of the king's court? Who was he? Is anything written elsewhere? –  Seth J Nov 12 '12 at 0:55
    
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I could not find anything else about him (besides for the Seder Hadoros that @ba linked to), but some seforim include him among Amoraim who had professions so I guess they understand he was also a Rabbi. –  Michoel Nov 12 '12 at 8:33
    
@michoel, that is helpful. Add a source for that, and that sounds like an answer. –  Seth J Nov 12 '12 at 17:17

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted
+100

Here is what I could dig up about him:

  • He lived sometime in the (late) second century. This is evident from Shabbos 23b which places him at the same time as Rav Huna who passed away in 296 (wikipedia).

  • He had two children named Rav Iddi and Rav Chiya (Gemora there).

  • He lived in Bavel as is evident from the story with Rav Huna. Rav Huna began lecturing in Sura at the age of 30, until he passed away when he was older than 80 (source), so it is likely that that was where Rebbi Avin Nagra lived as well.

  • Rashi writes that נגרא means carpenter. This seems to indicate that it was his actual profession, since it doesn't seem likely Rashi would just be explaining the translation of his surname.

  • It seem that the fact he is called Rebbi in the Gemora indicates that he had Semicha (see Sanhedrin 13b). [However see Dikdukey Sofrim, that some take out the title Rebbi].

  • It is seems like he originated from Eretz Yisroel, based on the rule that "כל רב מבבל, כל רבי מארץ ישראל" (end of Seder Tanoim Veamorayim, and more - see here)

  • R' Chaim Vital in Shaar Hagilgulim (Hakdoma 36) includes his name in a list, which he begins by by saying "These are the Amoraim".

  • His name also apears in "Shemos Hatzadikim", written by? R' Nachman of Breslov which is a listing of every known Tzadik known from the time of Adam Harishon.

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@SethJ I don't know if you'll get better answers then this one. –  Yehoshua Nov 22 '12 at 10:43

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