Does anyone have any understanding how to settle this ?

"We have R' Pinchas ben Yair, son-in-law of Rashbi, as mentioned in Gemoro shabbos (:ג"ל) appearing in the Zohar countless times as - his father in law! and dying before him too, as mentioned in the Idra Zuta. There have been some pathetic responses to this argument: One was to be Magiha in the Gemoro text to חותניה instead of חתניה. There are two problems with this. Firstly, there is no such word as חותניה in Aramaic, since its a confusion between aramaic yud hay ending, and the hebrew world חותן. The correct word would have been חמוהי. Secondly both r' Shrira Gaon's letter, and the Seder haKabbalahh of the Raavad, state that r' Pinchos ben Yoir was a member of the Generation after Rashbi. Another response is that it is the Zohar text that should be emended - from חמוך to חתנך. This is impossible since the Zohar clearly states that r' Pinchas ben Yair was father of Rashbi's wife, and grand-father of his son, and I quote from the Zohar .ו"ל שמיני ר"א הוה אזיל באורחא אשכחיה לרבי פנחס בן יאיר, פתח ר' אלעזר ואמר עטרת זקנים בני בנים. ע"כ.

פרשת פנחס בדף ר"מ: Another proof is from Zohar א"ר שמעון- בריך ברי לקב"ה! עלך אתמר (משלי כג) ישמח אביך ואמך ותגל יולדתך. ישמח אביך דלעילא ואמך דא כנסת ישראל. ותגל יולדתך דא ברתיה דרבי פנחס בן יאיר חסידא. אלעזר ברי וכו .' But most importantly, neither of these two feeble attempts deal with the fact that the gemara implies that rashbi died before r'Pinchos Ben Yair as demonstrated by R' Aharon Heiman in his Toldos Tanoim vAmoraim. Since it says in :ד"פ מ"ב: יסורי בתורה מאי היא? דכי הוו יתבי רבן שמעון בן גמליאל ורבי יהושע בן קרחה אספסלי יתבי קמייהו רבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון ורבי אארעא מקשו ומפרקו אמרי מימיהן אנו שותים והם יושבים על גבי קרקע עבדו להו ספסלי אסקינהו אמר להן מי שיש לו אב יחיה ומי שאין לו אב ימות אחתוהו נמי לרבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון. רבן שמעון בן גמליאל פרידה אחת יש לי ביניכם ואתם מבקשים לאבדה הימני אחתוהו לרבי אמר להן רבי יהושע בן קרחה So we see that Rashbi, but not Rebbi's own father - Raban Gamliel - had already died whilst Rebbi was still a young student. Yet in א"ה ג"פ תענית ירושלמי ובגמרא ,:ז חולין it says that Rabbi Pinchos ben Yair came to Rebbi to contest an enactment concerning Shviis that he had decreed on the Jewish community in his capacity as Nasi - This implying that his father had died by then and that he was already an authority in his own right. So, R' Pinchas ben Yair clearly died after Rashbi"

  • 2
    "countless times in the Zohar"...um, could this be a possible indicator that the people that wrote the Talmud, as well as the Gaon and the Raavad, had the facts straight, and Moses de Leon did not? This is supposedly one of the "classic indicators" that the Zohar was not written by Rashbi....
    – Gary
    Sep 18, 2014 at 23:30

3 Answers 3


Perhaps there was more than one tanna named Pinhas ben Yair, This was spoken of in Shaar HaGilGulim by Rav Chaim Vital.

To me though, its not clear if Rav Pinchas ben Yair was niftar or not in the Idra. Nevertheless, Rav Chaim seems to assume he was.

  • I can't believe this is the accepted response. I mean no disrespect to the person who offered it, but "perhaps there are two tannaim with the same name" is the lamest response to a problem of this nature, and the fact that somebody else has already suggested it doesn't make it any less ridiculous. It's pretty obvious, I would think, that both Pinchas ben Yairs are the same person. This is a valid answer, but it should not have been selected as the final one.
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 9, 2017 at 8:03
  • @ShimonbM Let's say we know for certain Rashb"i wrote the Zohar. How would you settle it not including this answer?
    – Y K
    Mar 9, 2017 at 11:02
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    @YK, I don't know. But the fact that I don't know doesn't suddenly make this the answer. The OP refers to textual emendations as "pathetic" solutions, so I marvel at how readily they accepted the suggestion that both the father- and son-in-law had the same name - a name associated with so well-known a sage that no further identifying characteristics were needed!
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 9, 2017 at 19:47
  • Also, as it stands, this answer is entirely unsourced.
    – Shimon bM
    Mar 9, 2017 at 19:54

Here the suggestion is to ammend the gemara to say בחתניה - Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair heard about his son-in-law. No Aramaic problems. Note that the context there fits that better in two ways. One, it shows that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai became more advanced than RPBY only after his 13 years in the cave, something that would apply more naturally to someone younger, and the language there is very much that of a younger person to an older one, looking for the older person to take pride in the younger one's accomplishment in learning. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is one of the most quoted Tanayim, with appearances in the vast majority of Masechtos and Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair not so much. All of that accomplishment seems out of place in the context of his being the older one.

Of course, other Rishonim/Geonim could have had (and held by) a different Girsa and not had the traditions of the Zohar, so that is a rather side point.

Regarding Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair's appearance to Rebbi in that context, I still need to investigate more, but there is no indication (that I know of) that this person is the same one or related to Rabbi Shimon. Note that in the Zohar there is a similar point (brought in the link above) of Rabbi Eliezar referring to Rabbi Shimon as father and Rabbi Pinchas by his first name. So this would be a further indication that there was a second one. And note that the respect there is a bit incompatible with his being a brother-in-law.

It would be difficult to just say that he had a father-in-law and son-in-law with the same full name, but there is no particular reason that I know of to think there has to be only one Tanna across two generations with the same name.


It should be pointed out that there is no a priori reason to really think that the Zohar and Talmud have to agree on this point, any more than the Bavli and Yerushalmi would have to agree on the relationships of a certain person, but harmonization would be preferable.


According to the ibn Ezra חֹתֵן (Bamidbar 10:28) means father or brother-in-law.

כי דרך המקרא לקרוא אבי הנערה ואחיה חותן

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    How does this settle anything, as the question said that there is no Aramaic word "Chosen". Mar 9, 2017 at 7:21
  • This does not answer the question Mar 10, 2017 at 10:27

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