Rabbi Pinhas Ben Yair

Rabbi Pinhas Ben Yair

Name and place:

The fifth generation Tanna Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair,( Hebrew: פנחס בן יאיר) the father-in-law of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, lived after the destruction of the Temple. He is celebrated for his piety and scrupulous honesty. He lies buried in the cemetary in Zefat on the bottom of the hill.


He is recognized for his unparalleled ethical standards. The Gomorrah tells that he was extremely careful never to partake from someone else's meal, and refused to accept support from others. He also laid special weight upon the prescriptions relating to the tithe.

Tale of a Tzaddik:

A story is told that he was once on his way to redeem a captured prisoner (pidyon shevuyim) -one of the most important mitzvos-when he reached the Ginnai River. He asked the river to please split so that he could cross to the other side. After it had split for him, he then asked it to split twice more so that two others that he met would also be able to get across, and the river obeyed his command. Hearing this, Rebbi Yossi remarked, "He is even greater then Moshe, for whom the sea split only once". When his students once asked him if they would also be able to decree that the water should split on their behalf, he told them that it would work only if they are sure that they never hurt another person’s feelings or harmed a person in any other way during their entire life. (Yerushalmi)

When Rabbeinu Hakodosh heard that Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was passing by, he pleaded with him to be his guest and join him for a meal. Reluctantly Rebbi Pinchas agreed and Rebbi was very happy. However Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair told Rebbi that he was on his way to do an important mitzvah and he would therefore stop by on his way back. Upon returning, he noticed a wild white mule in front of Rebbi's house and therefore refused to enter despite Rebbi's pleas and promises to get rid of it. He felt that such an animal may not be kept, since it can cause great damage to others.

He was convinced that every problem that occurred is on account of not fulfilling the mitzvos properly. He once came to a place where the people complained to him that the mice were causing great damage and eating their grain. He told them that this was because they didn't give proper ma'aser from their grain. As soon as they corrected the problem and took the proper ma'aseros, the mice stopped eating their grain. On another occasion, when the people complained to him that their wells weren't supplying them with enough water, he told them that this was a punishment for not fulfilling the mitzvos of trumos and ma'aseros. As soon as they began doing these mitzvos properly, their water supply reached its proper level.


On his deathbed Rabbi Pinhas Ben Yair asked that a tomb stone should not be erected upon his grave. He wanted that his teachings and actions to be his memorial. After his death his disciples erected a tombstone upon his grave. However after the seven days of mourning the stone crumbled and ever since the tombstone has remained in ruins.


In the old cemetary on the slope of the hill.

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