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date: 25 June 2024


The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion
Adele BerlinAdele Berlin, Maxine GrossmanMaxine Grossman

(882–942), scholar and ga’on in Babylonia. Saʿadyah was born in the Fayyum district of Egypt and wandered through Palestine and other lands before settling in Babylonia. After playing a leading role in the controversy between Palestine and Babylonia concerning the fixing of the calendar (921–922), he was appointed ga’on of Sura in 928, in spite of his unconventional background (ge’onim usually belonged to one of a small number of Babylonian families intimately associated with a given academy and spent their entire careers within that setting) and reservations concerning his uncompromising personality. These misgivings were not entirely unfounded. Shortly after his appointment, Saʿadyah became embroiled in a bitter conflict with the exilarch David ben Zakk’ai, who had secured his appointment; each declared the other to be deposed and appointed a successor. Years passed before the two men were reconciled, by dint of the efforts of leading members of the Jewish community of Baghdad.... ...

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