Elisha Ben-abuja

Elisha Ben-Abuja (surnamed Acher, i.e., "the other one," after his apostasy) was a pupil of the famous rabbi Akiba (q.v.). He was the son of a wealthy citizen of Jerusalem, and was early initiated in the study of the law, but afterwards apostatized from Judaism it is related of him that while attending the Jewish college he had often been noticed to carry with him writings of the "Minim" (probably of Gnostics), and that he had even been in the habit of quoting Greek poetry. One of the most intimate friends and pupils of Elisha was the famous rabbi, Meir (q.v.), who seized every opportunity to invite his friend to return into the bosom of the synagogue-a proposition to which Elisha refused to accede, as forgiveness could not be granted to one who had so wantonly abused the gifts bestowed upon him. When Acher lay on his deathbed, Meir hastened to his side, and renewed, this time effectually, his solicitations on this subject. Legend has it that Meir spread his cloak over the grave of Acher; a cloud of smoke rose from it, and Meir turned away with the somewhat blasphemous application of Ru 3:13, "Tarry this night (of time), and it shall be in the morning (of immortality) that he the All-merciful will deliver and ransom thee; but if he be unwilling, then I will redeem thee." See Hamburger, Real-Encyklop. 2:168 sq.; Bacher, in Frankel-Gratz's Monatsschrift, 1884, page 234 sq.; Jellinek, Elischa ben- Abujja, genannt Acher (Leipsic, 1847). (B.P.)

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