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Simeon ben Azzai

Index: Tres versiones de Judas, Artificios, Ficciones, OC,Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1974. 517.
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2nd century rabbi, collaborator of Akiba in the Merkabah studies

Fishburn and Hughes: An early second-century Jewish scholar from Tiberias, a teacher of the oral law (or Mishnah), renowned for his saintliness. Tradition held that only a sage was allowed to 'enter the Garden' (the euphemism used for theosophical speculations), but Ben Azai's piety was such that he could devote himself to theosophical speculation without injury to the soul. It was said that 'he who has seen Ben Azai in his dreams is himself on the way to piety'. According to a story in the Talmud, Ben Azai 'beheld the mysteries of the Garden and died; God granted him the death of the saints' (Talmud, Hagigah 14b). It is difficult to decide whether Borges's use of the term 'rabbi' in connection with Ben Azai is a mark of respect or irony for, though Ben Azai's learning was great, he never achieved the status of rabbi. Funes, His Memory