PALTOI BAR ABBAYE, gaon of Pumbedita from 842 to 857; father of Ẓemaḥ Gaon . Paltoi was a powerful, energetic, and strong-minded personality. His appointment heralded a new era of prominence for the gaonate of Pumbedita. His authority was such that the exilarch had to come to his academy in   order to convene a public assembly. During his gaonate the ties with the outside communities were strengthened and increased. Paltoi and Ẓemaḥ were the first geonim to establish contact with the community of North Africa. A community in Spain sent a request to Paltoi "to write the Talmud and its explanations for them," basing their request on the grounds that "the majority of the people have recourse to digests of the halakhah (hilkhot ketu'ot) and say 'what need have we for the difficulties of the Talmud?'" Paltoi vigorously protested against this. "They are not acting correctly, and it is forbidden to do this. They thereby cause a decline in the study of the Torah, causing it to be forgotten." His extant responsa, which are to be found in most collections of geonic responsa, as well as being quoted in the works of the posekim , only represent a minority of those he wrote. New fragments were published by A.N.Z. Roth. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Abramson, Merkazim, 10, 16; Assaf, Ge'onim, 52f., 171; A.N.Z. Roth, in: Tarbiz, 25 (1956), 140–8; M. Margolioth, ibid., 149–53. (Meir Havazelet)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • GAON — (pl. Geonim), formal title of the heads of the academies of Sura and Pumbedita in Babylonia. The geonim were recognized by the Jews as the highest authority of instruction from the end of the sixth century or somewhat later to the middle of the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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