The Jewish Eye
Huna and Rav Mesharshiya
During most of the era of the Amora'im in Bavel (3960/220CE until 4235/475CE) peace, prosperity, and tranquility reigned for the Jews. Although subjects of the Persian Kings they were granted a great deal of autonomy. Jewish matter were in the hands of the Reish Galusa. The leading Amora'im were often very friendly with the reigning Persian King. This allowed Torah to flourish climaxing with the editing of Talmud Bavli by Rav Ashi.
Many centuries of respite from religious persecution came to an end during the reign of the Persian King Bahram V Gor (421-438CE). After initiating war with the Byzantine Empire (the eastern metamorphosis of the Roman Empire), when no clear victory was scored on either side, Christianity began to make its way into Persia. In the backlash against Christianity, as always seems to be the case, the Jews became a target of the Persians. Two Kings, Yazdergerd II (438-457CE) and Peroz (459/484CE) both waged religious war against the Jews. A decree forbid the keeping of Shabbos.
Rav Sherira Gaon writes that it was under Peroz the Wicked that Huna the son Mar Zutra the Reish Galusa and Rav Mesharshiya were martyred on 15 Teves 4230/470CE. Later that year Ameimar the talmid of Rav Ashi was also put to death. This reign of terror also included the kidnapping of Jewish children and handing them over to the Persian religious leaders. The situation subsequently worsened and climaxed in the closing of all Batei Knesses as well as the closure of the legendary Yeshiva of Sura for 40 years. This was the dark end of the otherwise glorious period of the Amoraim in Bavel. The year 500CE is considered the beginning of the period of the Rabanan Savarai.
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