Bruriah, the daughter of Rabbi Hanina ben Teradion and wife of Rabbi Meir, is one of the more intriguing personalities of the Talmud.
The best known story involving Bruriah tells of the way in which she sensitively prepared her husband for the heartbreaking news that their two young sons had passed away suddenly. Deciding not to tell her husband of the childrens’ death on Shabbat, Bruriah asked her husband after Shabbat whether or not she needed to return an object that had been lent to her some years ago. When Rabbi Meir replied that she certainly must, Bruriah brought him to the room where the lifeless bodies of their two sons lay. Gently, Bruriah reminded Rabbi Meir that he had just told her that borrowed items had to be returned to their rightful owner. The rabbi replied, “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed the name of the Lord.”
Bruriah was well known for her wisdom. She is praised for intervening in a debate of the sages, with Rabbi Joshua announcing: “Bruriah has spoken correctly” (Tosefta Keilim Bava Metzia 1:3). Her wisdom and breadth of knowledge is so praised that she is said to have learned 300 laws from the rabbis on a single cloudy day (Pesachim 62b).
Unfortunately, Bruriah and Rabbi Meir lived in a time when dedication to Torah was dangerous. In fact, her father, Rabbi Hanina, was one of the ten martyrs brutally murdered by the Romans. Rabbi Hanina was burned at the stake, wrapped in the Torah scroll from which he had been teaching. Rabbi Hanina’s wife was also murdered and his other daughter was condemned to life in a Roman brothel (ultimately saved by Rabbi Meir). According to some opinions, immediately after her father’s execution, Bruriah and her husband fled to Babylon.
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