Jonathan ben Uzziel
Jonathan ben Uzziel (Hebrew: יונתן בן עוזיאל) is known as the author of Targum Jonathan. He is also said to have written a book of kabbalah known as Megadnim. He was one of the 80 tannaim who studied under Hillel the Elder. The Talmud in Sukkah 28a tells that while he was absorbed in studying Torah, if a bird flew over his head it would be burnt (possibly a metaphor meant to say that any scholar who wished to differ in opinion with him was incapable of such; Rashi suggests that the Ministering Angels [Malachei HaShareis] were responsible because they longed to hear his words of Torah. Tosafot has a dissenting opinion). His tomb is in Amuka, Galilee near Tzfat, Israel.
According to local tradition, which appears in writing for the first time in Evyatar's Scroll from the end of the 11th century, ben Uzziel's burial place is located in Amuka.
Zev Vilnai writes that "Rabbi Shmuel ben Shimshon in 1210 tells about this burial place: there is a large tree next to it, and the Ishmaelites bring oil and light a candle in his honor and make vows in his honor. The location of Yonatan ben Uzziel's burial place is illustrated in a drawing in 1537 from the book "Ancestry of fathers and prophets" (Hebrew: יחוס אבות ונביאים).
Today it is common to visit the burial place on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the lunar month, and on 26 Sivan (the day on which he died, but visitors arrive on every day of the year. A practice that began in the 17th century was to pray at the gravesite for a good marriage partner, for children, satisfaction from one's children, a good livelihood, health and happiness. The source of this practice is not clear. Zev Vilnai, in his book "Holy Places in the Land of Israel" (Hebrew: מצבות קודש בארץ־ישראל), gives two possibilities:
- The practice developed from the Pseudo-Jonathan translation of the Bible on Deuteronomy 24:6, where he writes that anyone who prevents the connection between a husband and wife forfeits his portion in the world-to-come.
- The practice is based on a mistaken reading of Rashi in Yevamot 17a s.v. "Shehakol ponim sham," where he writes in reference to a place called Harpania (Aramaic: ___) "Everyone goes there: all ineligible men (pesulim) who cannot find a woman turn and go there. And it is deeper (Amuka): and worse than Gehinnom." The words "and it is deeper (Amuka)" are the headwords to Rashi's next comment, and do not relate to his preceding comment about men going to Harpania to look for women. However, the mistaken reading connects Rashi's words to the community named Amuka.
In addition to these two reasons, there is a widespread claim that Jonathan be Uzziel was single or childless, so men in similar situations seek to benefit from his special powers, but nowhere in the writings of Chazal is it stated that Jonathan ben Uzziel was single or childless.