Elisha ben Abuyah, or Acher (“the Other”), as he came to be known by his colleagues, was a Mishnaic sage turned heretic. Born into a prestigious Jerusalem family,1 Elisha was described by the Talmud as an extraordinary scholar who delved deep into the secrets of the Torah. Ultimately, though, Elisha threw off his Torah observance and committed terrible sins.Elisha ben Avuyah (Abuyah), a.k.a. "Acher" or "Aher," "the Other One," was presumably a real rabbinic sage of the Tannaitic period. But in rabbinic legend he grew to be the paradigmatic heretic. He is also famous for his muddled encounter with God and the archangel Metatron in the divine throne room. This essay gives a good overview of the legend of Acher.
Let us explore the story of this elusive, almost infamous sage.
Past PaleoJudaica posts on him are here, here, here, here, and here.
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