|Part of Zissil Projects:|
|Abht'alyon, Avtalion, Abtalion, Avtolyon|
|Meaning of Name:|
|Father of the young|
|Av Bais Din and leading Sage during Second Temple Era.|
One of the early Tannaim, Avtalyon lived 100 years before the destruction of the second temple, towards the end of the Chashmonaim rulership, in middle of the first century BCE. He belonged to the fourth pair of Zugos and served as the Av Bais Din, vice president of the Sanhedrin under the Nasi Shmaya. Avtalyon was a descendent of converts and according to some opinions a convert himself.
 Student of the Sages
Avtalyon was a student of Yehuda ben Tabai and Shimon ben Shetach, the third pair of Zugos and leaders of their generation. When the wicked king Yani (Alexander Jannaeus) killed all the Torah Sages, Yehuda ben Tabai escaped to Alexandria, Egypt. It can be assumed that Avtalyon went into exile along with his teacher to escape the massacre. They returned after the death of Yani under the reign of Queen Shelomtzion (Alexandra Salome).
 Son of Converts
There are others that say Avtalyon himself was a convert and the law prohibiting a convert from serving as a judge, applies only when there are alternative candidates. In the case of Avtalyon, there was no one worthier for the position in the entire nation. This was especially true considering that many of the Sages had been killed by the Tzeduki kings that ruled Israel. There are references to a spiritual guru named Avtalyon in ancient Roman literature. According to the account, this Avtalyon ran away and joined another religion. Although it easily could have been referring to a different Avtalyon, it can be reconciled with the opinion stating that Avtalyon himself was a convert.
 Descendent of Sancherev
 Kabbalistic Reincarnations
According the the Kabbalah, Adramelech and Shartzer the two sons of Sancherev who converted to Judaism were reincarnated in Shmaya and Avtalyon. Adramelech and Shartzer were from the few survivors of Sancherev's army that was struck down in midst of their sleep as they lay siege on Jerusalem. Awed by what they had witnessed, they killed their own father after hearing that Sancherev was planning to sacrificing them to his god Nisroch in exchange for salvation. Adramelech and Shartzer then escaped to Ararat and converted to Judaism. Although their intent was good, Adramelech and Shartzer still had to rectify the deed of murdering their own father. This was rectified in their reincarnation of Shmaya and Avtalyon.
Aristo the philosopher was from the same soul root as Avtalyon and that is why he lived the first part of his life as a Greek and then converted to Judaism.
 Vice President of the SanhedrinHillel almost froze to death trying to listen to a Torah discourse through the study hall skylight on a freezing winter night. This incident happened on Shabbos morning and Avtalyon and Shmaya desecrated the Shabbos to save the life of Hillel. When it became known that this happened since Hillel could not afford the entrance fee, the payment was abolished making Torah study accessible to all.
Read full Zissil article on the Shmaya
 Meaning of the Name Avtalyon
Avtalyon is a unification of the two words 'Av' meaning father in Hebrew and 'Talya' meaning minors in Aramaic. As destined by his name, Avtalyon ended up becoming the 'father of minors' by serving as the Av Beis Din which designated him as the decision maker for the assets and lives of young orphans.
 Respected by the People
 The Freed Slave Woman Sotah
 Students, Colleagues and Successors
Avtalyon's main students were Hillel and Shami. Leadership of Shmaya and Avtalyon lasted for a short period of six years. After Shmaya and Avtalyon passed away, the Jewish leadership was given to the Beni Besera who eventually passed it on to Hillel and Menachem. Eventually Menachem was replaced by Shami. Hillel openly declared that his superiority in Torah knowledge over the sages of his generation was due to his nullification to Shmaya and Avtalyon.
Other Tannaim that lived during the time of Avtalyon were; Akavya ben Mehallel, Admon, Channan, the Sons of Besera and Rebbe Yehuda ben Dursai.
In the Mechilta of Rebbe Yishmael, Avtalyon is quoted regarding the splitting of the Yam Suf.
During the era of Shmaya and Avtalyon, Halachic controversy was basically nonexistent amongst the Jewish nation. An exception was the argument over doing Semicha on the Kurbanos during the holidays, which had arisen three generations back. Avtalyon's opinion on the matter was not to do Semicha.
 Kever Shmaya and Avtalyon
The Arizal used to pray at Kever Shmaya and Avtalyon with his students. Once he told his students that Shmaya and Avtalyon besieged them to pray for the life of Moshiach ben Yosef. Foolishly they did not realize that this was a reference to the Arizal himself and he passed away shortly afterwards.
 Mikva of Shmaya and Avtalyon
In the moshav of Safsufa, around 4 km north of Meron, exists a natural spring water Mikva that is attributed to Shmaya and Avtalyon. According to this tradition Avtalyon used to immerse in the Mikva at some stage during his lifetime.