There are two stories of how the scholar, healer, philosopher, miracle-worker Haninah ben Dosa Worms - Medusa headwas bitten by a poisonous lizzard (snake or worm) while praying (“Babylonian Gemara” and “Jerusalem Talmud“).

Kabbalistic rabbis have sometimes identified Satan with the serpent. Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa had said the serpent endangered the lives of the people, and convincing the people that not the serpent killeth but sin.”

Hanina ben Dosa (1st century, CE) (Hebrew: חנינא בן דוסא‎) was a pupil of Johanan ben Zakkai (Berakhot, 34b). The Jewish sages applied to him the Biblical phrase “man of truth” and held him up as an example of a completely righteous man.

Here is the story of Hanina being bitten by a snake (worm).

When it bites the son of man (בר נשא : [bar nasha’]), if the son of man (בר נשא : [bar nasha’]) reaches the water first, then snake dies; and if the snake reaches the water first, the son of man (בר נשא : [bar nasha’]) dies. (Hebrew: כד הוות נכית לבר נשא אין בר נשא קדים למיא חברברא מיית ואין חברברא קדטם למיא בר נשא מיית)

Ḥanina never permitted anything to turn him from his devotions. Once, while thus engaged, a lizard bit him, but he did not interrupt his prayers. To his disciples’ anxious inquiries he answered that he had been so preoccupied in prayer as not even to feel the bite.

When the people found the reptile, dead, they exclaimed, “Wo to the man whom a lizard bites, and wo to the lizard that bites R. Ḥanina b. Dosa!”

His wonderful escape is accounted for by the assertion that the result of a lizard’s bite depends upon which reaches water first, the man or the lizard; if the former, the latter dies; if the latter, the former dies. In Ḥanina’s case a spring miraculously opened under his very feet (Yer. Ber. v. 9a).

Pin It on Pinterest