Tuesday, March 20, 2007

part two

When Alexander came to Jerusalem to conquer it, Simeon the Righteous came out to meet him and Alexander bowed down to him to the amazement of his servants. He told them that his image appeared to him in battle and made him victorious. In the chronicles of the Gentile kings it is written that he saw on his forehead the Name written on his diadem: it is called in Greek ‘tetragrammaton’. This means a name of four letters.
The Cutheans were delivered into his hand , and he killed them. The siege of the city was lifted. He requested that all boys born during that year would be named ‘Alexander’ after him, and that the calendar should be counted from that year. Since then years are counted from the month of Tishrei being coincident with the month of October. Thus it appears in the Talmud, and thus wrote our master Nissim, of blessed memory, that a year begins from Tishrei for this reason. This is how Israel counted the years, according to the Torah, for the purpose of the seven-year cycle and for the purpose of counting the years since Creation, ‘from the month ‘yerach eitanim’<=Tishrei>. [The Alexandrine era commenced one thousand years after the Exodus of Children of Israel from the land of Egypt.] That year was the year one thousand since the Exodus from Egypt. Ezra the Priest and the Scribe died on the tenth day of the month of Tevet, also Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, and from then the prophecy ceased in Israel.
When Alexander traveled from Jerusalem, he met Sanballat the Horonite, with some Israelites and with the sons of Joshua the High Priest, who had intermarried with the Cutheans (they were expelled from The House of the Lord by Ezra the Priest and by Nehemiah). He requested from Alexander that the priests – his sons-in-law – be permitted to build a temple on the Mount of Gerizim. The King commanded that this should be done and they built the temple.
Then Israel was split into two. Half of the people followed Simeon the Righteous and his disciple Antigonus and their school in accordance with the traditions received from Ezra and from the prophets, and half followed Sanballat and his sons-in-law who offered peace-offerings and burnt-offerings outside of the House of the Lord . They invented statutes out of their own heart, and in this temple served as priest the son-in-law of Sanballat, Manasseh son of Joshua, son of Jehozadak the High Priest. Then Zaddok and Boethus, the pupils of Antigonus assumed leadership, and this was the beginning of the heresy. They went during the time of Antigonus their teacher, to the temple of the Mount of Gerizim and became the leaders. This temple stood for about two hundred years, for it was built forty years after the Second Temple was built.
In the year 212 after the building of the Second Temple, corresponding to the year AM 3621 Mattathias son of Johanan, the High Priest, who was called Hasmonean, rebelled against Antioch, the King of Greece. He and his sons rose up against the viceroy of the King of Greece, who was ruling in Jerusalem, and killed him and all his army. He was Phillip the minister, who killed one thousand souls of Israel for they observed the Sabbath, by setting fire at the entrance of the cave.
Antioch killed the seven righteous children of Hannah, and she collapsed and died after their death, and the things that these righteous people said were a great praise to Israel. Then the old Eleazar the Pious was severely beaten, and his soul departed.
This Eleazar was one of the 72 elders who translated the Torah for Ptolemy, the King of Egypt and the King of Greece. They altered 18 things, see first chapter of Megillah and in Sofrim, for five elders wrote the Torah for Ptolemy in Greek. He later convened seventy elders and they altered 13 things for him. This Ptolemy was a wise and pious man, and he gave many gifts to the elders and to the Temple. In the chronicles of the Christians it is written that there were 300,000 philosophical books, and his sages told him ‘all the books you have are useless stories, and the important thing is to translate the divine Torah of the Jews’. Then he sent immediately to Jerusalem for the old Eleazar and the seventy-two elders and he honored them greatly and he rejoiced greatly.
After the old Eleazar died, Mattathias reigned for one year and then he anointed his son Judah the Warrior, as the anointed commander of the army. In his lifetime, Nikanor came to Jerusalem and was killed, and also Antioch the King of Greece came, and Judah defeated him. He fell from his chariot and broke all his bones, for he was very heavy. The Lord punished him an additional strike, and he stank as a rotting corpse and his own men fled from him. He swore to circumcise his flesh - the oppressor who had banned circumcision – but the Lord did not listen to his prayer. His innards fell to the ground and he died.
Judah and all the pious people came, and they purified the Temple, and they brought wood, but they did not find the sacred fire. They called out to the Lord, and fire came out of the stone on the altar, and they added wood, and this fire lasted until the third exile. The court of the Hasmonean forbade the union with gentile women as they are prostitutes, slaves, and do not observe the laws of purity. The schools of Shammai and of Hillel forbade yechud with a gentile woman in addition to the other statutes. They consecrated the altar in the month of Kislev on the 25th day thereof. They placed the shewbread and lit the light, and a great miracle occurred with the oil, as our rabbis, of blessed memory, received, see chapter Bame Madlikin. They praised the Lord for eight days.
Judah reigned for six years, and he was killed in a holy war the World to Come. After him, his brother Jonathan reigned, for his brother Eleazar had already been killed during the lifetime of Judah in a war. A large elephant fell upon him. He was a great hero. Jonathan ruled for six years. After this, his brother Simeon son of Mattathias reigned for eighteen years. These three brothers ruled for thirty years. They were righteous men, and Zechariah said of them, ‘so they paid me my price: thirty pieces of silver’. However, according to the chronicles of the Romans, Judah reigned for four years, Jonathan for nineteen years, and Simeon for eight years, and so it is according to the book of ben Gurion.
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Then the Romans began to conquer Israel and to subjugate it, as Judah befriended and advanced them. Indeed, they are the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision. Since Judah vanquished the Greeks, they made a covenant and stood by it for 26 years, and then for 128 years until the Destruction of the Temple, see AZ and the first chapter of Sabbath. Then they broke the covenant and from then onwards they (Israel) were enslaved to the Romans, and then the exile of Edom began.
After this, Johanan son of Simeon son of Mattathias reigned – he is also called Hyrcanus, and in the language of the Sages of blessed memory, Jannaeus. He went up and destroyed the temple of the Cutheans and killed the heretics. Upon his safe return, he made a feast for the sages. It was at that feast that the incident with Eleazar ben Poira occurred, as is mentioned in Kidushin, in the chapter Haomer, and he killed the sages. The king was extremely old, and after he served as High Priest for eighty years, according to our rabbis of blessed memory, he became a Sadducee.
In the opinion of Rashi, his wife was a sister of Simeon ben Shetach. Joseph ben Gurion disagrees with him. Rabbi Simeon Doran wrote in the third part of ‘Magen Avoth’, in the fourth chapter, as I have written, that the wife of his son Alexander was a sister of Simeon ben Shetach. Johanan died, and in his place reigned his son Alexander, also called Jannaeus by our Sages, of blessed memory. His wife was a sister of Simeon ben Shetach. Maybe she was the Queen Shelzion who is mentioned in the first chapter of Sabbath and in chapter three of Taanith. In the Taanith, it is said that Shelzion, the wife of the wicked Jannaeus, was a righteous woman.
He hated sages. On the Day of the Willow-Tree, he was hit on the forehead with a citron by one of their disciples, as was their custom, and he raised his hand and said ‘A sword!’ and the sages were killed, except for Simeon ben Shetach. Then Joshua son of Perahiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt, until Simeon ben Shetach pleaded with the king for mercy on his behalf and he returned. It was at the time of these kings that the Karaites sect came to being, and they were called ‘Sadducees’ and ‘Boethussians’.
We will return to our matters concerning Simeon the Righteous who was the High Priest for forty years. Five particular things occurred during his lifetime: the shining ribbon was bleached white, the lot fell on the right, the Western light was not extinguished and the altar fire burned well, but in the twilight hours, two logs of wood were added, as it was said ‘Burn wood upon it’. When he died, the strength of the altar fire weakened. Also the blessing of the Omer, and the two loaves of bread, and the shewbread. No Nazirite offering was accepted , except for that of the Nazirite with beautiful eyes from the South.
The Midrash Rabbah asks, ‘why didn’t they partake ? If you should say: ‘For a Nazirite commits sin since he causes himself sorrow by abstaining from wine,’ ‘Didn’t Simeon the Righteous ever partake of fat sin offerings or of blood sin offerings?’ : Simeon the Righteous was of the opinion that people take Nazirite oaths in anger, and since they take the oath in anger, they eventually regret it, and since they regret, they bring offerings as one who slaughters for profane purpose in the temple courtyard. But a Nazirite who vowed after careful consideration, and his mouth and his heart are as one, he is comely, . We further add that the others brought guilt offerings to release themselves for the mundane joys of drinking and rejoicing. They were holy, as the Holy One said, ‘The sign of his dedication to God is on his head’. Furthermore, it is said, ‘I also raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men’.
However, the intention was the opposite, one who swore the Nazirite oath must shave off his beautiful long hair at the end of the period of the Nazirite oath and sacrifice it to God. He should not retain it and be proud of his hair that was dedicated to God. In the Tosephta (chapter four of Nazir) it is written that he partake of the guilt offering of the defiled Nazirite who came from the South etc. In the chapter Hahovel in the Tosephta , Rabbi Eleazar Hakappar said that a sinful Nazirite transgresses the laws of purity, as is the simple meaning of the verse. If he is pure he still sins but to a small degree, and he has to observe as in case of daylong fast on Sabbath, caused by a dream.
He sacrificed two red heifers, while Moses sacrificed the first and Ezra the Priest the second red heifer. Every Day of Atonement an angel would enter with Simeon the Righteous, and leave with him, but in the year of his death the angel entered with him and did not come out. Then Simeon said immediately that he would die in that year. He fell ill on the seventh day after the Feast of Pilgrimage and died, as written in Yoma. He was the 23d recipient of the Oral Law. He left two sons, Shimei, and Honio. The Gaon spelled Honei, as is explained in Aruch. Honio was the wiser one of two, and his father wished that he should become the next High Priest, and there was an argument between them to such an extent that Honio fled to Alexandria, as we have said, and there he built a temple similar to the Temple. That is the reference to ‘Those who serve in the temple of Honio, etc’ as written at the end of Menachoth, and in longer form in the commentary of Mishna at the end of Menachoth.
The building of the Second Temple commenced in the year AM 3408, and it stood for four hundred and twenty years. In the 40th year after it was built, which was the year AM 3448, exactly 1000 years since the Torah was given , the prophecy ceased in Israel. Alexander came to Jerusalem, and commenced the dating from the month of Tishrei, as we have already said, that was the beginning of Alexander’s reign . We made it known that due to his very good deeds he is remembered as Simeon the Righteous, of blessed memory.
Antigonus of Soko received from Simeon the Righteous in the year AM 3460. Zaddok and Boethus, his pupils, were the leaders of the heretics who erred regarding the words of their teacher when he said ‘Be not like slaves etc’. The priests who did three things according to the opinions of the Sadducees died a sudden death, as it is written in the JT. The three things were the libation, the day purification by the red heifer, and the incense burning on the Day of Atonement. It should not be prepared outside and then brought inside. In the first chapter of Yoma in the Tosefta, it is expanded upon. There was a Boethussian priest, who told his father that he did so on the Day of Atonement, and he died within three days. In ‘Avoth deRabbi Nathan’ all the deeds of Zaddok and Boethus can be found. They used silver and gold utensils all their days.
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In his generation lived Rabbi Eleazar ben Harsom. His name is mentioned to condemn the rich who don’t study Torah. Nobody saw him but sitting and studying the Torah day and night. In the chapter ‘Omar lahem hamemune ‘ he was very rich and famous, he owned one thousand cities and one thousand ships. He was a very pious man. He served as High Priest for eleven years, see the first chapter of Yoma.
Antigonus received from Simeon the Righteous and his court in the year AM 3460. He was the 24th to receive .
Jose b. Joezer of Zeredah and Joseph b. Johanan of Jerusalem received from Antigonus, and from Simeon the Righteous. Therefore, it is written in the Mishna, they received from them (in plural). This is also the interpretation of Rabbi Meir the Levite son of Rabbi Todros from Toledo, in his commentary on the Avoth. Alternatively, maybe wished to say ‘From Antigonus and from his court’, like Rabbi Eliezer ben Harsom. Thus says the Rambam at the beginning of Mada.
That was the beginning of ’pairs’, which followed them, until Hillel and Shammai – altogether five pairs. This is what it means ‘received from the pairs’. In each pair, one was the Prince and the other was the Head of the Court. This is with the exception of Simeon ben Shetach and Judah ben Tabai. Regarding them there is a difference of opinion – Rabbi Meir says that Judah ben Tabai was the Prince and Simeon ben Shetach was the Head of the Court, and the sages say the opposite, and it would appear that the sages were right. Although Hagigah and Avoth state, that the Mishna is in accordance with Rabbi Meir, it means only that an anonymous Mishna is attributed to Rabbi Meir.
We see that he acted as the Prince, when he sent for Honi Hameagel. After this, he built the Chamber of Hewn Stones. At the end of Taanioth and in chapter three of Sanhedrin, it is said that he was the Head of the Sanhedrin and judged King Jannaeus. Furthermore, he was the brother of King’ wife, see Berachoth. In addition, he hanged eighty witches in one day in accordance with a special order, and it is unnecessary to expand on this.
The Head of the Court would not rule for judgment before the Prince, but would addend his own opinion, see chapter Ein Dorshin. Alternatively, if the Prince judged before the Head of the Court, as was the case with Rabban Gamliel in the case of his servant Tevi (whose eye he wounded), then he ruled before Rabbi Joshua, the Head of his Court. The Head of the Court was like the viceroy to the King, who was the Prince, I mean the Prince was like the King, and the Head of the Court sat to the right of the Prince and the two passed judgement together.
However, regarding the title of Sage, it is quoted in tractate Horayoth in the name of Rabbi Meir that he did not see the value of it. Maybe this was only with regard to Rabbi Meir. However, at the end of the Moed Katan there is reference to a Sage who performed the rites of Halizah on the right, the Head of the Court to the left and the Prince on either side. Rashi explains that there is a preference to rending on the left, on that day the sage was also on the right. The sage of a city is one who is asked for his ruling, but the Head of the Court is better.
In the first chapter of Kidushin, it is said that when a Sage passes by, one stands up and looks up and when he has passed by, one may sit. In the case of the Head of the Court, one remains standing until he has passed by four cubits and only then may one sit. In the case of the Prince, one may only sit when he himself is seated. Our master Asher wrote that this only applies in public places. The order of things given at the end of Horayoth is applicable within the house of study, and likewise wrote the Tosafoth.
All of these pairs were called by their names, like the prophets, and not prefixed with Rabban and Rabbi. This is the first pair, says Mishna in chapter nine of Sotah, when Jose b. Joezer and Joseph b. Johanan died, no many-sided men remained. It means they had all good qualities and wisdom, and Rashi interprets as Torah, the fear of sin and acts of kindness. In Temurah, chapter Esh Korbanoth Rabbi Judah says all the many-sided men which were in Israel from the days of Moses our master until the death of Jose b. Joezer would study the Torah like Moses our master. People say, but he disagreed on semicha, and so he did, and was wrong (see the argument in Mishnat Hagigah).
Jose b. Joezer established rules, see the first chapter of Sabbath. He was the pious of priests, see in the Mishna, chapter Ein Dorshin. It seems to me that in the Midrash of Psalms and in the Genesis Rabbah, chapter ‘When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes’ I read that Jose b. Joezer was killed in the Greek persecutions. Ioakim of Zerudoth, his sister’s son told him ‘Look at my horse’ and he replied, ‘If this is His wish regarding transgressors, how much more so with regard to His adherents’. He replied ‘Is there an adherent more devout that you?’ He replied ‘If it is thus with regard to His adherents, how much more so with those who transgress His will?’ This entered the heart of Ioakim, and he killed himself with four deaths for his atonement and for full repentance. Jose b. Joezer dozed for a while, and saw his deathbed floating in the air and he said, ‘For a moment this one preceded me to the Paradise etc’.
At that time there was Johanan the High Priest, the father of Mattathias, who laid down many regulations, and ordained two heifers, as did Simeon. See on ‘Johanan’ in the alphabetic order.
These received from Antigonus, in the year AM 3500, which is 92 years after the Second Temple was built. In the chapter Esh Nohlin, it would appear that it was in the days of Jannaeus, he consecrated all his possessions to the Temple, as his son was of poor behavior. They were the 25th recipients.
In the year 126 after the Second Temple was built there was Abrakus the astronomer.
Joshua ben Perahiah and Nittai the Arbelite and Mattathias ben Johanan received from them in the year 3560. It was 152 years after the Temple was built, about 60 years before the Hasmonean wars with Greece.
Joshua ben Perahiah lived for many years until the time of Jannaeus, who is called Alexander ben Hyrcanus the First, and who has been mentioned above: he was called Johanan and killed the sages, and also, before that, this is the same Hyrcanus who killed the Cutheans.
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In the chapter Tefilath Hashahar, there is a disagreement between Abbaye and Rava, whether Jannaeus was Johanan, and it would appear that both the father and the son were called Jannaeus, according to the Talmud. Hyrcanus was the same Johanan who served as the High Priest and became a Sadducee and killed the sages. His son Alexander was also called Jannaeus, and he was married to the Queen Shelzion, the sister of Simeon ben Shetach. It is found in the chapter Haomer in Kidushin: Jannaeus, who was called Hyrcanus, killed the sages who came to find him unfit to serve as High Priest, for he wished to be both High Priest and King, and he got heretical ideas regarding the Oral Law.
Later Simeon ben Shetach came along and returned the Torah to its old glory during the time of Alexander his son. He was married to the sister of Simeon ben Shetach (see in Berachoth, chapter Shelosha sheochlu), and he said the Grace after Meals for Jannaeus who had killed the sages because of citron, as we have said above. His sister, who was the wife of the King, hid Simeon ben Shetach.
At that time Joshua ben Perahiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt, which is also called ‘Amon Manu’. When they took Simeon ben Shetach out of his hiding, he was well received by the King. Simeon ben Shetach begged the mercy of the King that he should return Joshua. He wrote to him: ‘from Jerusalem the Holy City to Alexandria in Egypt, My husband stays with you and I sit desolate’, and he said, ‘It means I can return in peace’, and he came back (see at the end of Sotah).
Similar story told in Sanhedrin in the JT. Judah ben Tabbai fled to Alexandria so he would not be appointed a Prince. On the way, he had an encounter with his disciple, as happened to Judah ben Perahiah with Jesus the Nazarene.
The true tradition is that the Nazarene was his disciple. That was the third heretic sect, the sect of the pupils of Jesus the Nazarene, the Meshuamadim, who entered the teaching of Ma’amudiya and hence the term Meshumadim which really means Meshuamadim. The Ramban wrote, that meshumadim was the term used for those who turned aside to idol-worship, who by their deeds alienated themselves from the ways of their Father in Heaven, translated as ‘every son alienated from Israel’. In the translation it is clear that the letter ‘ayin’ is missing, it is meshumada’, for meshumad. (This is also the case with the word ‘dorkati’ which is from two words ‘dor katua’) According to the chapter Omar Rabbi Akiba in Sabbath, it seems Ramban is right, and according to the commentary of Rashi, it means ‘every son alienated from his Father in Heaven’. Ma’amudiya is the sect of Jesus who baptized by water: this is the interpretation of our master Hai. In Yavne, they proclaimed the Anathema to Heretics against them.
The truth is that the Nazarene was born in the fourth year of the reign of Jannaeus the Second (Alexander), which is the year 263 after the Temple was built, and the year 51 of the Hasmoneans, which is the year AM 3678. But Christians claim that he was born in the time of Herod, servant of the Hasmoneans, in the year AM 3760, and that he was hanged 35 years before the Destruction of the Temple at the age of thirty two. They say so in order to shame us and to tell us that we were punished for our iniquity immediately and swiftly, within forty years, by the Destruction of the Temple. This is not so, since his birth was 89 years earlier than what they claim.
The truth is that he was born in the year AM 3678, and in the year 299 after the Temple was built he was arrested, and he was 36 years old in the third year of Aristobulus son of Jannaeus. That is why the Sages of Israel wrote in a dispute with the Christians, that there is no reference in the Talmud to the Nazarene to whom they refer. In the chronicles of the Christians, there are a variety of opinions which year he was born. We know about him from Sabbath, Sotah, Sanhedrin, and from his disciples.
At the end of Menachoth we find that Joshua ben Perahiah would not have wished to rise to greatness, or to descend, having ascended. Anyway, Joshua ben Perahiah lived for many years, and came to Jerusalem from Alexandria around the year 296 after the Temple was built, which is the year AM 3704. They are the 26th recipients of the Oral Law.
Then there was the well-known and great astronomer Abrakos in the year 205 after the Second Temple was built. He agreed with our rabbis of blessed memory, in the measure of the lunar month as 29 days and 12 hours and 793 parts.
[The court of the Hasmonean forbade intercourse with a gentile woman, even on the sly. This was previously permitted as is brought to us in the Mizvoth, 122]
Judah ben Tabbai and Simeon ben Shetach received from them at the beginning of the reign of the Hasmoneans, in the year AM 3621, the year 213 since the construction of the Temple. We have already said that Simeon ben Shetach was the Prince and Judah ben Tabbai was the Head of the Court. The piousness of Judah ben Tabbai is well known. He killed a false witness to disabuse the Sadducees, but in this case, he erred in judgement. Thenceforth he did not sentence again but with his colleague Simeon. Every day he would cry for the one he had killed until the day of his death. He did not seek honors for himself.
However, Simeon ben Shetach was a very pious man. Once there were two false witnesses against his son and he was sentenced to death. The witnesses retracted and admitted it was out of hatred for the father that they bore false witness, because he killed the witches. Nevertheless, his pious son told him to carry out the sentence rather than overturn a Torah ruling for him (see Sanhedrin in the JT). Rashi explains in the chapter Nigmar Hadin, that he did not pervert the justice for the king. Gabriel came for his sake and hit the members of the Sanhedrin on the ground (see chapter Kohen Gadol).
He returned the Torah to its original glory, and he established regulations, see the first chapter of Sabbath and elsewhere. He made the marriage contract in such a way that all man’s property would be stipulated to the contract.
He hanged eighty women witches on one day in his great wisdom. The Sanhedrin must know witchcraft in order to decide for what witchery the witch must be killed. Rashi explains in the chapter Haomed: if the accused is a sorcerer, and he will make the light, such that he does not have control over it, they will do witchcraft and kill him.
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The reader already knows that he was the brother-in-law of the King Jannaeus. In his day lived the great sage and pious man Honi Hameagel, known for his prayers (see the end of Taaniyot). In the book of Joseph ben Gurion the Priest, it is said that he was killed outside of Jerusalem, when the Hasmonean Kings fought each other, meaning Hyrcanus, and Aristobulus, who were brothers, the sons of Alexander, the son of Hyrcanus the First.
Then was decreed: cursed is one who keeps pigs, and cursed is one who teaches his son Hellenistic wisdom. Should you claim that it was already decreed so at the time of Titus, the Tosafoth explained: the ruling was decreed in general, but it was not universally accepted, also there is a difference, is amongst the cursed and not simply a transgressor. Finally, there was a ruling by Sages.
This Hyrcanus was the last of the Hasmonean dynasty, as Herod son of Antimatter, his servant, killed him. Two rulings were then decreed, see beginning of chapter Meruba, and at the end of Sotah and in Menachoth in the chapter Rabbi Ishmael. At that time lived Mordecai the Jew and he was over four hundred years old. At that time, they brought the wheat sacrifice and the two loaves from afar to Jerusalem.
The Talmud does not mention the killing of Honi Hameagel. It is written that he slept for seventy years, which is the life of man, and the years passed in a dream, as if it was one day. In the third chapter of Magen Avoth concerning the dream, Rabbi Doran says that it is against the nature, (unless it is a miracle) that a man should sleep for seventy years, but since his body heat would cool, he wouldn’t be worn by time. As the time is connected to the movement, and one who does not move would not sense the passage of time. Indeed, he who says that this does not seem possible other than by a miracle takes it at face value. Since they did not show respect to Honi Hameagel in his old age, he asked for death, for the World to Come. The Megillath Taanith says, for three consecutive years there was a drought, until Honi Hameagel went down to pray. In those days there was Elihoeini ben Hekeph the High Priest who ordained one red heifer. They were the 27th recipients .
Shemaiah and Avtalion received from them, one was the Prince, the other the Head of the Court. Our master Hananel wrote ‘How did it come about that they appointed a Prince over the House of David, for Jose ben Joezer was a Prince and also a Priest’. Although regarding Simeon and Antigonus no Head of Court is mentioned, there always was a Head of Court, just they did not list their names. This was the custom in Israel, and thus was said at the end of Moed Katan concerning Saul – that he was the Prince, while Jonathan was the Head of the Court.
Thus is said in the chapter Hayashan, ‘When is there an eclipse of the sun? When a Head of Court dies and is not eulogized adequately etc’. Although this is a proverb, it contains a secret. [Rabbi Isaac Israeli has offered a fine explanation in Yesod Olam, but it remains a secret]. The Prince is called in the Torah ‘King’. This is true whether he descends from King David, or from the Kings of Israel whom did prophets anoint.
Thus we find in the Mishna in chapter three of Horayoth, ‘a Prince is a King, as it is said when a Prince sins, transgressing any commandment of the Lord his God – who is above him but the Lord his God’. This was also the case with the Exilarch in Babylon, who was of royal blood via Jehoiachin, who was called ‘The scepter of the Right, the scepter of your kingdom’. ‘The scepter will not depart from Judah’ – this is the Exilarch in Babylon. However, to Hillel and all his descendants they referred ‘nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet’. That is why our saintly master, who was a Prince, is not called Prince, even though he was a descendant of David, of the children of Shephatiah son of Abital, the wife of David. JT and the Genesis Rabbah say, Rabbi was from the tribe [of Judah] on his mother’s side, and from the tribe of Benjamin on his father’s side.
Rabbi Hiyya told him ‘Your rival is in Babylon’. The Exilarch was then one named Rav Huna, and he was his subject. This was not the Rav Huna, the disciple of Rav mentioned in the Talmud, for he died during the lifetime of Rabbi and was buried in the land of Israel. He was of royal blood via Jehoiahin and Zerubbabel. They were Princes mentioned just by name alone, without the title ‘Prince’. Thus Shemaiah was a Prince, but called just by his name alone.
This was not said of these alone because they were proselytes. Shemaiah and Avtalion were the grandchildren of Sennacherib (see Gittin and Sanhedrin), but even Simeon the Righteous and Hillel were as Princes. They were presiding in the Chamber of Hewn Stone over seventy of the Sanhedrin, and there was no king to sit amongst them , like Moses for them, who was a King and a Prince, and they had a Prince instead. For in the Second Temple there was only Zerubbabel. In these times, the priests were kings unlawfully. In addition, Herod in the time of Hillel was unlawful , as he was a proselyte or a slave. They interpreted the verse ‘he must be from your own brothers’. Even more so should there be a descendant of David in the world.
Both Shemaiah and Avtalion were born of an Israelite mother, so they could judge. A Prince who waived his honor may do so, but the King may not waive his honor. These were surely righteous proselytes performing the deeds of Aaron, see Yoma. Since it is not my intention to be lengthy, for otherwise it would be a very large book, and it will be weighty to copy, I will not quote all the data concerning the sages, but rather one or two things to provide the required benefit.
They <> received in the year AM 3722, year 314 since the construction of the Temple. In their time there were Judah ben Dortai, who parted with the Sages, he and Dortai his son. They moved to the South in order to avoid pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He was of the opinion that the feast sacrifice takes precedence over Sabbath, as does the Passover sacrifice. He said, ‘I wonder why two great men of the generation, Shemaiah and Avtalion, who are great sages and great interpreters of the law, did not say to Israel that the feast sacrifice precedence over Sabbath’. In the Gemara, Rav Mari supported his <> opinion, ‘sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God of sheep and cattle’. It annoyed Rav Ashi, and he said, ‘If you support the schismatic, we can also do a schism’. He meant that it is forbidden to support a schismatic opinion. In the commentary to the chapter Elu dvarim, our master Asher explained the words ‘support the schismatic’ as ‘that is a schismatic explanation’.
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In their time, there was Akaviah ben Mehalalel. Rabbi Judah ben Ilai referred to him in the tractate Eduyoth: ‘The Temple court was never closed in the face of a man of Israel of such wisdom and fear of sin as Akaviah’. Since after the death of Shemaiah and Avtalion he spoke disrespectfully, it is possible he was excommunicated.
He did not intend to malign them when he said, ‘Similar drink’. There are two possible explanations. First, ‘they were proselytes similar to her’, but he wished to say that they did not give her bitter water, but a similar drink in order to frighten her. We know that this was after they died (see Berachoth, chapter Mishemetu), as it is written ‘who tells after the hearse of the scholars’. However, Aruch, in article Acher interprets it as ‘who tells misleading words’ meaning ‘who misled people from the right path’. This is as R. Ishmael taught ‘should you see a scholar sin at night, do not think of it during the day’. Likewise, our master Asher interprets on Berachoth. However, our master Hananel interprets ‘Who maligns them after their death’ and this is the true explanation.
In Sifrei, this story is told, and concluded, he who maligned an Elder after his death should be excommunicated. I also found in the article Dugma that he retracted, and explained it thus. In the Tosafoth, it is said: ‘when peace reigns in Israel’. That is to say after their death, as then there is no place for polemics, one does not malign dead. So it means ‘after their death’. Rashi explained the above as referring to one who emphasizes their negative points rather than positive to force the negative outcome . I, Abraham, received that whether the term is from the meaning ‘hearse’ or misleading’, anyway it refers to ‘speaking of one after his death’. It is said, ‘the rod of the wicked will not rest’, meaning ‘the tongue’, as in the verse ‘he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth’. ‘On the destiny of the righteous’ meaning ‘the destiny of the righteous after their death’, as it is said, ‘you will rise to your destiny at the end of days’. ‘Do good, o Lord, to those who are good, ... but the deceivers he will banish etc’
The son of Akaviah was also a sage, and his father instructed him to obey the sages and to heed their words, in his piousness (see Eduyoth).
Admon and Hanan ben Avishalom, great sages and civil judges in Jerusalem, were mentioned in the last chapter of Ketuboth. Rambam, of blessed memory, wrote, that R. Miasha was of their company, but it does not seem likely. In the tractate of Peah, Nahum the Scribe testified that he received from R. Miasha, and R. Miasha received from Abba who received from the pairs etc. It means, that R. Miasha was after Hillel and Shammai, who were among pairs, consequently, that he himself received from pairs like Hillel and Shammai who received from Shemaiah and Avtalion. If Rambam would be right, he would not have mentioned the last pairs. The words of truth are about to follow from the mouth of the sage. It is more likely that he came after Hillel. We see in chapter Kohen Gadol veNazir it is said that they received from the Prophets the tradition given to Moses at Sinai. They do not mention Joshua and the Elders, who are Caleb and his school, for there is no need to mention the intermediary ones, since it was from them that it was known.
This is not R. Miasha the Amora, the grandson of R. Judah ben Levi, the contemporary of Hillel’s sons. If Rambam has no other evidence from the Talmud, and I, myself, have not seen another one, but from the Mishna it seems that he was after Hillel. The words of Nahum the Scribe do not correspond to the time of Hillel (in Peah), but rather to the time of Rabban Gamliel the Elder, his grandson.
Shemaiah and Avtalion were the 28th recipients .
In my opinion, the sons of Bethyrah were in the company of Shemaiah and Avtalion, as was Akaviah. Hillel came to be Prince after them. They appointed Hillel as the Prince and out of great humility relinquished the position. Rabbi said, although he himself was humble, he could never compare with the sons of Bethyrah, who gave the princedom to Hillel the Elder. It happened because Hillel knew that Passover sacrifice overrules Sabbath , see Pesahim, the chapter Elu Hadvorim. This rule escaped the recollection of the sons of Bethyrah, so they appointed him as Prince. After the Destruction they were with Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, when he ruled to blow the shofar on Sabbath in the court in Yavne, see Rosh Hashanah and the JT.
Within two seven-years’ cycles there should be a Passover falling on Sabbath. Why had the ruling been forgotten, - just to magnify Hillel. Why does one observe respect in the earthly courts – just to minimize the division amongst Israel. Rashi comments on the first chapter of Taanioth, that R. Judah ben Bethyrah and R. Joshua his brother lived in the time of Hillel. This is odd, for it is written in chapter 4 Mithoth in the JT, that R. Joshua and R. Eliezer were the disciples of disciples of Hillel. They gave birth to the father of R. Judah ben Bethyrah.
R. Judah ben Bethyrah lived in Babylon, in Nisibis, at the time of the Temple, see the beginning of Pesahim. Rashbam, of blessed memory, explains why he was in Babylon. He did not make a pilgrimage for he was old and could not make the pilgrimage, and an old person is exempt. He lived for a long time, until the days of Rav and Samuel. He blessed Abba, father of Samuel, that he should have a wise son, see Midrash Samuel on the verse ‘and all Israel from Dan until Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord‘. In Sabbath, chapters Rabbi Eliezer and Kol Basar it appears he lived in the time of Levi that to Rabbi Atariah in the name of R. Judah ben Bethyrah that he interpreted like Rabbi Jose the Galilean.
Hillel and Shammai received from them. At first, Hillel shared his position with Menahem, but Menahem left for the king’s service. He had eighty men dressed in gold, see Hagigah. It is mentioned in the book of Ben Gurion, that Menahem was a great sage, like a prophet. He made many prophecies, and he prophesied to Herod, when was still young, that would reign. After began to reign, he sent . told him that he would reign for over thirty years. He actually reigned for 36 years. enriched him.
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Indeed, Herod greatly respected Hillel the Elder, for they supported his rule. It is written there that Shammai was the disciple of Hillel. Maybe this was the case in the time of Menahem, but afterwards was a colleague of Hillel. Shammai the Elder also prophesied that Herod would be king. It happened when was judged by the Synedrion, and they overlooked that he killed a man. Then said that would reign, and would kill them . Herod did not raise his hand against Hillel and Shammai and Menahem and their factions, as he respected them.
Hillel was called ‘The Babylonian’ because he was from Babylon, of high lineage, see chapter Asara Yohassin, where they spoke with Rabbi on lineage. He came from Babylon and there he studied Torah with Shemaiah and Avtalion. They also came to Jerusalem, see Yoma and Avoth deRabbi Nathan that he spoke Babylonian. He said four things in the Mishna. ‘ magnifies his name will lose his name. doesn’t add will lose . doesn’t wish to teach shall be destroyed. uses will perish’. , he who uses the Ineffable Name has no place in the World to Come’. ‘Read and turn over and over’ they say that it was Hillel who said this. They say so about ‘killed and are killed’ as well, as he was Babylonian. Shemaiah and Avtalion were in Jerusalem when the High Priest came out of the Temple on the Day of Atonement.
Hillel learned Torah in great poverty, see in the chapter Omar Lahem Hamemune. His rich brother Shebna did not assist him, as did Azariah to his brother Simeon, see the end of Sotah. At the end of Netiv Sheni it is written that the brother of Hillel did not take his part, as he did not assist Hillel before he began his studies. This is despite that he did assist him after he studied. lived for 120 years. He was 40 years old when he came from Babylon, and he studied for forty years, and for forty years he led Israel. He was a very humble man, see Sabbath, and in chapter Yom Tov. Out of humility and for the sake of peace, he said the victim for the peace offering was female though it was male.
Shammai was a stringent man, and their disciples followed their masters’ ways. This is why the law is in accordance with the opinion of Hillel school (see the first chapter of Eruvin, and in the first chapter of Berachoth in the JT), that the Divine Voice said in Yavne, ‘the ruling is in accordance with the School of Hillel’. Since then the School of Shammai’s opinion never prevailed but once (see chapter five in Terumoth).
Shammai and Hillel received in the year AM 3728, year 320 since the construction of the Temple. Until the time of Hillel, six hundred orders of the Mishna were read, from our master Moses, may he have peace, until the sons of Bethyrah. Hillel arranged six orders of Oral Law, so that the Torah would not be forgotten. This was at the beginning of the reign of Herod, the servant of the Hasmoneans. At that time, in the days of Hillel, Herod built the Temple of a beauty that exceeded that of Solomon. While it was built, there was no daytime rain, so the building work would not cease. In the commentary to the beginning of Sabbath , Hillel became the Prince one hundred years before the Destruction of the Temple. Simeon, his son, and Rabban Gamliel the Elder, his grandson, and Rabban Simeon ben Gamliel who was killed at the Destruction of the Second Temple, served as Princes in the Temple for one hundred years, that is to say for a hundred years while the Temple stood. Rashi explains there at length.
was a descendant of David, through Shephatiah son of Abital, see Ketuboth, chapter Hanose, on arranging marriage of R. Hiya’s daughter. She died while engaged to Rabbi’s son. In the chapter Bame Behema Rav says, ‘Rabbi is of David’s blood’. In the Tosafoth on the first chapter of Sanhedrin, it is written ‘the Exilarch in Babylon descended from King David through the male line, and the Prince in the land of Israel - through the female line’.
As we have said, Genesis Rabbah in the portion God remembered Noah states it was from his mother’s side, while his father was a Benjamite. Hillel greatly multiplied Torah in Israel, and Shammai was his colleague. They did not disagree, except for six cases, see the first chapter of Sabbath. Their followers created the disagreement between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai. They decreed many rules and decrees, see Gittin and elsewhere. In the chapter Hasholeah Get the Tosafoth wrote in the JT, that concerning eighteen cases of disagreement between the Schools of Shammai and Hillel, even Elijah could not settle the differences. The disciples of the School of Shammai were killing the disciples of the School of Hillel, and threatened their lives. Hillel had eighty disciples, I mean the outstanding ones, see Sukkah chapter Yashan and Bava Batra chapter Esh Nochlin.
The greatest of them all was Jonathan ben Uzziel, who translated the prophets, see Megillah, and there was no end to his wisdom. Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai the Priest, was the least of them, so one can imagine the rest. Jonathan ben Uzziel was so great, that even Shammai the Elder came to him (see there, chapter Esh Nohlin).
In Hillel’s days Bava ben Buta was a disciple of Shammai the Elder. In Gittin we find of his wisdom. He acquitted a woman who was accused of sexual misbehavior, and said that sperm does not coagulate in fire, while the white of an egg does coagulate. He was blinded by Herod, (see Batra), when killed the sages. He advised to build the temple as atonement for having extinguished the light of the sages. was afraid of them, as it is written, ‘you can’t etc’ In Nedarim, R. Eliezer tells that he was a judge and a humble man. He made peace between a man and his wife, and the story is found there. Though he was a Shammai’s disciple, in semicha disagreement he sided with the School of Hillel, see the second chapter of Yom Tov, there it is made clear. In the last chapter of Keritoth in the Mishna we find that Bava ben Buta was a pious man, and would offer a guilt offering every day, but on the day following the Day of Atonement. This is called ‘the guilt offering of pious men’. As for sages whom Rambam, of blessed memory, places in the days of Hillel, we found them living later, in the time of the Schools of Shammai and Hillel the Elders. It was close to the time of the Destruction of the Temple in the days of Rabban Gamliel the Elder.

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