What is the greatest
sin of all?
translation from Sefaria.org, with some emendations)
מִפְּנֵי מָה חָרַב — מִפְּנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים שֶׁהָיוּ בּוֹ: עֲבוֹדָה
זָרָה, וְגִלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת, וּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, דִּכְתִיב:
״כִּי קָצַר הַמַּצָּע מֵהִשְׂתָּרֵעַ״.
Due to what reason was
the First Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that
there were three matters that existed in the First Temple: Idol
worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed.
Idol worship, as it
is written: “The bed is too short for stretching [mehistare’a], and the cover is
too narrow for gathering” (Isaiah 28:20).
הַמַּצָּע מֵהִשְׂתָּרֵעַ״? אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן: קָצַר מַצָּע זֶה
מֵהִשְׂתָּרֵר עָלָיו שְׁנֵי רֵעִים כְּאֶחָד.
[This is a play on
words, intimating that the bed is too small for two competing lovers, God and
the pagan idol, a reference to King Menasseh who introduced pagan idols into
דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ יַעַן כִּי גָבְהוּ בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן וַתֵּלַכְנָה
נְטוּיוֹת גָּרוֹן וּמְשַׂקְּרוֹת עֵינָיִם הָלוֹךְ וְטָפוֹף תֵּלַכְנָה
וּבְרַגְלֵיהֶן תְּעַכַּסְנָה״. ״יַעַן כִּי גָּבְהוּ בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן״ — שֶׁהָיוּ
מְהַלְּכוֹת אֲרוּכָּה בְּצַד קְצָרָה. ״וַתֵּלַכְנָה נְטוּיוֹת גָּרוֹן״ —
שֶׁהָיוּ מְהַלְּכוֹת בְּקוֹמָה זְקוּפָה. ״וּמְשַׂקְּרוֹת עֵינַיִם״ — דַּהֲווֹ
מָלְיָין כּוּחְלָא עֵינֵיהֶן. ״הָלוֹךְ וְטָפוֹף תֵּלַכְנָה״ — שֶׁהָיוּ
מְהַלְּכוֹת עָקֵב בְּצַד גּוּדָל. ״וּבְרַגְלֵיהֶן תְּעַכַּסְנָה״ — אָמַר רַבִּי
יִצְחָק: שֶׁהָיוּ מְבִיאוֹת מוֹר וַאֲפַרְסְמוֹן וּמַנִּיחוֹת בְּמִנְעֲלֵיהֶן,
וּכְשֶׁמַּגִּיעוֹת אֵצֶל בַּחוּרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בּוֹעֲטוֹת וּמַתִּיזוֹת עֲלֵיהֶן,
וּמַכְנִיסִין בָּהֶן יֵצֶר הָרָע כְּאֶרֶס בְּכָעוּס.
With regard to forbidden
sexual relations, it is written: “The Lord says because the daughters of Zion
are haughty and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and
mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet” (Isaiah 3:16).
[In short, blaming
the women for enticing young men with their posture, winks, and perfumes.]
דִּכְתִיב: ״וְגַם דָּם נָקִי שָׁפַךְ מְנַשֶּׁה [הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד] עַד אֲשֶׁר
מִלֵּא אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם פֶּה לָפֶה״.
With regard to bloodshed
it is written: “Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, until he had
filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (II Kings 21:16). Baal and
[Menasseh, as king,
reversed the reforms of his father, King Hezekiah, and restored the Baal and
Ashera to the Temple, allied himself to Assyria, offered his own son to Moloch,
and carried out purges against the Prophets, possibly including even Isaiah.
Here there, is no
need for an expiation. Blame the men!
Talk about equal opportunity—two blame the men, one blames the women]
What was different
about the 2nd Temple?
שֵׁנִי שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹסְקִין בְּתוֹרָה וּבְמִצְוֹת וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, מִפְּנֵי
מָה חָרַב? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיְתָה בּוֹ שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם. לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁשְּׁקוּלָה
שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם כְּנֶגֶד שָׁלֹשׁ עֲבֵירוֹת: עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, גִּלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת,
However, considering that
the people during the Second Temple period were engaged in Torah
study, observance of mitzvot, and acts of kindness, and that they did
not perform the sinful acts that were performed in the First Temple, why was
the Second Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that
there was wanton hatred during that period. This comes to teach you that
the sin of wanton hatred is equivalent to the three severe transgressions:
Idol worship, forbidden sexual relations and bloodshed.
[Regarding the sins
of the First Temple period:]
אֶלָּא שֶׁתָּלוּ בִּטְחוֹנָם בְּהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. אֲתָאן לְמִקְדָּשׁ
רִאשׁוֹן, דִּכְתִיב: ״רָאשֶׁיהָ בְּשׁוֹחַד יִשְׁפּוֹטוּ וְכֹהֲנֶיהָ בִּמְחִיר
יוֹרוּ וּנְבִיאֶיהָ בְּכֶסֶף יִקְסוֹמוּ וְעַל ה׳ יִשָּׁעֵנוּ לֵאמֹר הֲלֹא ה׳
בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ לֹא תָבוֹא עָלֵינוּ רָעָה״. לְפִיכָךְ הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן הַקָּדוֹשׁ
בָּרוּךְ הוּא שָׁלֹשׁ גְּזֵרוֹת כְּנֶגֶד שָׁלֹשׁ עֲבֵירוֹת שֶׁבְּיָדָם,
שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לָכֵן בִּגְלַלְכֶם צִיּוֹן שָׂדֶה תֵחָרֵשׁ וִירוּשָׁלִַים עִיִּין
תִּהְיֶה וְהַר הַבַּיִת לְבָמוֹת יָעַר״.
continues: They were wicked; however, they put their faith in the Holy One,
Blessed be He. With that statement we have come to the First
Temple era, about which it is written: “Her chiefs judge for bribes, her
priests give rulings for a fee, and her prophets divine for pay; yet they rely
on the Lord, saying: The Lord is in our midst, no tragedy will overtake us”
(Micah 3:11…. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, brought upon them
three decrees corresponding to their three wicked sins, as it is stated:
“Therefore, due to you Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become
heaps of ruins, and the Temple Mount will be a like a shrine in the woods”
[In other words, it
was their hypocrisy, hiding behind the faith that God would save them,
no matter what, that ruined them.]
[What about hatred
in the First Temple]
רִאשׁוֹן לָא הֲוָה בֵּיהּ שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם? וְהָכְתִיב: ״מְגוּרֵי אֶל חֶרֶב
הָיוּ אֶת עַמִּי לָכֵן סְפוֹק אֶל יָרֵךְ״, וְאָמַר רַבִּי (אֱלִיעֶזֶר): אֵלּוּ
בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁאוֹכְלִין וְשׁוֹתִין זֶה עִם זֶה וְדוֹקְרִין זֶה אֶת זֶה
The Gemara asks: And
in the First Temple era was there really no baseless hatred?
Isn’t it written: “Cry and wail, son of man, for this will befall my
people, this will befall all the princes of Israel: They will be cast before
the sword together with my people, therefore strike the thigh” (Ezekiel
21:17)? Rabbi Eliezer interpreted this verse and said: These are
people who eat and drink with each other and stab each other with verbal barbs.
Apparently, even those who were close were filled with hatred toward one
[ There was still a
chance of survival of the Judeans even after the fall of Jerusalem. Gedaliah
was appointed governor by the Babylonians and started the process of rebuilding
the farm lands of Judea. He was assassinated by a man whose life he had spared,
and as a result, the remnants of Judea fled to Egypt, finally, emptying the
[The crime of the
יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲוַאי, דִּכְתִיב: ״זְעַק וְהֵילֵל בֶּן אָדָם כִּי הִיא הָיְתָה
בְעַמִּי״, וְתַנְיָא: ״זְעַק וְהֵילֵל בֶּן אָדָם״, יָכוֹל לַכֹּל? תַּלְמוּד
לוֹמַר: ״הִיא בְּכׇל נְשִׂיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל״.
The Gemara answers: That
behavior was found only among the princes of Israel, as it is
written: “Cry and wail, son of man, for this will befall my people”; and it was
taught in a baraita: “Cry and wail, son of man, for this will
befall my people”; one might have thought that this unsavory trait was
common to all. Therefore, the verse states: “This will befall all the
princes of Israel.” It was only the leaders of the nation who harbored
baseless hatred for each other; the people of the nation as a whole did not
hate one another.
[The hypocrisy of
the people made the punishment worse the second time round:]
וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר דְּאָמְרִי תַּרְוַויְיהוּ: רִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁנִּתְגַּלָּה
עֲוֹנָם — נִתְגַּלָּה קִצָּם. אַחֲרוֹנִים שֶׁלֹּא נִתְגַּלָּה עֲוֹנָם — לֹא
§ It was Rabbi
Yoḥanan and Rabbi Elazar who both said: In the case of the former,
the people in the First Temple era, whose sin was exposed and no attempt
was made to disguise their conduct, the end of their punishment was
exposed, and the prophet informed them that they would return to their land
in seventy years. In the case of the latter, the people in the Second
Temple era, whose sin was not exposed; rather, they attempted to
disguise their conduct, the end of their punishment was not
exposed. [ In short, we will never know when the end of exile will come]
Who were really
better? The people of the first, or of the second Temple?
יוֹחָנָן: טוֹבָה צִפּוֹרְנָן שֶׁל רִאשׁוֹנִים, מִכְּרֵיסוֹ שֶׁל אַחֲרוֹנִים.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: אַדְּרַבָּה אַחֲרוֹנִים עֲדִיפִי, אַף עַל גַּב
דְּאִיכָּא שִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכִיּוֹת — קָא עָסְקִי בְּתוֹרָה. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: בִּירָה
תּוֹכִיחַ, שֶׁחָזְרָה לָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְלֹא חָזְרָה לָאַחֲרוֹנִים.
Rabbi Yoḥanan said:
The fingernails of the former[first Temple] are preferable to the belly of the
latter[2nd Temple]. Reish Lakish said to him: On the contrary, the
latter were superior; even though there is subjugation by the kingdoms, they
are engaged in Torah study. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to Reish Lakish: The
Temple will prove that the former were superior, as it was restored
to the former. The Second Temple was constructed after the destruction of
the first. However, after the destruction of the Second Temple, it was not
restored to the latter. Apparently, the former were superior to the latter.
[In short, even with
engagement in Torah study, we are still paying the price==and that was said 2
centuries afterwards=we are 2 millenia afterwards]
שָׁאֲלוּ אֶת רַבִּי
אֶלְעָזָר: רִאשׁוֹנִים גְּדוֹלִים, אוֹ אַחֲרוֹנִים גְּדוֹלִים? אָמַר לָהֶם:
תְּנוּ עֵינֵיכֶם בַּבִּירָה. אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי, אָמַר לָהֶם: עֵידֵיכֶם
Similarly, the Sages
asked Rabbi Elazar: Are the former greater or are the latter greater? He
said to them: Look to the Temple and see if it has been restored, as it was
to our predecessors. Some say the exchange was slightly different: He
said to them: The Temple is your witness. The restoration of the Temple
after the destruction of the First Temple, attests to the fact that the former
generation was greater.
In short, the price
of groundless hatred was much greater!
So what is the
example that our sages give us?
A tale of kamtza( a mere nothing, a locust) and bar kamzta(
son of a mere nothing, son of a locust)
יוֹחָנָן, מַאי דִּכְתִיב: ״אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם מְפַחֵד תָּמִיד וּמַקְשֶׁה לִבּוֹ
יִפּוֹל בְּרָעָה״? אַקַּמְצָא וּבַר קַמְצָא חֲרוּב יְרוּשָׁלַיִם,
אַתַּרְנְגוֹלָא וְתַרְנְגוֹלְתָּא חֲרוּב טוּר מַלְכָּא, אַשָּׁקָא דְרִיסְפַּק
§ Apropos the war
that led to the destruction of the Second Temple, the Gemara examines several
aspects of the destruction of that Temple in greater detail: Rabbi Yoḥanan
said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Happy is the man
who fears always, but he who hardens his heart shall fall into mischief”
(Proverbs 28:14)? Jerusalem was destroyed on account of Kamtza and bar
Kamtza. The place known as the King’s Mountain was destroyed on account
of a rooster and a hen. The city of Beitar was destroyed on account of a
shaft from a chariot [rispak].
קַמְצָא חֲרוּב יְרוּשָׁלַיִם – דְּהָהוּא גַּבְרָא דְּרָחֲמֵיהּ קַמְצָא, וּבְעֵל
דְּבָבֵיהּ בַּר קַמְצָא. עֲבַד סְעוֹדְתָּא, אֲמַר לֵיהּ לְשַׁמָּעֵיהּ: זִיל
אַיְיתִי לִי קַמְצָא. אֲזַל אַיְיתִי לֵיהּ בַּר קַמְצָא.
The Gemara explains:
Jerusalem was destroyed on account of Kamtza and bar Kamtza. This is as
there was a certain man whose friend was named Kamtza and whose enemy
was named bar Kamtza. He once made a large feast and said
to his servant: Go bring me my friend Kamtza. The servant went
and mistakenly brought him his enemy bar Kamtza.
דַּהֲוָה יָתֵיב. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: מִכְּדֵי הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בְּעֵל דְּבָבֵאּ
דְּהָהוּא גַּבְרָא הוּא, מַאי בָּעֵית הָכָא? קוּם פּוֹק! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הוֹאִיל
וַאֲתַאי, שִׁבְקַן וְיָהֵיבְנָא לָךְ דְּמֵי מָה דְּאָכֵילְנָא וְשָׁתֵינָא.
The man who was
hosting the feast came and found bar Kamtza sitting at the feast.
The host said to bar Kamtza. That man is the enemy [ba’al devava]
of that man, that is, you are my enemy. What then do you want
here? Arise and leave. Bar Kamtza said to him: Since I have
already come, let me stay and I will give you money for whatever I
eat and drink. Just do not embarrass me by sending me out.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לָא.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: יָהֵיבְנָא לָךְ דְּמֵי פַּלְגָא דִּסְעוֹדְתָּיךְ! אֲמַר לֵיהּ:
לָא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: יָהֵיבְנָא לָךְ דְּמֵי כּוּלַּהּ סְעוֹדְתָּיךְ! אֲמַר לֵיהּ:
לָא. נַקְטֵיהּ בִּידֵיהּ וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ וְאַפְּקֵיהּ.
The host said to
him: No, you must leave. Bar Kamtza said to him: I will give you money
for half of the feast; just do not send me away. The host said to him:
No, you must leave. Bar Kamtza then said to him: I will give you money
for the entire feast; just let me stay. The host said to him: No,
you must leave. Finally, the host took bar Kamtza by his hand, stood
him up, and took him out.
וַהֲווֹ יָתְבִי רַבָּנַן וְלָא מַחוֹ בֵּיהּ, שְׁמַע מִינַּהּ קָא נִיחָא לְהוּ,
אֵיזִיל אֵיכוֹל בְּהוּ קוּרְצָא בֵּי מַלְכָּא. אֲזַל אֲמַר לֵיהּ לְקֵיסָר:
מְרַדוּ בָּךְ יְהוּדָאֵי! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: מִי יֵימַר? אֲמַר לֵיהּ: שַׁדַּר לְהוּ
קוּרְבָּנָא, חָזֵית אִי מַקְרְבִין לֵיהּ.
After having been
cast out from the feast, bar Kamtza said to himself: Since the Sages
were sitting there and did not protest the actions of the host,
although they saw how he humiliated me, learn from it that they were content
with what he did. I will therefore go and inform [eikhul kurtza]
against them to the king.
[ The failure of
leadership to prevent public shaming led to the destruction , as well]
He went and said to the
emperor: The Jews have rebelled against you. The emperor said to him:
Who says that this is the case? Bar Kamtza said to him: Go and test
them; send them an offering to be brought in honor of the government,
and see whether they will sacrifice it.
[As the account
goes, he has the Emperor send a calf for sacrifice, but Bar Kamtza sees to it
that the calf has a cut that blemishes it and makes it unfit for sacrifice. The
sages in the Temple realize that it was
a set up by Bar Kamtza, who would then report it to the Emperor. They
are tempted to kill Bar Kamtza, but one sage prevails, out of fear of the
[Here is where the
militants made it worse:]
הֲווֹ בְּהוּ הָנְהוּ
בִּרְיוֹנֵי, אֲמַרוּ לְהוּ רַבָּנַן: נִיפּוֹק וְנַעֲבֵיד שְׁלָמָא בַּהֲדַיְיהוּ.
לָא שַׁבְקִינְהוּ. אֲמַרוּ לְהוּ: נִיפּוֹק וְנַעֲבֵיד קְרָבָא בַּהֲדַיְיהוּ,
אֲמַרוּ לְהוּ רַבָּנַן: לָא מִסְתַּיְּיעָא מִילְּתָא. קָמוּ קְלֹנְהוּ לְהָנְהוּ
אַמְבָּרֵי דְּחִיטֵּי וּשְׂעָרֵי, וַהֲוָה כַּפְנָא.
There were certain
zealots among the people of Jerusalem. The Sages said to them: Let us go out and
make peace with the Romans. But the zealots did not allow them to do
this. The zealots said to the Sages: Let us go out and engage in
battle against the Romans. But the Sages said to them: You will not be
successful. It would be better for you to wait until the siege is broken.
In order to force the residents of the city to engage in battle, the zealots arose
and burned down these storehouses [ambarei] of wheat and barley,
and there was a general famine.
אַבָּא סִקְרָא –
רֵישׁ בִּרְיוֹנֵי דִּירוּשָׁלַיִם, בַּר אֲחָתֵיהּ דְּרַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן
זַכַּאי הֲוָה. שְׁלַח לֵיהּ: תָּא בְּצִינְעָא לְגַבַּאי. אֲתָא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ:
עַד אֵימַת עָבְדִיתוּ הָכִי, וְקָטְלִיתוּ לֵיהּ לְעָלְמָא בְּכַפְנָא? אֲמַר
לֵיהּ: מַאי אֶיעֱבֵיד, דְּאִי אָמֵינָא לְהוּ מִידֵּי קָטְלוּ לִי! אֲמַר לֵיהּ:
חֲזִי לִי תַּקַּנְתָּא לְדִידִי דְּאֶיפּוֹק, אֶפְשָׁר דְּהָוֵי הַצָּלָה
[How did we then survive the greatest devastation possible, the
loss of the Temple?
It would seem that
even among the zealots, there were those who realized that their would be no
§ The Gemara
relates: Abba Sikkara [ The head of Sicarii] was the leader of the zealots [biryonei]
of Jerusalem and the son of the sister of Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai.
Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai sent a message to him: Come to me in
secret. He came, and Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Until when
will you do this and kill everyone through starvation? Abba Sikkara said
to him: What can I do, for if I say something to them they will kill me.
Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Show me a method so that I
will be able to leave the city, and it is possible that
through this there will be some small salvation.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: נְקוֹט
נַפְשָׁךְ בִּקְצִירֵי, וְלֵיתוֹ כּוּלֵּי עָלְמָא וְלִישַׁיְּילוּ בָּךְ,
וְאַיְיתִי מִידֵּי סַרְיָא וְאַגְנִי גַּבָּךְ, וְלֵימְרוּ דְּנָח נַפְשָׁךְ.
וְלִיעַיְּילוּ בָּךְ תַּלְמִידָךְ וְלָא לֵיעוּל בָּךְ אִינִישׁ אַחֲרִינָא,
דְּלָא לַרְגְּשׁוּן בָּךְ דְּקַלִּיל אַתְּ, דְּאִינְהוּ יָדְעִי דְּחַיָּיא
Abba Sikkara said
to him: This is what you should do: Pretend to be sick, and have
everyone come and ask about your welfare, so that word will spread about
your ailing condition. Afterward bring something putrid and place it near
you, so that people will say that you have died and are decomposing.
And then, have your students enter to bring you to burial, and
let no one else come in so that the zealots not notice that you are
still light. As the zealots know that a living person is
lighter than a dead person.
נִכְנַס בּוֹ רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר מִצַּד אֶחָד, וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מִצַּד אַחֵר.
כִּי מְטוֹ לְפִיתְחָא, בְּעוֹ לְמִדְקְרֵיהּ. אֲמַר לְהוּ: יֹאמְרוּ: רַבָּן דָּקְרוּ!
בְּעוֹ לְמִדְחֲפֵיהּ. אֲמַר לְהוּ: יֹאמְרוּ: רַבָּן דָּחֲפוּ! פְּתַחוּ לֵיהּ
Rabban Yoḥanan ben
Zakkai did this. Rabbi Eliezer entered from one side and Rabbi Yehoshua from
the other side to take him out. When they arrived at the entrance of
the city on the inside, the guards, who were of the faction of the zealots, wanted
to pierce him with their swords in order to ascertain that he was actually
dead, as was the common practice. Abba Sikkara said to them: The Romans will
say that they pierce even their teacher. The guards then wanted
at least to push him to see whether he was still alive, in which case he
would cry out on account of the pushing. Abba Sikkara said to them: They
will say that they push even their teacher. The guards then opened
the gate and he was taken out.
כִּי מְטָא לְהָתָם,
אֲמַר: שְׁלָמָא עֲלָךְ מַלְכָּא, שְׁלָמָא עֲלָךְ מַלְכָּא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ:
מִיחַיְּיבַתְּ תְּרֵי (קְטָלָא) [קָטְלִי], חֲדָא דְּלָאו מַלְכָּא אֲנָא וְקָא
קָרֵית לִי מַלְכָּא, וְתוּ אִי מַלְכָּא אֲנָא עַד הָאִידָּנָא אַמַּאי לָא
אָתֵית לְגַבַּאי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: דְּקָאָמְרַתְּ לָאו מַלְכָּא אֲנָא,
When Rabban Yoḥanan ben
Zakkai reached there, i.e., the Roman camp, he said: Greetings to
you, the king; greetings to you, the king. Vespasian said to him: You
are liable for two death penalties, one because I am not a king and
yet you call me king, and furthermore, if I am a king, why didn’t you come
to me until now? Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: As for what
you said about yourself: I am not a king,
אַתְּ; דְּאִי לָאו מַלְכָּא אַתְּ לָא מִימַּסְרָא יְרוּשָׁלַיִם בִּידָךְ,
דִּכְתִיב: ״וְהַלְּבָנוֹן בְּאַדִּיר יִפּוֹל״ – וְאֵין ״אַדִּיר״ אֶלָּא מֶלֶךְ,
דִּכְתִיב: ״וְהָיָה אַדִּירוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְגוֹ׳״; וְאֵין ״לְבָנוֹן״ אֶלָּא בֵּית
הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הָהָר הַטּוֹב הַזֶּה וְהַלְּבָנוֹן״.
וּדְקָאָמְרַתְּ: אִי מַלְכָּא אֲנָא, אַמַּאי לָא קָאָתֵית לְגַבַּאי עַד
הָאִידָּנָא – בִּרְיוֹנֵי דְּאִית בַּן לָא שָׁבְקִינַן.
in truth, you are a
king, if not now, then in the future. As if you are not a king, Jerusalem
will not be handed over into your hand, as it is written: “And the Lebanon
shall fall by a mighty one” (Isaiah 10:34). And “mighty one” means only
a king, as it is written: “And their mighty one shall be of themselves, and
their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them” (Jeremiah 30:21), indicating
that “mighty one” parallels “ruler.” And “Lebanon” means only the
Temple, as it is stated: “That good mountain and the Lebanon” (Deuteronomy
3:25). And as for what you said with your second comment: If I
am a king why didn’t you come to me until now, there are zealots among us
who did not allow us to do this.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אִילּוּ
חָבִית שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ וּדְרָקוֹן כָּרוּךְ עָלֶיהָ, לֹא הָיוּ שׁוֹבְרִין אֶת
הֶחָבִית בִּשְׁבִיל דְּרָקוֹן? אִישְׁתִּיק. קָרֵי עֲלֵיהּ רַב יוֹסֵף,
וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: ״מֵשִׁיב חֲכָמִים אָחוֹר וְדַעְתָּם יְסַכֵּל״,
אִיבְּעִי לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר לֵיהּ: שָׁקְלִינַן צְבָתָא וְשָׁקְלִינַן לֵיהּ
לִדְרָקוֹן וְקָטְלִינַן לֵיהּ, וְחָבִיתָא שָׁבְקִינַן לַהּ.
Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai was prepared to ask him not to destroy the Temple,
Vespasian said to him: If there is a barrel of honey and a snake [derakon]
is wrapped around it, wouldn’t they break the barrel in order to kill the
snake? In similar fashion, I am forced to destroy the city of Jerusalem in
order to kill the zealots barricaded within it. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai was
silent and did not answer. In light of this, Rav Yosef later read
the following verse about him, and some say that it was Rabbi Akiva
who applied the verse to Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai: “I am the Lord…Who turns
wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:25). As
Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai should have said the following to
Vespasian in response: In such a case, we take tongs, remove the snake, and
kill it, and in this way we leave the barrel intact. So too, you
should kill the rebels and leave the city as it is.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ: מֵיזָל
אָזֵילְנָא, וְאִינָשׁ אַחֲרִינָא מְשַׁדַּרְנָא; אֶלָּא בָּעֵי מִינַּאי מִידֵּי
דְּאֶתֵּן לָךְ. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: תֵּן לִי יַבְנֶה וַחֲכָמֶיהָ, וְשׁוּשִׁילְתָּא
דְּרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, וְאָסְווֹתָא דְּמַסַּיִין לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי צָדוֹק. קָרֵי
עֲלֵיהּ רַב יוֹסֵף, וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: ״מֵשִׁיב חֲכָמִים אָחוֹר
וְדַעְתָּם יְסַכֵּל״, אִיבְּעִי לְמֵימַר לֵיהּ: לִשְׁבְּקִינְהוּ הָדָא
Vespasian then said
to Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai: I will be going to Rome to accept my
new position, and I will send someone else in my place to continue
besieging the city and waging war against it. But before I leave, ask
something of me that I can give you. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said
to him: Give me Yavne and its Sages and do not destroy it, and spare
the dynasty of Rabban Gamliel and do not kill them as if they were
rebels, and lastly give me doctors to heal Rabbi Tzadok.
[At Yavenh, Rabbi
Yochanan and his students instituted major enactments that kept the Jewish
people together. Finalization of the accepted Books of the Bibke, the
formalization of the Amidah prayer replacing sacrifice with a structure that
would unify Jews around the world.]
We are concerned
about Israel, in which one side can not speak a good word to the other side, in
which top air force reserve pilots refuse to show up for reserves duty.
We are concerned for
a US in which people can not speak a good word to each other without getting
into a political bind.
I know, from my own
sad experience of this congregations history, when board members uttered curses
against each other, and all that I had started to do, in bringing life back
into the community 30 years ago, popped like a balloon that has been stuck by
I pray that wisdom
and patience prevail!