Hillel the Elder
Hillel was a Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Talmud. Renowned within Judaism as a sage and scholar, he was the founder of the House of Hillel school for Tannaïm and the founder of a dynasty of Sages who stood at the head of the Jews living in the Land of Israel until the fifth century, he is popularly known as the author of two sayings: "If I am not for myself, for me? And being for my own self, what am'I'? And if not now, when?" and the expression of the ethic of reciprocity, or "Golden Rule": "That, hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah. Hillel was born in Babylon. According to the Iggeret of Rav Sherira Gaon, Hillel descended from the Tribe of Benjamin on his father's side, from the family of David on his mother's side; when Josephus speaks of Hillel's great-grandson, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I, as belonging to a celebrated family, he refers to the glory the family owed to the activity of Hillel and Rabban Gamliel Hazaken.
Only Hillel's brother Shebna is mentioned. Hillel lived in Jerusalem during the time of the Roman emperor Augustus. In the Midrash compilation Sifre, the periods of Hillel's life are made parallel to those in the life of Moses. Both lived 120 years, at the age of forty Hillel went to the Land of Israel. A biographical sketch can be constructed, his activity of forty years covered the period of 30 BCE to 10 CE. According to the Mishnah, Hillel went to Jerusalem with the intention of studying biblical exposition and tradition at the age of 40 in 70 BCE; the difficulties Hillel had to overcome to gain admittance to the school of Sh'maya and Abtalion, the hardships he suffered while pursuing his aim, are told in the Talmud, the ultimate purpose of, to show that poverty cannot be considered an obstacle to the study of Torah. Some time Hillel succeeded in settling a question concerning the sacrificial ritual in a manner that showed his superiority over the Bnei Bathyra, who were at that time the heads of the Sanhedrin.
On that occasion, it is narrated, they voluntarily resigned their position as Nasi in favor of Hillel. After the resignation of the Benei Betheira, Hillel was recognized as the highest authority among the Pharisees. Hillel was the head of the great school, at first associated with Menahem the Essene, who might be the same Menahem the Essene as the one mentioned by Flavius Josephus in relation to King Herod, afterward with Shammai, Hillel's peer in the teaching of Jewish Law. Whatever Hillel's position, his authority was sufficient to introduce those decrees handed down in his name; the most famous of his enactments was the Prozbul, an institution that, in spite of the law concerning cancellation of debts in the Sabbatical year ensured the repayment of loans. The motive for this institution was the "repair of the world", i.e. of the social order, because this legal innovation protected both the creditor against the loss of his property, the needy against being refused the loan of money for fear of loss.
A tendency is found in another of Hillel's institutions, having reference to the sale of houses. These two are the only institutions handed down in Hillel's name, although the words that introduce the prozbul show that there were others. Hillel's judicial activity may be inferred from the decision by which he confirmed the legitimacy of some Alexandrians whose origin was disputed, by interpreting the marriage document of their mother in her favour. Of other official acts no mention is found in the sources; some of Hillel the Elder's teachings remain known. However, at least two other notable Hillels came after him, some scholars have suggested that some sayings attributed to "Hillel" may have originated from them; the saying of Hillel that introduces the collection of his maxims in the Mishnaic treatise Pirkei Avoth mentions Aaron HaKohen as the great model to be imitated in his love of peace, in his love for his fellow man, in his leading mankind to a knowledge of the Law. In mentioning these characteristics, which the Haggadah attributes to Moses' brother, Hillel stated his own prominent virtues.
He considered "love of his fellow man" the kernel of Jewish teaching. The comparative response to the challenge of a Gentile who asked that the Torah be explained to him while he stood on one foot, illustrates the character differences between Shammai and Hillel. Shammai dismissed the man. Hillel accepted the question but chastised the man:What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah. Hillel's gentleness and patience are illustrated in an an
Jonathan ben Uzziel
Jonathan ben Uzziel was one of the 80 tannaim who studied under Hillel the Elder during the time of Roman-ruled Judea. He is the author of a book of kabbalah known as Megadnim. Jonathan ben Uzziel is mentioned several times in the Talmud. According to tradition, the tomb of ben Uzziel is located in Galilee near Safed, Israel. According to Zev Vilnai, Rabbi Shmuel ben Shimshon wrote about the tomb in 1210: "There is a large tree next to it, the Ishmaelites bring oil and light a candle in his honor and make vows in his honor." An illustration of Yonatan ben Uzziel's tomb appears in "Ancestry of fathers and prophets", a book printed in 1537. It is customary to visit ben Uzziel's tomb on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the lunar month, on 26 Sivan, although visitors arrive all year round. A practice that began in the 17th century was to pray at the gravesite for a good marriage partner, for children, satisfaction from one's children, a good livelihood and happiness. Many unmarried men and women pray there for a match.
Doing so is considered a segula for finding one’s mate within the coming year. Zev Vilnai offers two theories for this custom: The practice developed from the Pseudo-Jonathan translation of the Bible on Deuteronomy 24:6, where he writes that anyone who prevents the connection between a husband and wife forfeits his portion in the world-to-come, and it is deeper and worse than Gehinnom." The words "and it is deeper" are the headwords to Rashi's next comment, do not relate to his preceding comment about men going to Harpania to look for women. However, the mistaken reading connects Rashi's words to the community named Amuka, it is widely believed that Jonathan ben Uzziel was single or childless, so men in similar situations seek to benefit from his special powers, but nowhere in the writings of Chazal is this stated. Jewish encyclopedia Orthodox Union - Great Leaders Yonatan ben Uziel יונתן בן עוזיאל Heaven's Register Photographs of Yonatan ben Uziel's Tomb - Third Temple
Gamaliel the Elder, or Rabban Gamaliel I, was a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the early first century CE. He was grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder. Gamaliel is thought to have died in 52 CE, he fathered Simeon ben Gamliel, named for his father, a daughter, who married a priest named Simon ben Nathanael. In the Christian tradition, Gamaliel is recognized as a Pharisee doctor of Jewish Law. Acts of the Apostles, 5 speaks of Gamaliel as a man, held in great esteem by all Jews, who spoke to not condemn the apostles of Jesus in Acts 5:34 to death, as the Jewish law teacher of Paul the Apostle in Acts 22:3. In the Talmud, Gamaliel is described as bearing the titles Nasi "prince" and Rabban "our master", as the president of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Gamaliel holds a reputation in the Mishnah for being one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism: "Since Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, there has been no more reverence for the law, purity and piety died out at the same time".
Gamaliel's authority on questions of religious law is suggested by two Mishnaic anecdotes in which "the king and queen" ask for his advice about rituals. The identity of the king and queen in question is not given, but is thought to either be Herod Agrippa and his wife Cypros the Nabataean, or Herod Agrippa II and his sister Berenice; as rabbinic literature always contrasts the school of Hillel the Elder to that of Shammai and only presents the collective opinions of each of these opposing schools of thought without mentioning the individual nuances and opinions of the rabbis within them, these texts do not portray Gamaliel as being knowledgeable about the Jewish scriptures, nor do they portray him as a teacher. For this reason, Gamaliel is not listed as part of the chain of individuals who perpetuated the Mishnaic tradition. Instead the chain is listed as passing directly from Hillel to Yohanan ben Zakkai; the Mishnah mentions Gamaliel's authorship of a few legal ordinances on the subjects of community welfare and conjugal rights.
He argued that the law should protect women during divorce, that, for the purpose of remarriage, a single witness was sufficient evidence for the death of a husband. Various pieces of classical rabbinic literature additionally mention that Gamaliel sent out three epistles, designed as notifications of new religious rulings, which portray Gamaliel as the head of the Jewish body for religious law. Two of these three were sent to the inhabitants of Galilee and "the Darom", were on the subject of the first tithe; the third epistle was sent to the Jews of the diaspora, argued for the introduction of an intercalary month. Since the Hillel school of thought is presented collectively, there are few other teachings which are identifiable as Gamaliel's. There is only a somewhat cryptic dictum, comparing his students to classes of fish: A ritually impure fish: one who has memorised everything by study, but has no understanding, is the son of poor parents A ritually pure fish: one who has learnt and understood everything, is the son of rich parents A fish from the Jordan River: one who has learnt everything, but doesn't know how to respond A fish from the Mediterranean Sea: one who has learnt everything, knows how to respondIn some manuscripts of Dunash ibn Tamim's tenth-century Hebrew commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, the author identifies Gamaliel with the physician Galen.
He claims to have seen an Arabic medical work translated from Hebrew entitled The Book of Gamaliel the Prince, called Galenos among the Greeks. However, since Galen lived in the second century and Gamaliel died during the mid-first century, this is unlikely. Provide yourself with a rabbi, eschew doubtful matters, tithe not overmuch by guesswork; the Acts of the Apostles introduces Gamaliel as a Pharisee and celebrated doctor of the Mosaic Law in Acts 5:34–40. In the larger context and the other apostles are described as being prosecuted before the Sanhedrin for continuing to preach the gospel despite the Jewish authorities having prohibited it; the passage describes Gamaliel as presenting an argument against killing the apostles, reminding them about the previous revolts of Theudas and Judas of Galilee, which had collapsed after the deaths of those individuals. Gamaliel's advice was accepted after his concluding argument: "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.
—Acts 5:38–39The Book of Acts goes on to describe Paul the Apostle recounting that although "born in Tarsus", he was brought up in Jerusalem "at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers". No details are given about which teachings Paul adopted from Gamaliel, as it is assumed that as a Pharisee, Paul was recognized in the community at that time as a devout Jew. How much Gamaliel influenced aspects of Christianity is unmentioned. However, there is no other record of Gamaliel having taught in public, but the Talmud does describe Gamaliel as teaching a student who displayed "impudence in learning", which a few scholars identify as a possible reference to Paul; the relationship of Paul the Apostle and Judaism continues to be the subject of scholarly debate. Helmut Koester, Professor of Divinity and of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These successive temples stood at this location and functioned as a site of ancient Israelite and Jewish worship, it is called the Holy Temple. The Hebrew name given in the Hebrew Bible for the building complex is either Beit YHWH, Beit HaElohim "House of God", or Beiti "my house", Beitekhah "your house" etc. In rabbinical literature the temple is Beit HaMikdash, "The Sanctified House", only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name; the Hebrew Bible says. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, as the sole place of Israelite sacrifice, the Temple replaced the Tabernacle constructed in the Sinai Desert under the auspices of Moses, as well as local sanctuaries, altars in the hills; this temple was sacked a few decades by Shoshenq I, Pharaoh of Egypt. Although efforts were made at partial reconstruction, it was only in 835 BCE when Jehoash, King of Judah, in the second year of his reign invested considerable sums in reconstruction, only to have it stripped again for Sennacherib, King of Assyria c. 700 BCE.
The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, when they sacked the city. According to the Book of Ezra, construction of the Second Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BCE, after the fall of the Babylonian Empire the year before, it was completed 23 years on the third day of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the Great, dedicated by the Jewish governor Zerubbabel. However, with a full reading of the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah, there were four edicts to build the Second Temple, which were issued by three kings. Cyrus in 536 BCE, recorded in the first chapter of Ezra. Next, Darius I of Persia in 519 BCE, recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra. Third, Artaxerxes I of Persia in 457 BCE, the seventh year of his reign, is recorded in the seventh chapter of Ezra. By Artaxerxes again in 444 BCE in the second chapter of Nehemiah. Despite the fact that the new temple was not as extravagant or imposing as its predecessor, it still dominated the Jerusalem skyline and remained an important structure throughout the time of Persian suzerainty.
Moreover, the temple narrowly avoided being destroyed again in 332 BCE when the Jews refused to acknowledge the deification of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Alexander was "turned from his anger" at the last minute by astute diplomacy and flattery. Further, after the death of Alexander on 13 June 323 BCE, the dismembering of his empire, the Ptolemies came to rule over Judea and the Temple. Under the Ptolemies, the Jews lived content under their rule. However, when the Ptolemaic army was defeated at Panium by Antiochus III of the Seleucids in 198 BCE, this policy changed. Antiochus wanted attempting to introduce the Greek pantheon into the temple. Moreover, a rebellion ensued and was brutally crushed, but no further action by Antiochus was taken, when Antiochus died in 187 BCE at Luristan, his son Seleucus IV Philopator succeeded him. However, his policies never took effect in Judea, since he was assassinated the year after his ascension. Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeded his older brother to the Seleucid throne and adopted his father's previous policy of universal Hellenisation.
The Jews Antiochus, in a rage, retaliated in force. Considering the previous episodes of discontent, the Jews became incensed when the religious observances of Sabbath and circumcision were outlawed; when Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus in their temple and Hellenic priests began sacrificing pigs, their anger began to spiral. When a Greek official ordered a Jewish priest to perform a Hellenic sacrifice, the priest killed him. In 167 BCE, the Jews rose up en masse behind Mattathias and his five sons to fight and win their freedom from Seleucid authority. Mattathias' son Judah Maccabee, now called "The Hammer", re-dedicated the temple in 165 BCE and the Jews celebrate this event to this day as a major part of the festival of Hanukkah; the temple was rededicated under Judah Maccabee in 164 BCE. During the Roman era, Pompey left the Temple intact. In 54 BCE, Crassus looted the Temple treasury, only for him to die the year after at the Battle of Carrhae against Parthia. According to folklore he was executed by having molten gold poured down his throat.
When news of this reached the Jews, they revolted again, only to be put down in 43 BCE. Around 20 BCE, the building was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great, became known as Herod's Temple, it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem. During the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132–135 CE, Simon bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva wanted to rebuild the Temple, but bar Kokhba's revolt failed and the Jews were banned from Jerusalem by the Roman Empire; the emperor Julian allowed to have the Temple rebuilt but the Galilee earthquake of 363 ended all attempts since. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ordered the construction of an Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount; the shrine has stood on the mount since 691 CE.
Eliezer ben Hurcanus
Eliezer ben Hurcanus, variant spelling, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, was a kohen, one of the most prominent Sages of the 1st and 2nd centuries in Judea, disciple of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and colleague of Gamaliel II, whose sister he married, of Joshua ben Hananiah. He is the sixth most mentioned sage in the Mishnah, his earlier years are wrapped in myths, but from these it may be inferred that he was somewhat advanced in life when a desire for learning first seized him, impelled him, contrary to the wishes of his father, to desert his regular occupation and to depart to Jerusalem to devote himself to the study of the Torah. Here he entered Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai's academy and for years studied diligently, notwithstanding the fact that he had to cope with great privations, it is said. Ben-Zakkai, recognizing Eliezer's receptive and retentive mind, styled him "a cemented cistern that loses not a drop"; these endowments were so pronounced in him that in years he could declare, "I have never taught anything which I had not learned from my masters".
His father in the meantime determined to disinherit him, with that purpose in view went to Jerusalem, there to declare his will before Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. The great teacher, having heard of Hyrcanus' arrival and of the object of his visit, instructed the usher to reserve for the expected visitor a seat among those to be occupied by the elite of the city, appointed Eliezer lecturer for that day. At first the latter hesitated to venture on Ben-Zakkai's place, pressed by the master and encouraged by his friends, delivered a discourse displaying wonderful knowledge. Hyrcanus having recognized in the lecturer his truant son, hearing the encomiums which Ben-Zakkai showered on him, now desired to transfer all his earthly possessions to Eliezer, but the scholar, overjoyed at the reconciliation, declined to take advantage of his brothers, requested to be allowed to have only his proportionate share, he continued his attendance at Ben-Zakkai's college until near the close of the siege of Jerusalem, when he and Joshua assisted in smuggling their master out of the city and into the Roman camp.
Subsequently, Eliezer proceeded to Yavne, where he became a member of the Sanhedrin under the presidency of Gamaliel II, though he had established, for many years afterward conducted, his own academy at Lydda. His fame as a great scholar had in the meantime spread, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai himself declaring that Eliezer was unequaled as an expositor of traditional law. Eliezer became known as "Eliezer ha-Gadol", with reference to his legal acumen and judicial impartiality, the Scriptural saying "That, altogether just shalt thou follow," was thus explained: "Seek a reliable court: go after R. Eliezer to Lydda, or after Yohanan ben Zakkai to Beror Hel," etc. Once he accompanied Joshua on an embassy to Rome. Rabbi Eliezer was severe and somewhat domineering with his pupils and colleagues, a characteristic which led to unpleasant encounters; the main feature of his teaching was a strict devotion to tradition: he objected to allowing the Midrash or the paraphrastic interpretation to pass as authority for religious practice.
In this respect he sympathized with the conservative school of Shammai, opposed to giving too much scope to the interpretation. Hence the assertion that he was a disciple of the School of Shammai, though he was a disciple of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, one of Hillel the Elder's most prominent pupils. Eliezer's conservatism brought him into conflict with his colleagues and contemporaries, who realized that such conservatism must be fatal to a proper development of the oral law, it was felt that the new circumstances, such as the destruction of the Temple and the disappearance of the national independence, required a strong religious central authority, to which individual opinion must yield. At last the rupture came; the Sanhedrin deliberated on the susceptibility to Levitical uncleanness of an akhnai-oven. The majority decided that such an oven was capable of becoming unclean; as he thus acted in direct opposition to the decision of the majority, it was deemed necessary to make an example of him, he was excommunicated.
Rabbi Akiva, dressed in mourning, appeared before him and, seated at some distance from him, respectfully addressed him with "My master, it appears to me that thy colleagues keep aloof from thee." Eliezer took in the situation and submitted to the sentence. According to the Talmud, because Akiva broke the news Eliezer annihilated no more than one-third of crops worldwide and burned only those things that were within his field of view. Thenceforth Eliezer lived in retirement, removed from the center of Jewish learning, though some of his disciples visited him and informed him of the transactions of the Sanhedrin. Rabbi Judah the Prince, chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah, ruled that halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Eliezer but felt that, due to his unpopularity, he could only relay over Rabbi Eliezer's rulings in the name of the sages. Eliezer was charged for being a heretic, was summoned before the penal tribunal. Being asked by the Roman governor, "Ho
Rabban Gamaliel II was the first person to lead the Sanhedrin as Nasi after the fall of the second temple in 70 CE. Gamliel was appointed nasi 10 years later. Gamaliel II was the son of Shimon ben Gamaliel, one of Jerusalem's foremost men in the war against the Romans, grandson of Gamaliel I. To distinguish him from the latter he is called Gamliel of Yavne. Rabban Gamliel II seemed to have settled in Kefar'Othnai in Lower Galilee, but with the outbreak of the war with Rome, he fled to Jerusalem. From there, he moved to Yavne. In Yavne, during the siege of Jerusalem, the scribes of the school of Hillel had taken refuge by permission of Vespasian, a new centre of Judaism arose under the leadership of the aged Johanan ben Zakkai, a school whose members inherited the authority of the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem. Gamaliel II became Johanan ben Zakkai's successor, rendered immense service in the strengthening and reintegration of Judaism, deprived of its former basis by the destruction of the Second Temple and by the entire loss of its political autonomy.
He put an end to the division which had arisen between the spiritual leaders of Judaism by the separation of the scribes into the two schools called after Hillel and Shammai, took care to enforce his own authority as the president of the chief legal assembly of Judaism with energy and with severity. He did this, as he himself said, not for his own honor nor for that of his family, but in order that disunion should not prevail in Israel. Gamaliel's position was recognized by the Roman government and he journeyed to Syria for the purpose of being confirmed in office by the governor. Towards the end of Domitian's reign, he went to Rome in company with the most prominent members of the school of Javneh, in order to avert a danger threatening the Jews from the action of the emperor. Many interesting particulars have been given regarding the journey of these learned men to Rome and their sojourn there; the impression made by the capital of the world upon Gamaliel and his companions was an overpowering one, they wept when they thought of Jerusalem in ruins.
In Rome, as at home, Gamaliel had occasion to defend Judaism in polemical discussions with pagans, with professed Christians. He may have been the first to receive the title "nasi", given to raise him in public estimation and to revive the Biblical designation for the head of the nation; this title became hereditary with his descendants. Gamaliel was a controversial leader. In a dispute about fixing the calendar, Rabban Gamaliel humiliated Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah by asking him to show up with his "stick and satchel" on the holy day which according to Rabbi Joshua's calculation was Yom Kippur. On, another dispute broke out regarding the status of the nightly prayer, he humiliated him again by asking him to stand up, to remain standing while teaching his students; this incident shocked the Rabbis, subsequently is said to have led to a rabbinic revolt against Gamaliel's leadership of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin installed Rabbi Eleazar Ben Azariah as the new Nasi. After reconciling with Rabbi Joshua, Rabban Gamaliel was reinstated as Nasi, with Rabbi Eleazar serving along with him in a rotation every third week.
According to the version recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Eleazar served as Av Beit Din, a viceregent. Gamaliel, showed that with him it was only a question of principle, that he had no intention of humiliating Joshua, he was implicated in the'excommunication' of his own brother-in-law, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. His goal was to strengthen the authority of the assembly at Jabneh as well as his own authority, thus brought upon himself the suspicion of seeking his own glory. However, Gamaliel describes his motivations in this episode as in the following prayer: "Lord of the world, it is manifest and known to Thee that I have not done it for my own honor nor for that of my house, but for Thy honor, that factions may not increase in Israel." A story which confirms Gamaliel's claim to modesty is told, in which he, served his guests himself at a feast. Gamaliel's greatest achievement was ending of the opposition between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, which had survived the destruction of the Temple.
According to tradition, a voice from heaven was heard in Yavneh, declaring that although the views of both schools were justifiable in principle, in practice the views of Hillel's school are authoritative. Many of Gamaliel's decisions in religious law are connected with his stay in some place in the Holy Land. In Ecdippa the archisynagogue Scipio asked him a question which he answered by letter after his return home. There are records of Gamaliel's stay in Kfar Uthnai, in Emmaus, in Lod, in Jericho in Samaria, in Tiberias, he was on friendly terms with many non-Jews, was so warmly devoted to his slave Tavi that when Tavi died he mourned for him as for a beloved member of his own family. A friendly conversation is recorded. On the Sabbath he sat upon the benches of heathen merchants. Still and his sister, Ima Shalom, chided with the growing local Christian population mocking a certain gentile judge who had adjudicated in an inheritance case, in which Ima Shalom had made herself the make-believe claimant in the case.
When the judge at first ruled in favor of the woman, after being given a bribe by Rabban Gamaliel, he rescind