web analytics
August 23, 2014 / 27 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
At a Glance
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event

Q & A: ‘The Scepter Shall Not Depart From Judah’ – Redux (Part II)


Editor’s note: From 5-17-13 to 6-21-13 we answered an e-mail from Menachem who had asked whether Rabbi Yehudah the Prince purposely omitted any mention of the Hasmonean kings from the Mishnah. Menachem had heard that Rabbi Yehudah, as a descendant of King David, perhaps omitted them to indicate that they had improperly crowned themselves, ignoring the Biblical rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. The following query challenges the very basis of Menachem’s question.

Question: The famous Iggeret of Rav Sherira Gaon references Yerushalmi Kilaim 9:3 and Kesubos 12:3 and states that Rabbi Judah the Prince descended from Hillel who, in turn, descended from the tribe of Binyamin – not Yehudah. The Iggeret also discusses how the Mishnah was written and how Rabbi Judah worked on it. Had Menachem read this Iggeret by Rav Sherira Gaon – who, incidentally, was a direct descendant of King David – I don’t think he would have asked his question.

Yehuda T.
(Via E-Mail)

Summary of our response up to this point: Last week we looked at Ketubot 62b, where we learned that Rabbi Yehudah the Prince investigated his family’s genealogy and determined that they descended from King David’s son Shephatiah b. Abital. The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anit 4:2) states that a genealogical scroll was found that proclaimed that Hillel also descended from King David. The Etz Yosef explains that the nessi’im – the princes of Israel – descend from Hillel. Genesis 49:10 refers to the princes when it says: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah.” Finally, Rashi on Tractate Avot (1:16-2:2) recounts the genealogy of Rabban Gamliel, the son of Hillel, showing that he is a forefather of Rabbi Yehudah the Prince.

* * * * *

In his Iggeret, Rav Sherira Gaon notes as follows: “When Ezra, Zerubabel and the exiles went up from Babylonia [to the land of Israel] and [re]built the Temple, they found that there were heads of the Sanhedrin, such as Shimon the righteous, Antignos of Socho, and the rest of those pairs, most of whom went up from Babylonia. Hillel the Elder went up with them from Babylonia. Even so, they [in Babylonia] spread the teaching of the Torah here [to the exiles in Babylonia] and they had [as their leaders] the Exilarchs who were from the house of David. However, heads of the academies and Sanhedrin were not among them, because that could only be from the place [Jerusalem] that G-d chose (Deuteronomy 17:10).

“Until the passing of Rabbi [Yehudah the Prince], the Exilarchs ruled [over the exiles] in Babylonia, but not [over] the heads of the academies and the Princes who were the heads of the Sanhedrin in the land of Israel. They were as enumerated in Avot (chapters 1-2) up to the time of Hillel and Shamai, following Hillel was his son Shimon, following him was his son Rabban Gamliel the Elder, followed by his son Rabbi Shimon b. Gamliel [who served] before he was killed prior to the destruction of the Temple. And Rabbi Yishmael b. Elisha was the High Priest. These four generations are included in the one-hundred-year [period] that is mentioned in [chapter] Yetziot HaShabbat (Shabbos 15a) [which states] that Hillel, Shimon, Gamliel, and Shimon held the position of prince prior to the destruction of the Temple for 100 years.

“After Rabbi Shimon b. Gamliel was executed with the others [i.e., the harugei malchut, the 10 martyrs executed by the Roman authorities] Rabban Yochanan b. Zakai [served as leader even though he was not a descendent of the house of Hillel], who was in the period of the Temple’s destruction, after having escaped the city [Jerusalem, which was controlled by the baryonim (rebels) via subterfuge. Aided by his two students R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua, he] came before the Caeser Aspasinus [who offered to grant him one request]. He asked: Give me the city of Yavneh and its scholars and the dynasty of Rabban Gamliel. [His intention was the restoration of the Princely rule to Hillel’s house (Gittin 56b).] Once Rabban Yochanan b. Zakai and the sages were settled in Yavneh they instituted 10 enactments, as it says (Rosh Hashana 29-31): ‘When the Temple was destroyed, Rabban Yochanan b. Zakai enacted…’

“After him [i.e., after Rabban Yochanan b. Zakai’s passing], Rabban Gamliel son of Rabbi Shimon b. Gamliel [the elder] who was executed [with the 10 martyrs – this Rabban Gamliel was his son] served as the Prince in Yavneh and R. Yehoshua served as av beit din. It happened that Rabban Gamliel humiliated R. Yehoshua on three different occasions; [thus] he was removed as prince and R. Elezer b. Azaryah, who was rich, was placed in his stead. R. Elezer was also a tenth generation from Ezra the Scribe. [One of the official functions of the Prince was to deliver the lecture in the academy every Sabbath, and as a result of his removal, Rabban Gamliel no longer would deliver that lecture.] Afterward they [sought to appease him and] restored Rabban Gamliel to his position, but they did not remove R. Elezer b. Azaryah; thus [they established a compromise:] Rabban Gamliel would lecture for two [consecutive] Sabbaths and R. Elezer b. Azaryah would lecture for one Sabbath, as the Gemara in perek Tefillat HaShachar (Berachot 28a) explains.”

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: ‘The Scepter Shall Not Depart From Judah’ – Redux (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
4 yr old Israeli Daniel Tregerman, murdered by Hamas rocket on Aug. 22, 2014.
IDF: Israeli Toddler Murdered by Rocket Fired Near UNRWA School/Shelter
Latest Judaism Stories

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.


Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?


Hashem recalls everything – nothing is hidden from His eyes.


According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

An interview was overheard in which an Arab asked a Hamas commander: “What’s the problem? Why aren’t you hitting your targets? Don’t you know how to aim?” To which he was answered: “We know how to aim very well. We are experts. But their G-d moves the missiles.”

‘Vendors Of Fruits And Clothing…May Sell In Private’
(Mo’ed Katan 13b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Via Email

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The first prayer of Moshe was Vayechal, where Moshe’s petition was that no matter how bad bnei Yisrael were, the Egyptians were worse.

“We’re leining now, and shouldn’t be talking,” Mr. Silver gently quieted his son. “At the Shabbos table we can discuss it at length.”

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

Culture is not nature. There are causes in nature, but only in culture are there meanings.

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

We give slave gifts? If he wants to stay, we pierce his ear?!

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Via Email

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Via Email

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

(Via E-Mail)

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-scepter-shall-not-depart-from-judah-redux-part-ii/2013/08/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: