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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Rabi Yehudah And Antoninus


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Rabi Yehudah Hanasi (the prince) known as Rebbe had an amazingly warm friendship with the Roman Caesar, Antoni­nus. The friendship began at the birth of the two men and continued until their dying days.

Rebbe was born as the land of Judea lay beneath the heavy Roman heel. The Roman government, furious at the stubbornness of the Jewish people, passed severe decrees against them. One of these decrees concerned the vital mitzvah of milah (circumcision).

The Jews were horrified to learn that the Romans had decreed that any Jew who cir­cumcised his child would be put to death and were in turmoil. How could one not fulfill the mitzvah that was the sym­bol of the covenant between the Almighty and His people? On the other hand, who had the courage to risk death by defying the decree?

Rabi Shimon Ben Gamliel, descendant of the great Hillel and head of the Sanhedrin, was blessed by G-d just at that time with a son. Great was the rejoicing but equally great was the trepidation.

But Rabi Shimon never hesitated. He took his eight-day old son and performed the ritual that brought him into the covenant of Avraham Avinu.

The Romans Hear

The Roman governor soon learned of Rabi Shimon’s actions. He was furious.

“Bring Rabi Shimon before me imme­diately,” he said.

Rabi Shimon was brought to the palace and before the angry gover­nor.

“What have you done? Why have you defied the orders of the Roman Caesar and circumcised your son?”

Rabbi Shimon looked at the governor and replied: “I have obeyed the orders of a greater king than the Roman Caesar. I have obeyed the decree of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, who is Sovereign of the universe.”

“I realize that you are the leader of the Jewish people and I respect you as a great man” the governor said, “but duty compels me to take you into custody for having broken the Roman law. You, your wife and the newborn child will go under guard to Rome and Caesar himself will decide your fate.”

On To Rome

The trip took many days and when they reached Italy they stopped at a hotel before proceeding on to Rome. The Empress was also staying at the same hotel for the Al-Mighty had decreed that she should give birth about the same time.

The wife of Rabi Shimon, as the leader of the Jews, had met the Empress before and they had become good friends.

“What are you doing here?” the Empress asked in surprise.

Rabi Shimon’s wife burst into tears and poured forth the entire story,

“Because we circumcised our son, Caesar, your husband, will probably con­demn us all to death.”

The Plan

The Roman Empress listened in horror to the tale that had just unfolded and she rose to her feet, “Never! This will never happen!”

“I am afraid it will,” said Rabi Shimon’s wife, sadly, “There is nothing that we can do. We defied the law of tyranny and now we shall be punished for it.”

“No, perhaps not.” said the Empress, as her face brightened,

“What do you mean?”

“I have an idea which just might work if you are willing to try it out.”

“I will do anything if the life of my son will be spared.”

“Very well,” said the Empress. “I have just given birth to a son also. He is not cir­cumcised. Let us exchange babies temporar­ily and when you show the baby to the king he will see that the child is uncircumcised and will let you all go free.”

The Jewish mother listened to the plan and agreed to try it out.

“Perhaps if the Almighty wishes it, the plan will work and we will be saved.”

In the greatest secrecy the two women gathered up their infants and exchanged them. The uncircumcised Roman baby, heir to the Roman kingdom was given to the wife of the Jewish leader and little Yehuda, destined to be one of the giants of Torah, was handed over to the Roman Empress.

Before The Emperor

The next morning the party proceeded on its journey and was taken to the palace to see the Emperor.

“I have heard that you have defied the decree of the Empire and circumcised your child,” the Emperor said. “You realize, of course, that you are liable for the death penalty for treason.”

Rabi Shimon remained silent but his wife rushed forward and said, “O Caesar, here is the child. I ask you to inspect him before you pass judgment on us.”

The Emperor took the child in his hands and looked at him.

“What is this?” he exclaimed. “This child is not circumcised! Is this a joke?”

The Romans who had accompanied the group were thunderstruck. How was it possible?

“The governor will hear from me,” the Emperor roared, ”You Jews may leave and return to your homeland.”

Once again the family stopped off at the hotel, this time to return the babies to their rightful mothers. They exchanged lasting vows of friendship and the friendship passed over to the two young children.

When the Roman baby, Antonius, grew up and assume the throne he never forgot his mother’s friend and son.

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3 Responses to “Rabi Yehudah And Antoninus”

  1. Mike Roloff says:

    Unfortunately it is / has been circumcision that has MADE for no end of anti-semitic sentiments. Freud found that it was the chief reason for unconscious anti-Semitism. And the myths surrounding it are at the core of the “blood libel.” Thus, It's time to eliminate the Brit Milah because if that is the chief reason.
    for being anti-Semitic or anti-Abrahamic [Islam too practices the rite] then why hang on to this left-over of human sacrifice? that traumatizesthe child, cutting off 5,000 nerves, that is the equivalent of female circumcision in the sense that it eliminates everything but the clitoris, and only serves the UltraOrthodox to maintain their power? After all, reform Judaism sought to eliminate the rite in the 19th century, and Jewish identity depends on being born by a Jewish mother, or converting. Here a link to an archive of the entire German.
    and then some debate, note especially Michael Wolffsohn's two pieces. Circumcision has been controversial also within Jewry forever.

    Making it a taboo to compare male with female sexual mutilation is the.

    Die Tabuisierung jeglichen Vergleichs von männlicher mit weiblicher Genitalverstümmelung ist there große Skandal there Debatte. In beiden Fällen wird there empfindsamste und erogenste Teil des menschlichen Körpers amputiert oder schwer beschädigt. In beiden Fällen geht es in erster Linie um die Beschneidung menschlicher Sexualität. AND DOn't FORGET THE ARCHIVE! http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-circumcision-debate-links-and.html

    http://evidentist.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/beschneidung-ignoranz-und-sexismus/

    http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-circumcision-debate-links-and.html

    Eine Diskussion ueber das Thema, mit drei Deutschen + einem Amerikanischen Psychologen.

    http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/psychotherapeutenyahoogroupsde.html

    http://www.welt.de/print/die_welt/debatte/article108847257/Die-Vorhaut-des-Herzens.html

    http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/andere-meinung/gastkommentar-zur-beschneidungsdebatte-danke-deutschland/7160872.html

    http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

    http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html

    Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society.

  2. Mike Roloff says:

    Unfortunately it is / has been circumcision that has MADE for no end of anti-semitic sentiments. Freud found that it was the chief reason for unconscious anti-Semitism. And the myths surrounding it are at the core of the “blood libel.” Thus, It's time to eliminate the Brit Milah because if that is the chief reason.
    for being anti-Semitic or anti-Abrahamic [Islam too practices the rite] then why hang on to this left-over of human sacrifice? that traumatizesthe child, cutting off 5,000 nerves, that is the equivalent of female circumcision in the sense that it eliminates everything but the clitoris, and only serves the UltraOrthodox to maintain their power? After all, reform Judaism sought to eliminate the rite in the 19th century, and Jewish identity depends on being born by a Jewish mother, or converting. Here a link to an archive of the entire German.
    and then some debate, note especially Michael Wolffsohn's two pieces. Circumcision has been controversial also within Jewry forever.

    Making it a taboo to compare male with female sexual mutilation is the.

    Die Tabuisierung jeglichen Vergleichs von männlicher mit weiblicher Genitalverstümmelung ist there große Skandal there Debatte. In beiden Fällen wird there empfindsamste und erogenste Teil des menschlichen Körpers amputiert oder schwer beschädigt. In beiden Fällen geht es in erster Linie um die Beschneidung menschlicher Sexualität. AND DOn't FORGET THE ARCHIVE! http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-circumcision-debate-links-and.html

    http://evidentist.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/beschneidung-ignoranz-und-sexismus/

    http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-circumcision-debate-links-and.html

    Eine Diskussion ueber das Thema, mit drei Deutschen + einem Amerikanischen Psychologen.

    http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/2012/08/psychotherapeutenyahoogroupsde.html

    http://www.welt.de/print/die_welt/debatte/article108847257/Die-Vorhaut-des-Herzens.html

    http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/andere-meinung/gastkommentar-zur-beschneidungsdebatte-danke-deutschland/7160872.html

    http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

    http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html

    Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society.

  3. Jews have a proud history of being on the front lines of every fight for equality, justice, and human rights. This generation of Jews needs to stop and ask themselves if they want to continue that estimable legacy or abandon it; to continue to evolve or to regress. Just as in the past, devout Jews have given up the practices of owning slaves, murdering those who work on the Sabbath, murdering adulterers, and murdering rebellious children, it is time for Jews to cease the sexual mutilation of baby boys. Such human sacrifice to an angry God is passé. Forced sexual mutilation is a human rights issue and it is time for modern Jews to continue to lead civilization away from cruelty and darkness, not into it.

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