web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


These I Will Remember: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I


Astaire-081514

Mussaf on Yom Kippur. We have recalled the glory of the Temple Service, the majestic appearance of the Kohen Gadol as the joyous crowd accompanied him home. In Eleh Ezkerah, the piyyut about the Ten Martyrs that follows, we recall a very different scene – when the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael came to an end. When it became a crime punishable by death to teach Torah.

Because Eleh Ezkerah is written in such a way that it seems that all ten of the martyrs lived and died at around the same time – only one nameless Roman ruler is mentioned – there is a difference of opinion about the identity of the first of the martyrs to be killed, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, Nasi (Prince) of Israel. If the piyyut is referring to a sage who lived at the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt and was a contemporary of Rabi Akiva, then the poem is referring to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel II. However, most historians believe that the medieval paytan Yehudah Chazak was referring to an earlier leader of Israel, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I, who was killed soon after Churban Bayis Sheni.

By the time Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I became a leader of Israel, the nasi no longer wielded political power. Herod, who died in 4 BCE, had basically sold Judea to Rome for the privilege of being king. During the century that followed Herod’s death, Judea became a Roman province; its subsequent kings sometimes had more power and sometimes less, but the real authority rested in Roman hands. The nasi’s power was therefore constrained to the religious realm. To distinguish the nasi from the other rabbanim, he was given the honorary title of Rabban, Our Master.

Rabban Shimon, a grandson of Hillel, was the last nasi to serve while the Beis HaMikdash still stood. Thus, he was present during Sukkot’s joyous Water Drawing celebrations, and “It is taught: They said of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that when he rejoiced at the simchat beit hasho’eva, he used to take eight lighted torches [and throw them in the air] and catch one and throw one and they did not touch one another” (Sukkot 53a).

Mishnah Keritot 1:7 shows another side of this Sage who lived during one of the most troubled times of Jewish history. At one point the price of birds used for the korbanot brought by women who had suffered a miscarriage rose to the exorbitant price of one gold dinar for just one pair of doves. “Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, ‘I will not sleep tonight until their price is a silver dinar.’” That very day the prices fell—to just one fourth of a silver dinar.

Rabban Shimon is quoted in Mishnah 1:17 of Pirkei Avot as saying, “All my days I have grown up among the Sages, and have found nothing better for man than silence; and not the expounding of Torah is the chief thing, but practice; and he who talks profusely occasions sin.”

True to this mishnah, there are few other references to Rabban Shimon in the Talmud, despite his prominent position. But we do know from the historian Josephus that although Rabban Shimon at first maintained close relations with the Roman rulers, following the policy of his father, Rabban Gamliel I, by the time of the Great Revolt, conditions had become so oppressive that he joined the war party against Rome. It was a decision that would prove to be fatal.

According to one tradition, the sage Shmuel HaKatan prophesized on his deathbed, “Shimon and Yishmael will die by the sword, and their colleagues are destined to be murdered, and the rest of the nation will be plundered and great persecutions are destined to befall the nation” (Sanhedrin 11a). Rabban Shimon and Rabi Yishmael Kohen Gadol decided to inform others about this prediction, and, while they were traveling, were arrested by Roman officers, accused of treason and condemned to death.

About the Author:


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.

7 Responses to “These I Will Remember: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I”

  1. Ross Sher says:

    If the jews in America fund and support Democrats, it will contribute to the destruction of Israel. ObsMA IS aNTI SEMITIC. Recently he bloc shipment to Israel.Where is Durbin and Schumar voices.. American and Canadian activists are working to prevent an Israeli cargo ship from docking on the West Coast of the US or Canada. The ship is headed towards California. The BDS refuses to unload the ship. Race your voices. Don’t be silent. The unions demandshouldnt be happened..

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Sen.Barbara Mikulski
Maryland’s Sen. Mikulski Gives Obama Magic Number for Iran Deal
Latest Sections Stories

The two Torah giants spent hours discussing a variety of Torah topics, some of which went well beyond subjects normally dealt with in Lithuanian yeshivas.

Lunchbox Restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Bringing your own sandwich to a restaurant would appear as the height of chutzpah, but not any more—at least not at Lunchbox…

Recipe-082815-LChaim-cookbook

Last year, OneFamily published a cookbook in Hebrew featuring the bereaved mothers’ recipes.

How did an unresolved murder case turn into an accusation of ritual murder?

Excerpted from The Apple Cookbook (c) Olwen Woodier. Photography by (c) Leigh Beisch Photography with Food Stylist Robyn Valarik. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

The flag had been taken down in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and was now back and flying.

A light breakfast of coffee and danishes will be available during the program.

A variety of glatt kosher food will be available for purchase at Kosher Korner (near Section 1).

Jewish Press South Florida Editor Shelley Benveniste will deliver a talk.

Corey Brier, corresponding secretary of the organization, introduced the rabbi.

The magnificent 400-seat sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows, a stunning carved glass Aron Kodesh, a ballroom, social hall, and beis medrash will accommodate the growing synagogue.

Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.

I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.

His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.

More Articles from Libi Astaire
Astaire-082815-Books

How did an unresolved murder case turn into an accusation of ritual murder?

The Brodsky Synagogue in Kiev

The pogroms of 1881-1884 were sparked by the assassination of Alexander II.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

After diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the mid-1800s, Antwerp regained its prominence as the diamond capital of the world.

If the people lacked for material things, the Pale was spiritually rich.

After the last of Austria’s Jews were murdered, Albert confiscated whatever Jewish property remained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/features-on-jewish-world/these-i-will-remember-rabban-shimon-ben-gamliel-i/2014/08/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: