web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 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
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Sections Stories
Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

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.

South-Florida-logo

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.

More Articles from Libi Astaire
Astaire-022715-Countryside

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.

Astaire-112114-Horse

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

It was a land of opportunity, a place where someone who wasn’t afraid of a little hard work, or the challenges of adapting to a different climate and culture, could prosper.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

The interpreter was expected to be a talmid chacham himself and be able to also offer explanations and clarifications to the students.

“Rabi, if I make the flames hotter and remove the wool sponges from your heart, will you bring me to the World to Come?”

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/these-i-will-remember-rabban-shimon-ben-gamliel-i/2014/08/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: