web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



These I Will Remember


Astaire-080814-Soldiers

His name was Yehudah and he lived sometime during the Middle Ages. Perhaps he witnessed the massacre of innocent Jewish communities during the First Crusade and saw a need to find a deeper meaning for the tragedy within the context of Jewish history. Or perhaps he lived a few hundred years later, when the Catholic Church was applying pressure to convert, and he wished to help his fellow Jews remain firm in their decision to accept martyrdom rather than abandon their faith. The truth is that we do not know why Yehudah Chazak—Yehudah, may he be strong—penned his stirring liturgical poem Eleh Ezkerah (These I Will Remember), since we know nothing else about him.

Yet we do know that this piyut about the Ten Martyrs, which is read during Mussaf of Yom Kippur, has strengthened and inspired countless kehillos during the centuries that have followed. It is therefore worth a closer look, both at the piyut and the lives of the Aseret Harugei Malchut, during these weeks of preparation for the Yamim Noraim.

 

Early Sources

The piyut Eleh Ezkerah is based upon much older sources, including Eichah Rabbah, one of the oldest midrashic works, and Midrash Eleh Ezkerah, which tells the story of the Ten Martyrs in detail. In the latter midrash, the account opens with a nameless Roman leader leafing through the pages of Tanach, when he chances upon the story of the sale of Yosef by his brothers. After discovering that the brothers were never punished for kidnapping Yosef, a deed that would normally incur the death penalty under Torah law, the Roman ruler decrees that ten of Israel’s greatest Sages must be executed in place of the brothers. In the stanzas that follow, the poet recounts the cruel and violent means of death that is meted out to each of the Torah scholars. The piyut concludes with a plea to Hashem to be compassionate and gracious to His people.Astaire-080814-Words

The poem is not a strictly historical account. As others have pointed out, it’s hard to imagine a Roman Caesar spending his free afternoons learning Torah. Also, the Ten Martyrs mentioned – Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, Rabi Yishmael Kohen Gadol, Rabi Akiva ben Yosef, Rabi Chananya ben Tradyon, Rabi Chutzpis the Interpreter, Rabi Elazar ben Shamua, Rabi Chanina ben Chachinai, Rabi Yesheivav the Scribe, Rabi Yehudah ben Damah and Rabi Yehudah ben Bava – lived at different times. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel and Rabi Yishmael, for instance, were murdered shortly after Churban Bayis Sheini, while Rabi Akiva and the other seven martyrs were killed more than 60 years later, after the Bar Kochba Revolt.

There is also a disagreement in the sources about how many martyrs there were and their names. Arzei Levanon, the kinah read on Tisha B’Av, mentions only eight names, leaving out Rabi Chanina ben Chachinai and Rabi Yehudah ben Damah. Other sources substitute some of the names in Arzei Levanon and Eleh Ezkerah with those of Rabi Chananya the Deputy High Priest, Rabi Yehudah ben Teima, Rabi Yehudah the Baker and Rabi Tarfon.

Yet there is no disagreement about the historical background of Eleh Ezkerah. The Jews suffered terribly during the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ruled over Judea from 117 to 138 CE. The fall of Beitar. The leveling of Jerusalem. The decrees against teaching Torah. These, too, we remember.

 

After The Churban

The destruction of Bayis Sheni was certainly one of the most traumatic events in Jewish history. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed during the Great Revolt, the war the Jews waged against Rome. Of those who survived, many were sold into slavery. When Masada, the last Jewish stronghold, fell in 73 CE, the Romans were certain that this was the end of Judea.

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.

One Response to “These I Will Remember”

  1. Many enemies at different times throughout the ages killed, percecuted, enslaved and drove out the Jews from their land but it never killed the dream and the hope of return. Every year every Jew prays for Next Year in Jerusalem, never forgetting their exile from The Land.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Sections Stories
Mindy-092614-Choc-Roll

I should be pursuing plateaus of pure and holy, but I’m busy delving and developing palatable palates instead.

Schonfeld-logo1

Brown argues that this wholehearted living must extend into our parenting.

Twenties-092614-Abrams

If we truly honor the other participants in a conversation, we can support, empathize with, and even celebrate their feelings.

Twenties-092614-OU-Mission

I witnessed the true strength of Am Yisrael during those few days.

She writes intuitively, freely, and only afterwards understands the meaning of what she has written.

“I knew it was a great idea, a win-win situation for everyone,” said Burstein.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

“I would really love my mother-in-law …if she weren’t my mother-in-law.”

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

It’s Rosh Hashanah. A new year. Time for a fresh start. Time for a new slate. Time for change.

Governor Rick Scott visited North Miami Beach/Aventura on the morning of Wednesday, September 17.

While the cost per student is higher than mainstream schools, Metzuyan Academy ESE is a priceless educational opportunity for children with special needs in South Florida.

Challah-pa-looza helped get the community ready and excited about the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Miami businessman and philanthropist Eli Nash had many in tears as he shared his story of the horrific abuse he suffered from age 8 to 11.

More Articles from Libi Astaire
Astaire-092614-Sunrise

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.

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

Even though the Roman victory signaled the end of Jewish sovereignty, it did not mean the end of Torah Judaism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/these-i-will-remember/2014/08/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: