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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbeinu Hakadosh’

The Death Of Rebbi

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the redactor of the Mishnah known as “Rebbi,” lay dying, he made his sons promise him that after his death they would set the Shabbat table and light the candles for him every Friday night.

There is a connection between the righteous, the world to come and Friday night. All are invested with kedushah (holiness). Kedushah is synonymous with peace. Shabbat is synonymous with peace. Shabbat Shalom. Peace is a state of harmony between body and soul when they no longer fight each other and no longer pull in different directions.

Perhaps nobody suffered more from internal strife than King David. Abigail’s words of farewell to King David as he lay dying were “May your soul be bound up in the bundle of life.” In the world to come, when the body is separated from the soul, there is eternal peace.

The soul, having left the body, settles in its eternal resting place under God’s heavenly throne. This, however does not happen immediately. According to the Talmud, for the first twelve months after death, the soul wanders restlessly between heaven and earth trying to reunite with the body. The lifelong partnership with the body, however volatile it may have been, is not easily terminated. It is only when the soul has reached the eternal level of holiness that it finally comes to rest in the presence of God.

Hence the Kaddish is recited during the first eleven months of restlessness to assist the soul in its quest for peace. On Friday night we rest in peace from the physical toil of the week and have a taste of the world to come. Indeed, Shabbat is referred to as a mirror of the world to come.

Few people have managed to live in eternal peace during their own lifetime. One such person was Rebbi, who lived in the second century. As he lay dying, he lifted his ten fingers toward heaven and said, “You know that I toiled with my ten fingers in the study of Torah. May it be your wish that there be peace in my place of eternal rest.” The Torah is a tree of life to those who cling to it. Its roads are harmonious and its ways are peaceful. No wonder, then, that Rebbi, who toiled his whole life in the streets of the Torah, found peace during his own lifetime. Indeed, he was known as our holy Rebbi, Rabbeinu Hakadosh.

It seems that Rebbi was so content in this world that he did not want to leave. “Why are you crying?” asked Rabbi Chiyah, the disciple of Rebbi. “You know it is a good omen to die with a smile.”

“I am crying on account of the Torah I will no longer be able to study and the commandments I will no longer be able to perform,” answered Rebbi.

Rebbi’s disciples did not want him to leave either. Neither, of course, did his “maidservant” (Amtei deRebbi). So they decreed the day a public fast and gathered around Rebbi’s home in the mountain village of Tzipori and prayed for his recovery.

“Anybody,” they warned “that breaks the news of Rebbi’s death will himself be put to death.” And as long as they prayed, Rebbi did not die. But he suffered terribly. And his “maidservant” could see him suffer no more. So she ascended to the roof carrying an earthenware jug. She turned her eyes heavenward and cried out, “the angels seek to take Rebbi and the people seek to keep Rebbi. May it be Your wish that those above overcome those below.”

But the disciples would not stop praying and would not release Rebbi from his suffering. So Rebbi’s “maidservant” held the earthenware jug aloft and cast it down into the street below where the disciples stood praying. The crash of the earthenware on the street below silenced their prayers for an instant and Rebbi’s soul departed. “Bo b’shalom” – come in peace – the angels greeted him.

The soul of Rebbi was equally at peace both in this world and the next. His soul did not suffer the distress of the wandering souls. And so we are told that each Friday night when Boi B’shalom was recited, he would return home, sit at the Friday night table and say Kiddush for his family. One Friday night, however, a neighbor saw him. Fearing that those who saw him would elevate him in their minds above his peers, he departed and was never seen again.

Tzippori

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Midrash Berashis Rabbah says that on the day that Rabi Akiva gave up his soul al Kiddush Hashem, Reb Yehudah HaNasi was born. A seven-generation descendent of Hillel HaZaken, Rebbe was the son of Rabban Shimon ben Gamlial, and of the royal line of Dovid HaMelech. Known as Rebbe and Rabbeinu Hakadosh, he was a key leader of the Jewish community of Judea, during the occupation by the Roman Empire, toward the end of the 2nd century CE. He was the greatest of the fifth generation of Tanaim. Rebbi was a talmid of the five main students of Rabi Akiva. He is best known as the compiler of the Mishnah. Reb Yehudah haNasi passed away on 15 Kislev 3950 (190 CE).

The Gemara in Kesubos (104a) relates that before he died he lifted his ten fingers towards the heavens and declared he had not even enjoyed even a little finger of this world. (This was so even though he was very wealthy and greatly revered in Rome and had a close friendship with “Antoninus”, possibly the Emperor Antoninus Pius who is still famed for his philosophic work ”Meditations of Marcus Aurelius”.)

Sefer Chassidim records that after he passed away, Rabbeinu HaKadosh used to visit his home every Friday evening at dusk wearing Shabbos clothes. He would recite Kiddush, and his family would thereby discharge their obligation to hear it. One Friday night there was a knock at the door. The maid asked the visitor to come back because Rabbeinu HaKadosh was in the middle of Kiddush. From then on he stopped coming, since he did not want his visits to become public knowledge.

The root of Rebbe’s soul was that of Yaakov Avinu. It is said that Yaakov Avinu never died and we see from the above story that Rabbeinu HaKadosh also did not die. Both Yaakov Avinu and Rebbe had the same task. Rebbe had said that the seventeen years he spent in Tzippori were equal to the seventeen years Yaakov spent in Egypt. Yaakov taught Torah during those those years, preparing the nation for its first galus. Rebbe spent the last seventeen years of his life compiling the Mishnah, preparing Am Yisrael for the long and bitter galus Edom.

tzion claimed to be Rebbi’s is found in Tzippori, which is in the rolling hills of the Galilee. (According to Talmud Yerushalmi [Kila’im 9:4], Rebbi was buried in Bet She’arim.)  In very ancient times the city was called Sepphoris. It was fortified by the Assyrians, and then used by the Babylonians and then the Persians as an administrative center. It was the Chashmonaim who gave the city the name Tzippori when they settled there. Rabi Yochanan indentified Rekes as Tzippori; it is so called as it sits high on a hill like a bird. The air there is very clear and fresh.

Herod the Great took over the city and brought in Roman influences. After Herod’s death the Jews of Tzippori rebelled against Roman rule causing Varus, the Roman governor to destroy the city and sell many of its Jews into slavery. In 1 CE, when Herod Antipas became governor, he rebuilt the city and renamed it Autocratis. It was such beautiful city that it was described it as “the ornament of all Galilee.” The Jews of the city chose not to rebel during the first Jewish Revolt in 66 CE; they opened their gates to the Roman army and signed a pact with them.

During the 2nd century the city was renamed Diocaesarea. After the Bar Kochba revolt many Jews moved to the city. Reb Yehudah Hanasi moved the Sanhedrin from Bet She’arim to Tzippori, where he compiled the Mishnah. He summoned all the Sages in the land, including the great scholars that had come up from Bavel to come and help him.

In the year 351 CE, Gallus Caesar quelled a Jewish rebellion in the city.

In 363 CE an earthquake destroyed the city of Diocaesarea.

During the Byzantine period Jews, Romans and Christians lived peacefully in the city.

From 634 CE the Arabs, under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, conquered and ruled the city, then known as Saffuriya.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/tzippori/2012/10/25/

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