Galilee in the First Century (2)

by Shmuel Safrai

Sages in Galilee

We shall begin with the talmudic traditions about the presence of sages in Galilee during the Second Temple and Yavneh periods, referring chiefly to those sages who were active during the first century, and not listing those about whom we have information mainly from the end of the Yavneh period.

Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai

The earliest tradition, apparently dating to the first half of the first century, is about Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai who lived and taught Torah in Arav in Lower Galilee. He is mentioned twice in Mishnah Shabbat with the formula: “An occurrence came before Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai in Arav, and he said….”1mShabbat 16:7; 22:3.

The talmudic traditions about Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai link him to one of four groups by location: Arav, Jerusalem, Yavneh and Beror Hayil. It seems, as is assumed by Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s biographers, that during his youth, he lived in Arav, where he taught Torah; afterwards he came to Jerusalem where he stayed until close to the destruction of the Temple; from there he went to Yavneh (which is mentioned in many sources); and toward the end of his life he came to Beror Hayil after he had left or had been forced to leave Yavneh.2See Alon, loc. cit., pp. 53-71, and his articles “Halikhato shel Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai le-Yavneh” (“Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s Going to Yavneh”); “Nesiuto shel Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai” (“Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s Term as Nasi”), in Mehkarim be-Toledot Yisrael (“Studies in Jewish History”; Tel Aviv, 1957), vol. 1, pp. 219-273.

When he lived in Arav, Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, who was also a resident of that city, “sat before him” (i.e., learned from him).3See especially Genesis Rabbah 6:84. Furthermore, the Babylonian Talmud relates: “It once happened that Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa went to learn Torah from Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, and his son fell ill” (Berakhot 34b). This report, too, suggests that Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai was a young man at the time, the father of a sick child.

There is no hint in the sources of Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai having come to Arav from another place, such as Jerusalem, or that he was sent there as the New Testament relates regarding certain scribes4Mt. 15:1; Mk. 3:22, 7:1; Lk. 5:17. who arrived in Galilee from Jerusalem. He may have been a native of Arav, as was his disciple Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa. In either case, we have a clear tradition of the permanent residence during the course of years5The 18 years stated by the Amora Ulla (see below) is not necessary an exact number. of a sage, one of the pillars of the Oral Torah, who lived and taught in one of the cities of Galilee during a period for which we have almost no reports of sages living and teaching outside the city of Jerusalem.

We must also add that the rulings which were determined before Rabban Johanan — whether it is permitted to invert a dish over a scorpion on the Sabbath, with this not being considered an instance of the prohibited work of “trapping,” and secondly whether it is permitted to put wax on the hole in a jug on the Sabbath — are not trivial self-explanatory questions that could be addressed to any novice. Opinions were divided,6See the mishnaic references in note 3. It becomes clear in bShabbat 121b that the sages who permitted this, and the pietists who were not pleased by it, disagreed on this issue. See below. and even Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai did not give an unequivocal answer; regarding each of them he said, “I fear for him from a hatat.” That is, he feared lest he would err and be liable to bring a hatat (sin-offering). Incidentally, we learn that the Second Temple was still in existence, and a person who sinned would bring a hatat sacrifice to atone for his sin.7When, during the period following the destruction of the Second Temple, a person wished to say that he had sinned, he would write on his board: “Ishmael ben Elisha trimmed the lamp on the Sabbath, when the Temple shall be rebuilt he shall bring a hatat (sin-offering)” (tShabbat 1:13, and the parallels in the Talmuds).

The Jerusalem Talmud cites the Amora Ulla on these two traditions:

Rabbi Ulla said that he resided in Arav for eighteen years, and they asked him only these two questions. He said: “Galilee, Galilee, you hated the Torah; you will eventually be forced by the officers.”8jShabbat l6:15d.

This saying by Ulla is regarded by all the scholarly works as unequivocal proof of Galilee’s distance from, and hatred of, the Torah. It is not, however, a direct tradition of Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai. The Mishnah cites only the two cases which were brought before Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai in Arav, not saying anything about a comment by him. It is Ulla, who lived in the second half of the third century, who possessed a tradition that Rabban Johanan, in contrast with the many cases brought before his contemporary Rabban Gamaliel, was consulted in only two cases during the eighteen years he lived in Arav, and that he prophesied that Galilee, for not studying Torah, would eventually be oppressed by the government officials.

It should not be forgotten that Galilee resembled Judea, and the Land of Israel in general, in being oppressed by government officials.9See especially Sifrei Deuteronomy 357:425-427. Thus this vague rebuke cannot cancel or even lessen the generality of the proofs of the presence of the sages and their teaching of Torah, in great measure in Galilee as we shall see below.

But even if we accept Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s authorship of this statement, we can draw no definite conclusions from its blunt language which was employed under specific circumstances. It may be simply an unobjective denigration of the kind we find elsewhere directed against the residents of other geographical areas. An example is another tradition in the Jerusalem Talmud:

Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Johanan. He said to him: “Teach me Aggadah.” He said to him: “I possess a tradition from my fathers not to teach Aggadah, neither to a Babylonian nor to a Southerner, because they are haughty and possess little Torah, and you are a Nehardean and live in the South.’10jPesahim 5:32a. A similar passage also appears in bPesahim 62b.

The same charges are raised against Lod in another context. The Jerusalem Talmud asks why the determination of the new month is not made in Lod; Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Johanan’s disciple, replies, “because they are haughty and possess little Torah.”11jSanhedrin 1:18c.

These denigrations certainly cannot be taken at face value. During the period of Rabbi Johanan, the middle of the third century, neither the Babylonians — and certainly not the Nehardeans — nor the Southerners (i.e., those from Lod) were either “possessing little Torah” or “haughty.” Nehardea had been a place of Torah since early times and was the first, or possibly the second, center of Torah in Babylonia. The South was the second most important center of Torah during that period. It contained the academy of Rabbi Joshua ben Levi, and many sages of the first order were from Lod where they taught Torah. “The rabbis of the South,” “our rabbis in the South,” and similar expressions appear frequently in talmudic literature.12See, e.g., jEruvin 6:23c; bHullin 132b; Pesiqta Rabbati 29 (138b); and many other passages.

In several places the tradition adds the opinion of the people of the South to that of the people of the North, Sepphoris or Tiberias, or it compares the position of the Southerners with that of the sages from Sepphoris and Tiberias, just as it brings baraitot and traditions from the South.13jTa’anit 4:69b; jMoed Katan 3:82d; jShevi’it 5:35d; and many other passages. See S. Lieberman, Sifrei Zuta (New York, 1968), especially pp. 92-94. Rabbi Hanina, the teacher of Rabbi Johanan, who lived in Sepphoris, said, “Southerners have soft hearts; they hear a word of Torah and they are persuaded”14jTa’anit 3:66c. This harsh comment directed against the Southerners apparently was formulated in Galilee, Sepphoris or Tiberias; it declares that the people of Galilee are superior in both their Torah and personal attributes to the Southerners. It is quite doubtful, however, whether this is objectively accurate. Likewise, the statement attributed by Ulla to Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai indicates the intent to denigrate the people of Galilee, and no real conclusions can be drawn from it.

Furthermore, the two laws about which Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai was asked are from the realm of Sabbath law. Regarding one of them, whether it is permitted to harm a potentially dangerous animal, the sages and the hasidim (pietists) disagreed. A baraita states: “The hasidim are displeased with the person who kills snakes and scorpions on the Sabbath.” Rava bar Rav Huna adds: “And the sages are displeased with these hasidim,”15bShabbat 121b; see S. Safrai, “Teaching of Pietistics in Mishnaic Literature,” Journal of Jewish Studies 16 (1965), 15-33. It is possible that the thrust of this comment against the people of Galilee regarding this law is directed against the hasidim who were in Galilee and who were criticized, beginning with Hillel and continuing through Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, for not being sufficiently occupied with Torah because they explicitly stressed the superiority of the “deed” over study.16mAvot 2:5. See S. Safrai, “Hasidim we-Anshei Ma’aseh” (“Pietists and Miracle-Workers”), Zion 50 (1985), 152-154. Regarding Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, see Avot deRabbi Nathan, A:12 (28b), B:27 (40b). See Safrai, ibid., pp. 132-136.

Rabbi Halafta

Rabbi Halafta (or Abba Halafta), who came from Sepphoris, was a younger contemporary of Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai. He was the father of the well-known Tanna Rabbi Jose ben Halafta, who was one of the disciples of Rabbi Akiva. The Tosefta relates that Rabbi Halafta introduced the rules for communal fast-days in Sepphoris, together with his colleague Rabbi Hananiah ben Teradyon in Sikhnin. When the sages learned of this, they said that this was practiced only at the Eastern Gates (Ta’anit, end of ch. 1, and parallels).17mTa’anit 2:5; see also tTa’anit 2:13; bTa’anit 16b; bRosh Ha-Shanah 27a. It is logical to date this event after the destruction of the Temple but before the Bar Kokhba revolt, for Rabbi Halafta, who cites teachings from the time of the Temple, from the period of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder (as will be shown below), certainly did not live until after the Bar Kokhba revolt. He was born many years before the destruction of the Temple, for his son, Rabbi Jose, relates about him:

It once happened that Rabbi Halafta went to Rabban Gamaliel, to Tiberias, and he found him sitting at the table of Johanan ben Nezif, with the Targum of the Book of Job in his hand. Rabbi Halafta said to him: “I remember that Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, your father’s father, would sit on a stair of the Temple Mount. They brought before him the Targum of the Book of Job, and he said to the builder, ‘Bury it under the rubble.’”18tShabbat 13:2; bShabbat 115a. jShabbat 16:15c brings the event involving Rabban Gamaliel the Elder at the Temple Mount without the narrative regarding Rabbi Halafta’s visit to Tiberias.

Here Rabbi Halafta meets Rabban Gamaliel II who has come to Tiberias for a visit, where he finds a Targum of Job. Abba Halafta, who lives in Sepphoris, comes to visit him, and tells him of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder’s attitude toward the Targum of Job. Rabban Gamaliel’s visit to Tiberias took place c. 100, for it cannot be assumed that Rabban Gamaliel could have headed the leadership in Yavneh before the decline of the Flavian emperors in the year 96. The incident involving Rabban Gamaliel the Elder occurred c. 50-60. The Galilean sage therefore tells of an incident involving the Targum of Job in Jerusalem during this same period; we may assume that he saw this when he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in his youth.

We do not know from whom he learned Torah or where he studied, nor do we find him in Yavneh. Rabbi Halafta does not cite teachings in the name of the sages of Yavneh. It is possible that he went to Jerusalem to study in his youth; it is also possible that he received his knowledge in Galilee. At any rate, he had an academy, or something approaching an academy, in Galilee. Johanan ben Nuri, who also was one of the sages of Galilee in the post-destruction generation, would go to Rabbi Halafta and ask him questions on points of law; several times he adds that this is his opinion, while Rabbi Akiva holds a different opinion.19tMa’aser Sheni 1:13; tBava Batra 2:6 (= bBava Batra 56b), tAhilot 5:7; tKelim Bava Metzia 1:5. We do not find Rabbi Halafta in Yavneh, possibly because of his advanced age, while Rabbi Johanan ben Nuri, who was younger and who was still alive after the Bar Kokhba war,20He lived until the time of Rabbi Judah the Nasi, all of the traditions regarding whom are after the time of the revolt. See tSukkah 2:2; jSanhedrin 7:24b. was the one who went to Yavneh and reported the opinions of the Yavneh sages to Rabbi Halafta.

Rabbi Halafta lived until the time of the revolt against Trajan in the years 115-116. His son Rabbi Jose relates:

It once happened that four elders were sitting silently [in the store]21Thus the Commentary by Rabbi Simeon of Sens on the Mishnah 22:9 and in Yehusei Tannaim we-Amoraim, s.v. Haggai (Maimon ed., p. 234) and Hutzpit (ibid., p. 441). of Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah in Sepphoris, [the other three were] Rabbi Huzpit [ha-Meturgeman],22Thus in Rabbi Simeon of Sens, loc. cit. Rabbi Yeshevav and Rabbi Halafta [Abba],23Thus in Rabbi Simeon of Sens, loc. cit. and they brought before them the top of a post which had been removed with a chisel.24tKelim Bava Batra 2:2.

We should accept the opinion of the scholars25See Alon, op. cit., p. 262. who state that the “silent” nature of their meeting indicates that this was a clandestine gathering in a time of persecution. It cannot have been the period of persecution during the Bar Kokhba war, for it is difficult to assume that Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah were still alive at that time. It is more reasonable to date this event during the period of the revolt against Trajan, even though these two sages were already then extremely advanced in years.

In general it can be stated that Abba Halafta was a native of the city of Sepphoris, and was born in the fourth or fifth decade of the first century. He was in Jerusalem during the time of Rabban Gamaliel; he had an academy in Sepphoris during the time of the Second Temple, or shortly after its destruction, and he was still alive during the revolt against Trajan.

Rabbi Hananiah (Hanina) ben Teradyon

Rabbi Hananiah (or Hanina) ben Teradyon must be mentioned together with Abba Halafta. He was a contemporary of Abba Halafta, but apparently younger, as will be shown below. The tradition that tells of the rules for communal fast-days introduced by Rabbi Halafta in Sepphoris states that they were also introduced by Rabbi Hanina in Sikhnin.26See note 19 above. A baraita listing all the courts in Israel from the time of the Chamber of Hewn Stone to the time of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi states: “Justice, justice shall you pursue’ [Deut. 16:20] — follow a proper court … said Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon to Sikhni.”27bSanhedrin 32b. We find that questions are directed to him regarding the ritual cleanness of the mikveh of Beit Anat in Lower Galilee.28tMiqwaot 6:3.

Particular to Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon are the traditions regarding the great scholarship of his daughter Beruriah.29tKelim Bava Metzia 1:6 and Bava Qamma 4:17; bPesahim 62b. She acquired her knowledge in Galilee before the Bar Kokhba war.30According to the traditions in the Babylonian Talmud, Beruriah was the wife of Rabbi Meir; however, there is no allusion to this in the Jerusalem Talmud. Beruriah was years older than Rabbi Meir, who was active mainly after the revolt. See S. Safrai, Eretz Yisrael we-Hakhameha (“The Land of Israel and Its Sages”; Tel Aviv, 1984), p. 179.

Various traditions link Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon and his family with events before the Bar Kokhba revolt and during the period of persecutions that followed the revolt. He was one of the Ten Martyrs, and their act of martyrdom took place after the revolt.31See Lamentations Rabbah 13:10; Semahot 12:13, 199-200; see also Alon, op. cit., vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 1-2.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah

The baraita describing the sages’ silent meeting in Sepphoris mentions that they sat in the shop of Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah. Many scholars in the field of Jewish history and culture have erred in establishing the period of this sage. In the well-known tradition of the deposition of Rabban Gamaliel from the post of Nasi, which is taught in both Talmuds,32jBerakhot 4:7d; bBerakhot 27b-28a. it is stated that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was appointed instead of Rabban Gamaliel, was sixteen or eighteen years old at the time.33Sixteen according to the Jerusalem Talmud, and eighteen according to the Babylonian Talmud. These scholars accepted the tradition as a historical fact. Since the deposition occurred shortly after the year 100, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah would then have been born a number of years after the destruction of the Temple.

It is not at all reasonable, however, that the sages would decide to appoint a man so young in place of Rabban Gamaliel, relying upon eighteen rows of his hair miraculously to turn white. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah’s “youth” is not a tradition, but rather a quasi-“exposition” of his statement in the Mishnah: “Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said: ‘Behold, I am as a seventy-year-old, and I have not merited’” (Berakhot 1:5). The Gemara interprets this: ‘“I am as a seventy-year-old,’ and not an actual seventy-year-old,” because he was appointed when young, and his hair turned white in order to give him the distinguished appearance of age. But such a statement was also made by Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah without his being the beneficiary of a miracle turning his hair white.34Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, tract. 1 of pasha, sect. 16:59. Furthermore, the passage in the Jerusalem Talmud on the same mishnaic statement35jBerakhot 1:3d. understands that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah actually was seventy years old, and comments on his statement, “Even though he attained a high position, he lived a long life.”

It can be learned from various sources that he was already an elderly man during the time of the Temple. In Tractate Shabbat, Rabbi Judah states in the name of Rav that each year Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah would set aside as ma’aser (tithe) 12,000 calves from his herd. According to the Halakhah, ma’aser from animals is not in effect after the destruction of the Temple; it may therefore be assumed that this is a tradition from the Temple period.36See bBekhorot 53b; bShabbat 54b. Rabbenu Tam discussed this contradiction in bShabbat 54b, capt. Hayah Ma’aseh. The “contradiction” came into existence only because Rabbenu Tam interpreted literally the statement that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was eighteen years old at the time of his appointment in place of Rabban Gamaliel. Rabbi Judah relates that Rabbi Eleazar (ben Azariah) purchased a synagogue from Tarsians in Jerusalem, “and he used it for his own purposes” (bMegillah 26a).37bMegillah 26a. The wording “Rav Eleazar ben Azariah” appears in all the MSS; in the commentary of Rabbenu Hananel in Ravayah, part 2, para. 590, 316; in Or Zaro’a, part 2, para. 385 (79c); in Meiri, ad. loc.; in Teshuvot Maharam mi-Rotenburg, Crimona, para. 165; in tMegillah 2(3):17. In jMegillah 3:71d Rabbi Judah transmits that Rabbi Eleazar ben Rabbi Zadok purchased a synagogue of Alexandrians in Jerusalem. It is possible that this is a different version of the same tradition, or perhaps two different traditions. The same difficulty which was perceived by Rabbeinu Tam was also perceived by Lieberman, who proposed a forced answer (Tosefta Ki-Fshutah: Moed, p. 1162). He also was forced into this difficulty only because he accepted as historical fact the legend that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed at the age of sixteen or eighteen. He therefore was an adult who set aside ma’aser and purchased a synagogue in Jerusalem. It is related in midrashim of the Land of Israel and in jKetuvot38Genesis Rabbah 17:152-154; Leviticus Rabbah 34:802-806; jKetuvot 11:34b. The narrative in the Jerusalem Talmud is related concisely, while Genesis Rabbah contains two versions, one long and the other short. This narrative is alluded to by the author of Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 25 (Friedmann ed., p. 139, as the editor saw, n. 30 there). that Rabbi Jose ha-Galili suffered from his wife but could not divorce her because her get (writ of divorce) was for a large sum. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, who was visiting in his house and saw this, gave him the money he needed. (This event undoubtedly took place in Galilee.)

To sum up: Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was a well-to-do, even wealthy, man. He served as an example of a wise and wealthy person,39mSotah 9:15; tSotah 15:3; bBerakhot 57b; bKiddushin 49b; bShabbat 54b. a priest of distinguished lineage40jYevamot 1:3b. The tradition regarding his appointment in place of the deposed Rabban Gamaliel stresses that he attained this because of his lineage (Jerusalem Talmud) and his wisdom and his wealth (Babylonian Talmud). and one of the greatest sages both of his generation and of all times.41tSotah 7:10 (and parallels); Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A: 18 (33b); et al. He was present in Jerusalem, like other Galilean families, some of whom we shall mention below. After the destruction of the Temple, he was present in Yavneh; he served at one point as head of the Sanhedrin there, and afterwards as Rabban Gamaliel’s deputy. He participated in the delegation of Rabban Gamaliel and other sages that went to Rome;42mMa’aser Sheni 5:9; bSukkah 4lb; tBetzah 2:12; Sifrei Numbers 43:94; et al. See also S. Safrai, “Biqqureihem shel Hakhmei Yavneh be-Roma,” Studies in the History of the Jews of Italy in Memory of U.S. Nahon (Jerusalem, 1978), pp. 151-167. with them he visited the ruins of Jerusalem43Sifrei, ibid., 75; bMakkot 24a; Lamentations Rabbah 5:159 He originated, however, from Sepphoris in Galilee, where he had a “shop.” Like Rabbi Halafta, he also lived a long life, being still alive during the revolt against Trajan. There is no information about him dating from after that revolt.

If we determine that he was born in the fifth decade C.E., then it is possible to arrange all the traditions in chronological order. At the age of twenty-five he stayed in Jerusalem and purchased a synagogue in the city. About the year 100 Rabban Gamaliel was deposed as Nasi and Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed in his place; he was about 60 years old at the time. He visited Rome and Jerusalem, and lived until the time of the revolt against Trajan, or shortly after it, being then about 70 years old. It should be added that his father, Azariah, also was one of the sages. For when a delegation of sages, which included Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, came to the aged Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas, the latter asked, referring to Eleazar: “And does our colleague Azariah have a son?”44bYevamot 16a.

Rabbi Zadok and Elisha ben Avuyah

Similar things can be said about Rabbi Zadok, who was one of the outstanding personalities among the Pharisaic sages in the generation before the destruction of the Temple, in which he served as a priest. While standing on the stairs of the ulam in the Temple, he raised his voice against those priests for whom “the ritual uncleanness of a knife for Israel was more severe than murder.”45tYoma 1:12, also 1:4; Sifrei Numbers 141:222; jYoma 2:39d; bYoma 23a. He frequently fasted so that Jerusalem would not be destroyed, and he was saved upon the request of Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai who greatly honored him.46bGittin 56b; Lamentations Rabbah 1:68. According to the Babylonian Talmud, he fasted for forty years so that Jerusalem would not be destroyed. It is stated in Lamentations Rabbah, according to the printed versions, that Vespasian asked Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai why he arose before “this shrivelled old man.” This is the source of the prevalent opinion that Rabbi Zadok was very advanced in years at the time of the destruction of the Temple. In order to match this fact with the other traditions regarding Rabbi Zadok, two “Rabbi Zadoks” were created, a grandfather and a grandson. But there is not necessarily a chronological difficulty. Even if we were to receive as historical the tradition which transmits that Rabbi Zadok fasted for forty years, there is no justification to our accepting as fact that he actually fasted for forty years, for “forty years” is a round number which appears in many places — that is, if he had fasted for only five years or less, the tradition would have related that he had fasted for forty years. Regarding the “shrivelled old man (sabba tzurata),” the word sabba (old man) does not appear in the Buber edition, nor in He-Arukh, s.v. Tzaitor (vol. 3, p. 15). Lamentations Rabbah does not state that he fasted for forty years, only that he was shrivelled from the fasts. He served as head of the court when Rabban Gamaliel was the Nasi,47tSanhedrin 8:1; jSanhedrin 1:19c. or according to other traditions concerning Rabban Gamaliel.48Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Yitro, tractate of Amalek, 1:195; Sifrei Deuteronomy 38:24; bKiddushin 32b. See also bPesahim 37a and 49a.

It may logically be assumed that he was born in Galilee. He sent his son to study under Rabbi Johanan ben ha-Horanit49tSukkah 2:3; tEduyot 2:2; bYevamot 15b. and, it may be assumed, to his place of residence in Transjordan. Rabbi Zadok, who was well-to-do, sent his son olives during years of drought. From Tivon in Lower Galilee he sent questions on matters of ritual cleanness to Yavneh. The wording of the baraita implies that these questions had first been brought before Rabbi Zadok:

Rabbi Eleazar the son of Rabbi Zadok said: “Father brought two cases from Tivon to Yavneh…a case involving a certain woman…and they came and asked Rabbi Zadok, and Rabbi Zadok went and asked the sages…once again, a case involving a certain woman and they asked Rabbi Zadok, and Rabbi Zadok went and asked the sages.”50tNiddah 4:3-4. See mEduyot 8:4; tEduyot 3:3; tArakhin 11:2.

Tivon was a center of Torah even before Rabbi Zadok, as well as for generations after him. The Mishnah relates: “Rabbi Joshua said, in the name of Abba Jose Holi-Kofri of Tivon.”51mMakhshirin 1:3, and the interpretation of halikopri: a metal merchant (χαλκωπώλης Rabbi Joshua belonged to the generation of the destruction of the Temple. He served in the Temple, and his teachings were heard during the time the Temple was still in existence.52See mEduyot 8:4; tEduyot 3:3; tArakhin 11:2.54 Afterwards he was active in Yavneh.53Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai also was in Galilee on his missions. See Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:12 (28b) and B:13 (ibid.). It may be assumed that Abba Jose Holi-Kofri, in whose name Rabbi Joshua cites a teaching, lived in the generation before Rabbi Joshua, i.e., during the Temple period.

Rabbi Zadok’s son, Rabbi Eliezer ben Zadok, who frequently speaks about his father, also was a sage. One tradition states that he and Abba Saul ben Batnit were shopkeepers in Jerusalem, selling oil.54tBetzah 3:8; jBetzah 3:62b. He speaks of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Temple.55tMegillah 3(4): 15; Semahot 12:5; bSukkah 41a; bPesahim 116a; bBava Batra 14a; bMenahot 40a. He is the sage who spoke most extensively about Jerusalem and the Temple. His coming from Galilee did not prevent him from living for a certain amount of time in Jerusalem, where he built a synagogue56tMegillah 2(3):17; jMegillah 3:ld. like other important Galilean families, some of whose sons lived for a period of time in Jerusalem. At any rate, we find him after the destruction of the Temple in Acre.57tKetuvot 5:10; jKetuvot 5:30c; bKetuvot 67a; Lamentations Rabbah 1 (43b); Pesiqta Rabbati 29 (140a). The city of Acre is not mentioned in all the parallels. It is almost certain that he lived where his father had lived, in Tivon.

Next to Rabbi Zadok we must mention Elisha ben Avuyah, the sage who left Judaism for the non-Jewish world and even participated, according to some versions, in persecutions of Israel and its religion, during the time of the Hadrianic persecutions.58tHagigah 2:3; jHagigah 2:77b-c; bHagigah 15a-b; Ruth Rabbah 6; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7. A tradition relates that he was born in Jerusalem, the son of one of the leading residents of the city; major sages attended his circumcision, which took place during the Temple period. The traditions of his public teaching of the Torah, before he abandoned Judaism, and his teachings are connected with Galilee: “He would sit and review in Ginnosar.”59Thus in the Jerusalem Talmud and in Ruth Rabbah, Kohelet Zuta 135 and Yalqut Makhiri on Psalms 90:84.

One of the versions in the Midrash reads: “Since he was speaking and expounding in the Chamber of Hewn Stone or in the academy in Tiberias…”60In MS Oxford 164. See the edition by M.B. Lemer (dissertation, Hebrew University, 1971), vol. 2, p. 174, and the notes, vol. 3, p. 6l. A baraita in the Babylonian Talmud, a portion of which is also found in Tractate Semahot, states:

It happened that the father of Rabbi Zadok died in Ginzaq. They informed him three years later. He came and asked Elisha ben Avuyah and the elders with him, and they said: “Observe [the mourning periods of] seven [days] and thirty [days].”61bMoed Katan 20a; bNazir 44a; Semahot 12, 2:194.

We also find “and four elders who were with him.”62Thus in the baraita in bNazir. That is, he was the colleague of five people, a number that is recurrently cited to denote a limited number of sages. Since Rabbi Zadok lived in Galilee and Elisha ben Avuyah was active as a sage in Galilee, it may be assumed that Rabbi Zadok’s inquiry to Elisha ben Avuyah took place in Galilee. We learn from this that during the time of the Temple, or shortly thereafter (for Rabbi Zadok’s father certainly did not die many years after the destruction of the Temple), he lived in a city in Galilee, apparently Tiberias, was a colleague of sages and taught Torah.

It is certainly possible to construct a chronology for Rabbi Zadok and Elisha ben Avuyah that permits us to include the various traditions about these two figures without having to invent two people by the name of “Rabbi Zadok” as is accepted practice among several scholars.63This interpretation was already offered by Rabbi Jacob Emden in his annotations on bMoed Katan 20a, and by many scholars after him. They raised this only because they followed the version in Babylonian Talmud, understanding it literally. According to this it follows that he already was very old during the time of the Temple. As we have clarified, however, there is no basis for this determination. See note 48 above. Rabbi Zadok was born during the years 20-30 C.E. As an adult, between thirty and forty years of age, he totally opposed distorted religious conduct in the Temple, and he also fasted in order to prevent the destruction of the Temple. In the sixties, his son was also present in Jerusalem, selling oil and purchasing a synagogue. They returned to Galilee after the destruction of the Temple. During these years (approximately 80-85), when he was fifty-five to sixty years old, his father died. Elisha ben Avuyah, who was already an outstanding sage by this time,64We can learn of Elisha ben Avuyah’s uniqueness from his aggadic dicta (Avot 4:20; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:24 and B:34), and from the fact that one of the outstanding sages, Rabbi Meir, a central figure in the Mishnah, remained loyal to Elisha ben Avuyah even after he “went forth from his world.” See the sources listed in note 60. was sitting with a group of sages in Galilee when Rabbi Zadok came to ask him to rule on a point of practical law. During this period Rabbi Zadok went to Yavneh, and when Rabban Gamaliel became head of the Sanhedrin, he sat next to him; he was not older than seventy at the time.

During the later years of Rabban Gamaliel’s activity, about the year 100, we hear no more of Rabbi Zadok. The tradition reporting the deposition of Rabban Gamaliel65jBerakhot 4:7c-d; bBerakhot 27b-28a; see also bBekhorot 36a. speaks of Rabbi Zadok; however, he is mentioned in connection with an event that had occurred in the past, and he himself was not present. Similarly, he is not mentioned in any of the many meetings of the sages that took place during the time of Rabban Gamaliel or after his death.

Rabbi Jose ben Kisma

Rabbi Jose ben Kisma is another sage who is connected with Tiberias. As we see from the traditions about him and his relations with his contemporaries, he was one of the well-known sages in his generation, although very few of his teachings are extant. All the traditions about him which are related to a specific place or which explicitly mention a place name are connected with Galilee, especially with Tiberias and its environs.

When the teaching of Torah was prohibited and he disagreed with Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon’s defiance of the edict, it seems he was the sage asked by Rabbi Hanina: “How do I stand with respect to the World to Come?” Rabbi Jose ben Kisma died during that period of persecutions, and all the leaders of Rome came to his grave.66bAvodah Zarah 18a. It is safe to assume that this dispute between Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon (of the city of Sikhnin) and Rabbi Jose ben Kisma was conducted in Galilee, and “the leaders of Rome” refers to the rulers of Tiberias or Sepphoris. Other traditions which we shall cite explicitly mention places in Galilee.

The Mishnah speaks of a problem of Sabbath law concerning which the sages disagreed, relating that “It once happened in the synagogue in Tiberias that they treated it as permitted, until Rabban Gamaliel came and the Elders prohibited them,” or the opposite according to the opinion of one sage (mEruvin 10:10). The sources relate about this event67bYevamot 96b; jSheqalim 2:47a. The Jerusalem Talmud does not mention Tiberias, but rather the synagogue of the Tarsians. This refers, however, to the mishnaic statement in Eruvin, in which Tiberias is mentioned. We may possibly conclude that this refers to a synagogue of Tarsians (after the name of the city Tarsus, or after the profession — artistic weavers) in Tiberias. The passage in the Jerusalem Talmud does not mention the name of the city Tiberias because the incident in which the tradition is placed took place in Tiberias in a conversation among Rabbi Elhanan, Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat, Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Assi, all of whom were Tiberian sages in the second half of the third century. They therefore mentioned only that this occurred in the synagogue of the Tarsians. The Jerusalem Talmud version is also found in Yalqut Makhiri on Psalm 6l:3 (156a). that the disagreement was so sharp it led to physical violence until they tore (in another version: was torn)68Thus according to the emendation of the text in the two Talmuds. a Torah Scroll in their anger. Rabbi Jose ben Kisma, who was present, said: “I should wonder if this synagogue will not become a place of idolatry.” There was a synagogue in Tiberias which was visited by Rabban Gamalil and the Elders. It seems that after this visit the dispute erupted on this question, and Rabbi Jose ben Kisma was present at the time.

It is possible that he merely happened to be in Tiberias on that occasion. However, in the chapter “Acquisition of the Torah” which is appended to Tractate Avot, Rabbi Jose ben Kisma relates:

Once I was walking along the way, when a man met me and greeted me, and I returned his greeting. He said to me, “My master, where do you come from?” I said to him, “I come from a great city of sages and scholars.” He said to me, “My master, do you wish to dwell with us in our place? I will give you a million golden dinars and precious stones and pearls.” I said to him, “My son, if you were to give me all the silver and gold and precious stones and pearls in the world, I would not dwell any – where except in a place of Torah.” (Avot 6:9)

It may be assumed that his “great city” was Tiberias, where there was a synagogue. This is a proof that it was a city of Torah before the Bar Kokhba revolt. Even if we disregard the rhetoric of “a great city of sages and scholars,” we are still left with testimony that Tiberias was the residence of sages.

A tradition in Midrash Tanhuma reads:

It once happened that Rabbi Jose ben Kisma and Rabbi Ilai and their disciples were walking about in Tiberias. He said to Rabbi Jose: “When will the son of David come?”…“I say to you, at the time when Tiberias falls and is rebuilt”…“From where do we know this?” He said to them: “Behold, the cave of Pameas [Paneas] turns from side to side, in accordance with his words.”69Tanhuma, wa-yishalah 8 (Buber ed., 83b). This tradition is to be found also in bSanhedrin 98a, but the latter source does not explicitly mention the name of the city Tiberias. We copy from the more complete version in Yalqut Makhiri on Obadiah, published by M. Gaster in Revue des Etudes Juives 25 (1892), 63-64. We find in the MSS that the passage is taken from Tanhuma. It was reprinted in Yalqut Makhiri, published by A.W. Greenup (London, 1909), p. 4.

Rabbi Ilai, too, belonged to the generation before the Bar Kokhba revolt, but he came from Usha in Galilee, as we shall see below. In this account he has gone to Rabbi Jose ben Kisma in Tiberias where they walk with their disciples and talk about the coming of the son of David, bringing examples from geographic features of the area.

Infrequently Mentioned Sages

We just saw Rabbi Ilai walking about in Tiberias. The sources do not state where he resided, but from the fact that his son Rabbi Judah, one of the most frequently mentioned sages in tannaitic literature, was from the city Usha,70Song of Songs Rabbah 2; Semahot 11, 4:188; tMegillah 2:8; et al. it may be assumed that the father came from the same city. Rabbi Ilai came at times to Yavneh, and tells of his meetings with the sages of Yavneh.71tPeah 3:2; bPesahim 38b; et al. He was the outstanding disciple of Rabbi Eliezer (ben Hyrcanus) ha-Shammuti72tZevahim 2:16-17; bMenahot 18a.74 and once when he came to his teacher on the festival of Sukkot, the latter was not pleased and chastized him for leaving his home on the holiday.73tSukkah 2:1 and parallels in the Talmuds. He accompanied Rabban Gamaliel on his visits to Galilee.74tPesahim 2 (1):15; jAvodah Zarah 1:40a; bEruvin 64b.

We know more details about Rabbi Johanan ben Nuri, who is mentioned in many traditions about the Yavneh generation; he even played a role in the leadership of the Sanhedrin in Yavneh.75Sifrei Deuteronomy 16:26 (see note by Finkelstein, ibid.); bEruvin 4la; Sifrei Deuteronomy 1:4; et al. He, too, was a disciple of Rabbi Eliezer ha-Shammuti and cites teachings in his name.76tOrlah 3:8; bKiddushin 39a; tKelim Bava Qamma 6:3; et al.78 It appears from many traditions that he was from Galilee, going back and forth between Galilee and Yavneh77See above and note 21.79 We can also establish that he resided in Beit Shearim.78tTerumah 7:14; tSukkah 2:2. Regarding the formulation, see S. Safrai, “Beit Shearim baSifrut ha-Talmudit” (“Beit Shearim in the Talmudic Literature”), Eretz Yisrael 5 (1959), 208 and n. 17.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Parta is mentioned a number of times in tannaitic literature together with the sages of Yavneh, but especially with those of Galilee.79Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, ba-hodesh 2:210; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:32 (47a); et al. He was seized by the authorities together with Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon, but released.80bAvodah Zarah 17b. His residence was apparently in Sepphoris, for it was stated81Tanhuma, masei 1 (Buber ed., 81a). that when “evil decrees arrived from the authorities [on the Sabbath] for the great ones of Sepphoris,” they came to Rabbi Eleazar ben Parta for advice.82Thus in the printed editions. This is also what may be assumed from the issue itself, for the question is when may a person who is persecuted by the non-Jews desecrate the Sabbath: the answer is that he mav flee, and mention is made of the narrative regarding Rabbi Eleazar ben Parta, who hinted to them to flee.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Teradyon is mentioned once, in a question he asked of the sages.83jGittin 7.48d. Since the name “Teradyon” otherwise appears only in reference to Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon, scholars assume that they were brothers.84See Büchler, p. 200. In the parallel to this question in the Jerusalem Talmud and the Tosefta, the name “Rabbi Eleazar ben Tadai”85jSotah 1:16c; tGittin 5(7):4. occurs; this sage is mentioned several times in Halakhah and Aggadah, together with sages of the Yavneh generation.86jShabbat l:5d; bShabbat 123a; bEruvin 71b; Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, shirah 1:119.

Another sage, “Rabbi Jose ben Tadai of Tiberias,” is mentioned only once. In a question he asked of Rabban Gamaliel, he attempted to ridicule the qal wa-homer form of proof: “And Rabban Gamaliel excommunicated him.”87Tractate Derekh Eretz 1. In the Higger edition of the Tosefta, Derekh Eretz 3:267. Büchler, ibid., erroneously joined this to Rabbi Eliezer ben Tadai. Regarding the exchange Teradyon-Tadion—Taddai, see Y. M. Epstein, “Perurim Talmudiyim” (“Talmudic Crumbs”), Tarbiz 3 (1932), 111.

We must add Rabbi Zakkai of Kavul to the list of Galilee sages who were active during or shortly before the Yavneh generation. He is mentioned only a few times. Genealogists of the Tannaim and Amoraim usually list him much later among the sages in the first generation of Amoraim, for Tractate Semahot relates that Judah and Hillel, sons of Rabban Gamaliel, went to Rabbi Zakkai in Kavul (Semahot 8:4). Talmudic literature mentions a number of stories connected with the visit to Galilee of those two brothers.88See below. Since they are commonly assumed to have been sons of the Rabban Gamaliel who was the son of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi and followed him as Nasi around the year 220-225, their visit to Rabbi Zakkai in Kavul would have occurred during the first generation of Amoraim. Elsewhere,89See Shmuel and Ze’ev Safrai, “Beit Anat,” Sinai 40 (1976), 18—34, especially pp 21-22.91 however, we have shown that they are sons of Rabban Gamaliel of Yavneh, who came from Judea to Galilee to visit several places such as Beit Anat, Biri and Kavul.

They encounter the strict practice of the inhabitants of Galilee. Out of respect and politeness, however, they do not tell them that the things the Galileans forbid are permitted, but rather accept upon themselves the strict Galilean practice. During their visit they are received in Kavul by Rabbi Zakkai, who is known to us from one law that is transmitted in his name and from a sermon he delivered at the funeral of the son of one of “the great ones of Kavul” who died during a wedding feast.90Leviticus Rabbah 2:451.

Rabbi Jose ha-Galili

The last on our list is Rabbi Jose ha-Galili, whom scholars commonly assume to have been the only sage to come from Galilee and who was therefore called “ha-Galili,” meaning “of Galilee.” As we have seen, however, he was far from being the only one. His appellation “ha-Galili” may instead be understood to mean that he came from the city of Galil. This was a settlement in Upper Galilee which is mentioned in the list of the markers of the boundaries of the Land of Israel in a baraita, where it appears in its Aramaic form as “the fort of Galila.”91tShevi’it 4:11 (and parallels). The name “Katzra de-Galila” is found in all the parallels in the literature, including in the mosaic floor found in the Beit Shean valley near Tel Rehov. See Y. Sussman, “Ketovet Hilkhatit me-Emek Beit-Shean” (“A Halakhic Inscription from the Beit Shean Valley”), Tarbiz 43 (1973—4), 158. Its name in Arabic is Jalil. It is located about eight miles to the northeast of the village of al-Kabri, which is mentioned before it in the list. This was an especially large settlement during the later Roman period.92An archaeological report of relatively broad scope is to be found in V. Guerin, Description de la Palestine, Galilée (Paris, 1880), vol. 7, part 3, t. 2, p. 157. The main thrust of his comments are cited almost verbatim in the British Survey of Western Palestine, vol. 1 (1981), p. 154. A short report on the site was also written by Tzvi Gitzov, in M. Yedayah ed., Ma’aravo shel Galil (“The West of Galilee”; 1961), p. 53. A more comprehensive description was written by Tzvi Ilan: “Hurvat Galil — Zihuyah u-Mimtza’eha” (“The Ruins of Galil — Its Identification and Finds”), in M. Yedayah ed., Kadmoniyot ha-Galil ha-Ma’aravi (“Antiquities of Western Galilee”; Haifa, 1986), pp. 516-520. Even during later periods when Galilee was the center of Judaism and of Torah study, there were sages who were named after the city of Galil. See jShabbat 3:6a; bShabbat 46a; jBerakhot 3:6a; et al.

He is, however, the Galilean sage from the Yavneh period who is mentioned the most often in tannaitic literature, and is frequently mentioned in the meetings of the “premier speakers” during the Yavneh period, whether in Yavneh or in Lod. He is also mentioned extensively regarding his teaching in Galilee and his meetings with people in Galilee, just as he cites teachings by sages from Galilee and vice versa.93mAvodah Zarah 3:5; tGittin 7 (9):1; tMiqwaot 7:11; tOrlah 1:8; bMoed Qatan 28b; et al. From the extensive and fine literary material on Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s first appearance in Yavneh, it is clear that by then he was already an outstanding sage who astounded the sages of Yavneh with his knowledge and sharpness.94Sifrei Numbers 118:141. In his commentary on Is. 8:14, Jerome includes Rabbi Jose ha-Galili in his short list of the greatest Tannaim. See A. Geiger, “Uber Judentum und Christentum,” Jüdische Zeitschrift 5 (1867), 273.

The Mishnah discusses whether poultry is prohibited with milk (Hullin 8:1,4). Beit Shammai are among the lenient and allow that poultry may be brought to the table together with cheese. Rabbi Jose ha-Galili is still more lenient, holding that it may even be eaten together with cheese.95Regarding this issue, see bHullin 116a. Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s opinion is also held by a sage named Apikulos in tHullin 8:2 (he is not mentioned elsewhere in our literature). The Babylonian Talmud, commenting on this issue,96bHullin 116a; Yevamot 14a. relates that in Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s home they would “eat the meat of poultry in milk.” It adds that Levi, the disciple of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, stated that in Babylonia he came to the home of a well-known person where he was served poultry in milk. When asked by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi why he had not excommunicated them for this disregard of the law, Levi explained that this was the home of Rabbi Judah ben Batyra, whom he assumed to be following the opinion of Rabbi Jose ha-Galili.

We may draw several conclusions from this story. Rabbi Jose ha-Galili had influence and standing, for in his home they ruled and practiced in accordance with his opinion. The well-known Babylonian sage Rabbi Judah ben Batyra apparently also instituted Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s practices in his home. We also learn that “ha-Galili” indeed does not mean a Galilean, but rather is a reference to a specific location as suggested above. If it had been the general practice in Galilee to eat poultry with milk, Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi would not have wondered at Levi’s not having excommunicated them for such a practice, especially since Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi was born and was active in Galilee. “HaGalili” therefore refers to a specific place in Galilee; it is possible that during the time of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (approximately 100 years after Rabbi Jose haGalili), this local practice had already vanished.

Had the eating of poultry with milk been a general Galilean practice, it would have been reflected more extensively in the literature, and it need not have vanished by the time of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. But the local practice of the city of Galil, lying at the end of the northern boundary of Upper Galilee, could have more quickly been forgotten or almost forgotten with the spread of the law in accordance with Beit Hillel at the end of the Yavneh period.97See S. Safrai, “Ha-Hakhra’ah ke-Veit Hillel” (“The Decision in Accordance with Beit Hillel”), in Proceedings of the Seventh World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 27-44. Beit Hillel held that poultry may not even be brought to the table together with cheese.98mHullin 5:1; mEduyot 5:2.

Nor should sweeping conclusions be drawn from the expression “foolish Galilean” which Beruriah applied to Rabbi Jose ha-Galili when he spoke excessively in her presence.99bEruvin 53b. Even if this expression is a denigration applied to Galilee as a whole,100In the same passage in bEruvin 53b. It should be mentioned once again that the expression “foolish Galilean,” in its Aramaic form, was applied to a merchant who came to sell his wares in Judea and said “amar to someone.” It was not clear whether he meant hamar (for in the Galilean accent there was no distinction between the letter het and the letter alef for drinking (wine), or hamar (ass) for riding; or amar (with the initial letter ayin, wool). It is possible that the later passage used Beruriah’s expression, but it is also possible that this was an expression in general use. We can learn nothing from this, because the lack of differentiation between the letters alef, ayin and het is not enought to prove a poor cultural state (see below). See Y.N. Epstein, Mavo le-Nusah ha-Mishnah (“Introduction to the Text of the Mishnah”; Jerusalem, 1948), part 1, pp. 183-185. we cannot draw conclusions regarding the Jewish cultural reality of Galilee. First, it must be stated that Beruriah herself was a Galilean. Second, even if we infer that this was an idiomatic expression, it is not of great significance, for in all cultures and among all peoples the inhabitants of certain regions show habitual scorn for the inhabitants of others. We cannot learn from such appellations about the real characteristics of their targets, and certainly not when all the historical facts prove the opposite.

Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s contemporaries, including central figures of the Oral Torah such as Rabbi Akiva, speak extensively of and are impressed by his sharpness and wisdom. He is also to be found in the most important gatherings of the sages of Yavneh in which basic elements of tannaitic thought were formulated.101Sifrei Deuteronomy 41:85. See notes 90-91 above. Thus he was certainly no “fool,” even if the question he put to Beruriah could, in her opinion, have been stated in a more concise manner.

Summary

The above list of sages is not complete. Others could be added, either with complete certainty or as a reasonable possibility. When we compiled102With the assistance of my son Ze’ev. a list of the sages known to us from the first century until the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt, noting alongside each one his place of origin or activity (when there is mention of it in the sources), it became clear that if Jerusalem is excluded, most of the sages about whom there is evidence of their origin and activity either were Galileans or were especially active in Galilee.

Notes   [ + ]

1. mShabbat 16:7; 22:3.
2. See Alon, loc. cit., pp. 53-71, and his articles “Halikhato shel Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai le-Yavneh” (“Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s Going to Yavneh”); “Nesiuto shel Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai” (“Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai’s Term as Nasi”), in Mehkarim be-Toledot Yisrael (“Studies in Jewish History”; Tel Aviv, 1957), vol. 1, pp. 219-273.
3. See especially Genesis Rabbah 6:84.
4. Mt. 15:1; Mk. 3:22, 7:1; Lk. 5:17.
5. The 18 years stated by the Amora Ulla (see below) is not necessary an exact number.
6. See the mishnaic references in note 3. It becomes clear in bShabbat 121b that the sages who permitted this, and the pietists who were not pleased by it, disagreed on this issue. See below.
7. When, during the period following the destruction of the Second Temple, a person wished to say that he had sinned, he would write on his board: “Ishmael ben Elisha trimmed the lamp on the Sabbath, when the Temple shall be rebuilt he shall bring a hatat (sin-offering)” (tShabbat 1:13, and the parallels in the Talmuds).
8. jShabbat l6:15d.
9. See especially Sifrei Deuteronomy 357:425-427.
10. jPesahim 5:32a. A similar passage also appears in bPesahim 62b.
11. jSanhedrin 1:18c.
12. See, e.g., jEruvin 6:23c; bHullin 132b; Pesiqta Rabbati 29 (138b); and many other passages.
13. jTa’anit 4:69b; jMoed Katan 3:82d; jShevi’it 5:35d; and many other passages. See S. Lieberman, Sifrei Zuta (New York, 1968), especially pp. 92-94.
14. jTa’anit 3:66c.
15. bShabbat 121b; see S. Safrai, “Teaching of Pietistics in Mishnaic Literature,” Journal of Jewish Studies 16 (1965), 15-33.
16. mAvot 2:5. See S. Safrai, “Hasidim we-Anshei Ma’aseh” (“Pietists and Miracle-Workers”), Zion 50 (1985), 152-154. Regarding Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, see Avot deRabbi Nathan, A:12 (28b), B:27 (40b). See Safrai, ibid., pp. 132-136.
17. mTa’anit 2:5; see also tTa’anit 2:13; bTa’anit 16b; bRosh Ha-Shanah 27a.
18. tShabbat 13:2; bShabbat 115a. jShabbat 16:15c brings the event involving Rabban Gamaliel the Elder at the Temple Mount without the narrative regarding Rabbi Halafta’s visit to Tiberias.
19. tMa’aser Sheni 1:13; tBava Batra 2:6 (= bBava Batra 56b), tAhilot 5:7; tKelim Bava Metzia 1:5.
20. He lived until the time of Rabbi Judah the Nasi, all of the traditions regarding whom are after the time of the revolt. See tSukkah 2:2; jSanhedrin 7:24b.
21. Thus the Commentary by Rabbi Simeon of Sens on the Mishnah 22:9 and in Yehusei Tannaim we-Amoraim, s.v. Haggai (Maimon ed., p. 234) and Hutzpit (ibid., p. 441).
22. Thus in Rabbi Simeon of Sens, loc. cit.
23. Thus in Rabbi Simeon of Sens, loc. cit.
24. tKelim Bava Batra 2:2.
25. See Alon, op. cit., p. 262.
26. See note 19 above.
27. bSanhedrin 32b.
28. tMiqwaot 6:3.
29. tKelim Bava Metzia 1:6 and Bava Qamma 4:17; bPesahim 62b.
30. According to the traditions in the Babylonian Talmud, Beruriah was the wife of Rabbi Meir; however, there is no allusion to this in the Jerusalem Talmud. Beruriah was years older than Rabbi Meir, who was active mainly after the revolt. See S. Safrai, Eretz Yisrael we-Hakhameha (“The Land of Israel and Its Sages”; Tel Aviv, 1984), p. 179.
31. See Lamentations Rabbah 13:10; Semahot 12:13, 199-200; see also Alon, op. cit., vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 1-2.
32. jBerakhot 4:7d; bBerakhot 27b-28a.
33. Sixteen according to the Jerusalem Talmud, and eighteen according to the Babylonian Talmud.
34. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, tract. 1 of pasha, sect. 16:59.
35. jBerakhot 1:3d.
36. See bBekhorot 53b; bShabbat 54b. Rabbenu Tam discussed this contradiction in bShabbat 54b, capt. Hayah Ma’aseh. The “contradiction” came into existence only because Rabbenu Tam interpreted literally the statement that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was eighteen years old at the time of his appointment in place of Rabban Gamaliel.
37. bMegillah 26a. The wording “Rav Eleazar ben Azariah” appears in all the MSS; in the commentary of Rabbenu Hananel in Ravayah, part 2, para. 590, 316; in Or Zaro’a, part 2, para. 385 (79c); in Meiri, ad. loc.; in Teshuvot Maharam mi-Rotenburg, Crimona, para. 165; in tMegillah 2(3):17. In jMegillah 3:71d Rabbi Judah transmits that Rabbi Eleazar ben Rabbi Zadok purchased a synagogue of Alexandrians in Jerusalem. It is possible that this is a different version of the same tradition, or perhaps two different traditions. The same difficulty which was perceived by Rabbeinu Tam was also perceived by Lieberman, who proposed a forced answer (Tosefta Ki-Fshutah: Moed, p. 1162). He also was forced into this difficulty only because he accepted as historical fact the legend that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed at the age of sixteen or eighteen.
38. Genesis Rabbah 17:152-154; Leviticus Rabbah 34:802-806; jKetuvot 11:34b. The narrative in the Jerusalem Talmud is related concisely, while Genesis Rabbah contains two versions, one long and the other short. This narrative is alluded to by the author of Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 25 (Friedmann ed., p. 139, as the editor saw, n. 30 there).
39. mSotah 9:15; tSotah 15:3; bBerakhot 57b; bKiddushin 49b; bShabbat 54b.
40. jYevamot 1:3b. The tradition regarding his appointment in place of the deposed Rabban Gamaliel stresses that he attained this because of his lineage (Jerusalem Talmud) and his wisdom and his wealth (Babylonian Talmud).
41. tSotah 7:10 (and parallels); Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A: 18 (33b); et al.
42. mMa’aser Sheni 5:9; bSukkah 4lb; tBetzah 2:12; Sifrei Numbers 43:94; et al. See also S. Safrai, “Biqqureihem shel Hakhmei Yavneh be-Roma,” Studies in the History of the Jews of Italy in Memory of U.S. Nahon (Jerusalem, 1978), pp. 151-167.
43. Sifrei, ibid., 75; bMakkot 24a; Lamentations Rabbah 5:159
44. bYevamot 16a.
45. tYoma 1:12, also 1:4; Sifrei Numbers 141:222; jYoma 2:39d; bYoma 23a.
46. bGittin 56b; Lamentations Rabbah 1:68. According to the Babylonian Talmud, he fasted for forty years so that Jerusalem would not be destroyed. It is stated in Lamentations Rabbah, according to the printed versions, that Vespasian asked Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai why he arose before “this shrivelled old man.” This is the source of the prevalent opinion that Rabbi Zadok was very advanced in years at the time of the destruction of the Temple. In order to match this fact with the other traditions regarding Rabbi Zadok, two “Rabbi Zadoks” were created, a grandfather and a grandson. But there is not necessarily a chronological difficulty. Even if we were to receive as historical the tradition which transmits that Rabbi Zadok fasted for forty years, there is no justification to our accepting as fact that he actually fasted for forty years, for “forty years” is a round number which appears in many places — that is, if he had fasted for only five years or less, the tradition would have related that he had fasted for forty years. Regarding the “shrivelled old man (sabba tzurata),” the word sabba (old man) does not appear in the Buber edition, nor in He-Arukh, s.v. Tzaitor (vol. 3, p. 15). Lamentations Rabbah does not state that he fasted for forty years, only that he was shrivelled from the fasts.
47. tSanhedrin 8:1; jSanhedrin 1:19c.
48. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Yitro, tractate of Amalek, 1:195; Sifrei Deuteronomy 38:24; bKiddushin 32b. See also bPesahim 37a and 49a.
49. tSukkah 2:3; tEduyot 2:2; bYevamot 15b.
50. tNiddah 4:3-4. See mEduyot 8:4; tEduyot 3:3; tArakhin 11:2.
51. mMakhshirin 1:3, and the interpretation of halikopri: a metal merchant (χαλκωπώλης
52. See mEduyot 8:4; tEduyot 3:3; tArakhin 11:2.
53. Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai also was in Galilee on his missions. See Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:12 (28b) and B:13 (ibid.).
54. tBetzah 3:8; jBetzah 3:62b.
55. tMegillah 3(4): 15; Semahot 12:5; bSukkah 41a; bPesahim 116a; bBava Batra 14a; bMenahot 40a. He is the sage who spoke most extensively about Jerusalem and the Temple.
56. tMegillah 2(3):17; jMegillah 3:ld.
57. tKetuvot 5:10; jKetuvot 5:30c; bKetuvot 67a; Lamentations Rabbah 1 (43b); Pesiqta Rabbati 29 (140a). The city of Acre is not mentioned in all the parallels.
58. tHagigah 2:3; jHagigah 2:77b-c; bHagigah 15a-b; Ruth Rabbah 6; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.
59. Thus in the Jerusalem Talmud and in Ruth Rabbah, Kohelet Zuta 135 and Yalqut Makhiri on Psalms 90:84.
60. In MS Oxford 164. See the edition by M.B. Lemer (dissertation, Hebrew University, 1971), vol. 2, p. 174, and the notes, vol. 3, p. 6l.
61. bMoed Katan 20a; bNazir 44a; Semahot 12, 2:194.
62. Thus in the baraita in bNazir.
63. This interpretation was already offered by Rabbi Jacob Emden in his annotations on bMoed Katan 20a, and by many scholars after him. They raised this only because they followed the version in Babylonian Talmud, understanding it literally. According to this it follows that he already was very old during the time of the Temple. As we have clarified, however, there is no basis for this determination. See note 48 above.
64. We can learn of Elisha ben Avuyah’s uniqueness from his aggadic dicta (Avot 4:20; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:24 and B:34), and from the fact that one of the outstanding sages, Rabbi Meir, a central figure in the Mishnah, remained loyal to Elisha ben Avuyah even after he “went forth from his world.” See the sources listed in note 60.
65. jBerakhot 4:7c-d; bBerakhot 27b-28a; see also bBekhorot 36a.
66. bAvodah Zarah 18a.
67. bYevamot 96b; jSheqalim 2:47a. The Jerusalem Talmud does not mention Tiberias, but rather the synagogue of the Tarsians. This refers, however, to the mishnaic statement in Eruvin, in which Tiberias is mentioned. We may possibly conclude that this refers to a synagogue of Tarsians (after the name of the city Tarsus, or after the profession — artistic weavers) in Tiberias. The passage in the Jerusalem Talmud does not mention the name of the city Tiberias because the incident in which the tradition is placed took place in Tiberias in a conversation among Rabbi Elhanan, Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat, Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Assi, all of whom were Tiberian sages in the second half of the third century. They therefore mentioned only that this occurred in the synagogue of the Tarsians. The Jerusalem Talmud version is also found in Yalqut Makhiri on Psalm 6l:3 (156a).
68. Thus according to the emendation of the text in the two Talmuds.
69. Tanhuma, wa-yishalah 8 (Buber ed., 83b). This tradition is to be found also in bSanhedrin 98a, but the latter source does not explicitly mention the name of the city Tiberias. We copy from the more complete version in Yalqut Makhiri on Obadiah, published by M. Gaster in Revue des Etudes Juives 25 (1892), 63-64. We find in the MSS that the passage is taken from Tanhuma. It was reprinted in Yalqut Makhiri, published by A.W. Greenup (London, 1909), p. 4.
70. Song of Songs Rabbah 2; Semahot 11, 4:188; tMegillah 2:8; et al.
71. tPeah 3:2; bPesahim 38b; et al.
72. tZevahim 2:16-17; bMenahot 18a.
73. tSukkah 2:1 and parallels in the Talmuds.
74. tPesahim 2 (1):15; jAvodah Zarah 1:40a; bEruvin 64b.
75. Sifrei Deuteronomy 16:26 (see note by Finkelstein, ibid.); bEruvin 4la; Sifrei Deuteronomy 1:4; et al.
76. tOrlah 3:8; bKiddushin 39a; tKelim Bava Qamma 6:3; et al.
77. See above and note 21.
78. tTerumah 7:14; tSukkah 2:2. Regarding the formulation, see S. Safrai, “Beit Shearim baSifrut ha-Talmudit” (“Beit Shearim in the Talmudic Literature”), Eretz Yisrael 5 (1959), 208 and n. 17.
79. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, ba-hodesh 2:210; Avot de-Rabbi Nathan A:32 (47a); et al.
80. bAvodah Zarah 17b.
81. Tanhuma, masei 1 (Buber ed., 81a).
82. Thus in the printed editions. This is also what may be assumed from the issue itself, for the question is when may a person who is persecuted by the non-Jews desecrate the Sabbath: the answer is that he mav flee, and mention is made of the narrative regarding Rabbi Eleazar ben Parta, who hinted to them to flee.
83. jGittin 7.48d.
84. See Büchler, p. 200.
85. jSotah 1:16c; tGittin 5(7):4.
86. jShabbat l:5d; bShabbat 123a; bEruvin 71b; Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, shirah 1:119.
87. Tractate Derekh Eretz 1. In the Higger edition of the Tosefta, Derekh Eretz 3:267. Büchler, ibid., erroneously joined this to Rabbi Eliezer ben Tadai. Regarding the exchange Teradyon-Tadion—Taddai, see Y. M. Epstein, “Perurim Talmudiyim” (“Talmudic Crumbs”), Tarbiz 3 (1932), 111.
88. See below.
89. See Shmuel and Ze’ev Safrai, “Beit Anat,” Sinai 40 (1976), 18—34, especially pp 21-22.
90. Leviticus Rabbah 2:451.
91. tShevi’it 4:11 (and parallels). The name “Katzra de-Galila” is found in all the parallels in the literature, including in the mosaic floor found in the Beit Shean valley near Tel Rehov. See Y. Sussman, “Ketovet Hilkhatit me-Emek Beit-Shean” (“A Halakhic Inscription from the Beit Shean Valley”), Tarbiz 43 (1973—4), 158.
92. An archaeological report of relatively broad scope is to be found in V. Guerin, Description de la Palestine, Galilée (Paris, 1880), vol. 7, part 3, t. 2, p. 157. The main thrust of his comments are cited almost verbatim in the British Survey of Western Palestine, vol. 1 (1981), p. 154. A short report on the site was also written by Tzvi Gitzov, in M. Yedayah ed., Ma’aravo shel Galil (“The West of Galilee”; 1961), p. 53. A more comprehensive description was written by Tzvi Ilan: “Hurvat Galil — Zihuyah u-Mimtza’eha” (“The Ruins of Galil — Its Identification and Finds”), in M. Yedayah ed., Kadmoniyot ha-Galil ha-Ma’aravi (“Antiquities of Western Galilee”; Haifa, 1986), pp. 516-520. Even during later periods when Galilee was the center of Judaism and of Torah study, there were sages who were named after the city of Galil. See jShabbat 3:6a; bShabbat 46a; jBerakhot 3:6a; et al.
93. mAvodah Zarah 3:5; tGittin 7 (9):1; tMiqwaot 7:11; tOrlah 1:8; bMoed Qatan 28b; et al.
94. Sifrei Numbers 118:141. In his commentary on Is. 8:14, Jerome includes Rabbi Jose ha-Galili in his short list of the greatest Tannaim. See A. Geiger, “Uber Judentum und Christentum,” Jüdische Zeitschrift 5 (1867), 273.
95. Regarding this issue, see bHullin 116a. Rabbi Jose ha-Galili’s opinion is also held by a sage named Apikulos in tHullin 8:2 (he is not mentioned elsewhere in our literature).
96. bHullin 116a; Yevamot 14a.
97. See S. Safrai, “Ha-Hakhra’ah ke-Veit Hillel” (“The Decision in Accordance with Beit Hillel”), in Proceedings of the Seventh World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 27-44.
98. mHullin 5:1; mEduyot 5:2.
99. bEruvin 53b.
100. In the same passage in bEruvin 53b. It should be mentioned once again that the expression “foolish Galilean,” in its Aramaic form, was applied to a merchant who came to sell his wares in Judea and said “amar to someone.” It was not clear whether he meant hamar (for in the Galilean accent there was no distinction between the letter het and the letter alef for drinking (wine), or hamar (ass) for riding; or amar (with the initial letter ayin, wool). It is possible that the later passage used Beruriah’s expression, but it is also possible that this was an expression in general use. We can learn nothing from this, because the lack of differentiation between the letters alef, ayin and het is not enought to prove a poor cultural state (see below). See Y.N. Epstein, Mavo le-Nusah ha-Mishnah (“Introduction to the Text of the Mishnah”; Jerusalem, 1948), part 1, pp. 183-185.
101. Sifrei Deuteronomy 41:85. See notes 90-91 above.
102. With the assistance of my son Ze’ev.

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