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In Gittin 56a-b, we read how the sages warned the Zealots (a.k.a. the Biryonim) to not wage war with the Romans who were holding Jerusalem under seige, but that the Biryonim set fire to the store houses, making war inevitable. Thereafter, Yochanan ben Zakkai faked his death and negotiated with Vespasian, the Roman General and future Caesar, to spare the city of Yavneh and to spare the line of Nesiim -- the family of Rabban Gamliel. Were the sages united in opposing the Biryonim's tactics? Or were there some well-known rabbanim who were known to have fought and died with the destruction of Jerusalem?

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"Were the sages united in opposing the Biryonim's tactics? Or were there some well-known rabbanim who were known to have fought and died with the destruction of Jerusalem?" The second question is not the negation of the first; willingness to fight if necessary does not imply support for the biryonim. –  Fred Apr 28 '13 at 23:47
    
You realise as well that it is very difficult to answer this question historically, since the only two documents to record this phenomenon are the Talmud and Josephus, and both are ideologically motivated corpora - neither of them records "history" as we understand it today. Josephus's bias is to show that the majority of the Jews and their leaders actually supported dialogue with Rome, and the Talmud's is to support Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and show that the council at Yavne had unanimous rabbinic support. Both biases might be perfectly correct, but how would you know? –  Shimon bM Apr 29 '13 at 1:52
    
@ShimonbM I'm not convinced that it is that difficult. The issue of whether it is a Jewish obligation to hold the Land at all cost, or whether compromises can be met with an enemy, is as much a contemporary issue today as it was 2000 years ago. One would think that those taking sides on the debate today would look back to those days as well. –  Bruce James Apr 29 '13 at 13:22
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@ShimonbM: Goes to show that those who "learn" from history always believe that they are emulating those who had done it correctly the first time. Whether or not they do emulate the historic figures they think they emulate, is another matter. –  Bruce James Apr 29 '13 at 19:34
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I am pretty sure the answer is "Yes," for some value of "well-known rabbanim," but I can't remember any at the moment. –  Shmuel Apr 27 at 10:35

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