Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
1  
"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
    
They do, but the only people today who "side" with the zealots are the so-called Sikrikim of Ramat Bet Shemesh, who named themselves after them. By contrast, by the way, R' Amram Blau (who founded Neturei Karta) contrasted himself with them, siding with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and likening the Zionist police force and military to those who fought against the Roman siege. He also, in the same context, likened Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai to Jeremiah, and the zealots to those who sought to repel the Babylonian invasion. –  Shimon bM Apr 29 '13 at 13:49
1  
@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
show 1 more comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.