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 Christianity it is often said that Gamliel was the greatest rabbi of all time. But it seems that he is just being hyped because according to Acts he trained Paul. Do Jews really view him as a great rabbi? I've read a little bit of the Mishnah, so I've seen the story about how he teaches his disciples that one is not to say the Shema on his wedding night. Yet his disciples heard that on one of his wedding nights he did say the Shema so they questioned him on it. And his reply “I am not like other men.” He teaches his disciples that it is a sin to morn the death of a slave, and then when his slave dies, he mourns, and his disciples question him on it, and his answer is “My slave is not like other slaves.” Etc. Basically, the rules he makes apply to everyone but himself. He seems to be presented more as a big hypocrite than a great rabbi.

share|improve this question
1  
"A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people" (Acts 5:34) is not the same as "the greatest rabbi of all time". –  Henry Jan 4 at 21:37
4  
If a rule doesn't apply to one's self, how is one a hypocrite for not keeping it? –  Double AA Jan 4 at 22:52
    
He was instrumental in solidifying the sole authority of the post-temple Sanhedrin. He was too good at it even, and got himself deposed temporarily by the public for being too zealous in this stance. See the mishnah in Rosh Hashana and in the gemarah in the 3rd chapter of berachos. So he was important, but I don't think there is an objective best as far as rabbis go. The 9th ch of gittin has a saying that praises different rabbis for different things. –  Baby Seal Jan 5 at 2:45
    
@DoubleAA, the explanation as to why it doesn't apply to him is weak and groundless. Anyway, that's beside the point. I guess Paul will continue to get a pass as a great Torah scholar since you Jews want to uphold Gamaliel as such a great rabbi. –  david brainerd Jan 5 at 21:09
    
@davidbrainerd What are your qualifications in the realm of Jewish Law that you can meaningfully evaluate his explanation? –  Double AA Jan 22 at 23:08
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Rabbi Gamliel was not the best rabbi of all time. I do not know of any Rabbi who has ever been given that title, except from sub sects of Judaism who might venerate one Rabbi over another. Many Rabbis are given pinnacle accolades, declaring that without them the nation would be lost, or after them there was a great reduction of some kind.

However, being the Nasi of the Sanhederin, Rabbi Gamliel was the post powerful Rabbi while he was Nasi. In fact, there is even a roman law, which says it is forbidden to insult and denegrate the "Nasi" of the Jewish people. (From the book Encylopedia of Talmudic Sages)

However, there were 7 Rabbi Gamliels.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.