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In Al Hanissim we mention a Yochanan Kohen Gadol. Since there were several kohanim gedolim named Yochanan which one is this, historically?

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Which what is what? –  WAF Nov 29 '10 at 0:14

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's not so straightforward to assume that the Yochanan Kohen Gadol of (Ve')Al Hanissim is the same one who became a Tzeduki. The Vilna Gaon (Imrei Noam to Berachos 29a) distinguishes them (and Josephus' account supports this): the latter was Matisyahu's grandson; the former is obviously, from the wording of the prayer, Matisyahu's father.

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Yochanan Kohen Gadol served for 80 years and he became a Tzeduki in the end!

Per Abaye: Yanai Ha'Melech was Yochanan Kohen Gadol.

Per Rava: They were different people. Yanai was a Rasha from the beginning, Yochanan was initially a Tzadik.

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