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According to the Sefaria translation of Yoma 39b:

The Sages taught: During the tenure of Shimon HaTzaddik, the lot for God always arose in the High Priest’s right hand; after his death, it occurred only occasionally; but during the forty years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, the lot for God did not arise in the High Priest’s right hand at all. So too, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel did not turn white, and the westernmost lamp of the candelabrum did not burn continually. And the doors of the Sanctuary opened by themselves as a sign that they would soon be opened by enemies, until Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai scolded them.

I'm in a debate with a Christian missionary who seems to think that this proves that his dead man was the Messiah. He sees the 40 years as corresponding with the time of his death. So my question is why did these miracles stop 40 years before the destruction of the Temple? Is there some significance to the 40 years? I thought they may correspond to the 40 years in the desert in some way.

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  • Probably relevant: sefaria.org.il/…
    – Joel K
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 13:55
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    Doesn't the forty just provide the mirror of the 40 that he was Kohen Gadol, when these things DID happen (from the braisa on 39a)? This seems to establish a timeline -- 40 years they always happened, then they slowed down, and 40 years they didn't happen.
    – rosends
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 14:00
  • Welcome to Mi Yodea! While it seems that something must have happened to initiate the Sanhedrin to move out, and signal the onset of the Churban, what that specific thing was, cannot be the death of this Christian’s Messia. Tosfos in Sanhedrin 37B clearly says that the Sanhedrin RETURNED for a special session to judge his case, so obviously it was after the 40 years started.
    – Chatzkel
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 14:22
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    The messiah is supposed to make miracles happen rather than stop them! Commented May 29, 2022 at 18:38
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    The missionary is just making an unprovable assertion. Tell him to pound sand.
    – N.T.
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 1:09

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