According to the Maharam M'Rotenberg (explained in this answer) martyrs don't feel the pain of death. How then can we understand these following medrashim?

When R' Chanina ben Tradyoin was being burned alive he requested that they remove the wet towels which were prolonging his death. This would show that he was indeed in pain. In addition, when R' Akiva was being tortured to death with iron combs being raked across his skin, his Talmidim asked him how he could concentrate on the Shema. Again this shows that he was in pain. See Gemara Avodah Zarah 18a and the last page of this pdf version of Kinois. Don't both of these show that they do indeed feel pain?

  • 1
    The answer to that previous post is an excellent answer, but it's not an excellent source. If you look at it in situ, you'll see that it's a truncated snippet from a responsum by the Maharam. Until somebody is able to present the entire responsum, this small section of it is meaningless. Who says that there's necessarily any contradiction at all? Or that the Maharam didn't resolve it himself?
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 11, 2012 at 22:16
  • Could be, but I had heard the question before I knew the Maharam. I had heard it a long time ago without any additions!
    – Yehuda
    Jul 11, 2012 at 22:42
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    Yes, but you didn't hear the question before the Maharam heard it, and "heard it" isn't a source. I'm not voting your question down or anything, I'm just not convinced that there is one until somebody can provide a proper source that demonstrates that there is. A section taken out of context from a responsum that I don't have access to will sit better with me when I've seen the rest of it.
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 11, 2012 at 23:44
  • @ShimonbM each to their own. For me, Mesorah is good enough!
    – Yehuda
    Jul 12, 2012 at 11:00
  • Yehuda I bet @ShimonbM just doesn't think that your having heard something once constitutes a Mesorah. I happen to agree.
    – Double AA
    Jul 12, 2012 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


The kina you're referring to was written to mourn for people who died al kiddush Hashem (I don't think we learn halakha or agadah from kinot). The source in A"Z 18a was written, again, to mourn for martyrs who had already died. We can feel bad for the suffering of those who died and talk about their misery.

The Maharam was writing during horrible pogroms in the 1200s Germany. He may have been writing in part to comfort those whose loved ones died al kiddush Hashem and in part to discourage others from effectively committing suicide. I honestly think that the Maharam realized that were martyrdom glorified, he'd lose everyone in the community since the Germans were happy to kill lots of Jews.

It's the same way that we say that suicides can't be buried, but we exclude everyone who's committed suicide assuming they've repented or were sick.

  • likidush hashem or al kiddush hashem?
    – Double AA
    Jul 12, 2012 at 0:57
  • how does this answer anything?
    – Yehuda
    Jul 12, 2012 at 12:39
  • @Yehuda I guess the summary of this is: Where's the contradiction? The Maharam was making a political/policy statement and the others are telling stories. Neither is being 100% literal. Jul 12, 2012 at 15:02
  • @DoubleAA point taken. and fixed. Jul 12, 2012 at 20:14
  • @CharlesKoppelman I wasn't saying it was wrong. (Maybe it is grammatically, I don't know.) I just never heard it your way.
    – Double AA
    Jul 12, 2012 at 20:23

I would like to suggest that the Maharam is talking about people being thrown in the fire where death is almost instantaneous and is part of the killing. However pain of torture leading up to death is not included in the dying Al Kiddush Hashem (martyrdom) and is therefore painful.

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