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In Masechet Shabbat 119b, it brings 8 statements saying "Jerusalem was only destroyed because x". Each time, x changes.

How can it say that Jerusalem was only destroyed for one particular thing - 8 times?

  • I thought that it meant that each one would have been sufficient, or that there were different opinions who were arguing. Many drasho-like seforim explain it in other ways – הנער הזה Nov 9 '14 at 17:10
  • With regards to Elisha ben Avuya, there are different opinions what caused him to become a heretic. The Lubavitcher Rebbe (in a footnote to a letter -- Igerot Kodesh vol 1, page 143 -- hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15875&pgnum=176 ) offers that the different opinions aren't arguing, all the reasons happened, and the Rabbis are just discussing which one was the main reason. A similar thing can be said here. – Menachem Nov 9 '14 at 20:33
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The eight statements are from eight different sages. Presumably, as in other places where the g'mara says "A says X, B says Y, etc", they are disagreeing with each other. Sometimes when there are multiple opinions the g'mara reconciles them (A was talking about this specific case where X applies, B was talking about this other case where Y applies, they don't disagree), but here the g'mara doesn't do that. So we are left with eight options.

Alternatively, and this is my own idea, the last of these eight statements (from Raba) says that Jerusalem was destroyed only because men of faith ceased therein. Men of faith ceasing therein would cause the issues raised by the other seven -- desecrating Shabbat, neglecting education of children (by which surely they mean education in torah), not rebuking, despising scholars, and so forth. So each of the first seven identifies an aspect of the problem but its "only" is too narrow, and Raba's "only" covers all the rest too.

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