There is a general assumption that no one is irreplaceable. Possibly it is true, but nevertheless there are people whose departure creates a pivotal point in the history of a nation, and Antipater’s
murder undoubtedly changed the history of Judea.
The first order of the day, for both Herod and Phasael, was revenging their father’s death. Typically, Phasael wanted to get Malichus, the murderer, by “cunning” as Josephus puts it, while Herod wanted to lead his army against Malichus right away. Herod reluctantly agreed with his brother, because Phasael persuaded him that a civil war could easily erupt as a result of a military
action. So Herod went to Samaria, and occupied himself in straightening the affairs there, while Phasael remained in Jerusalem, attending to his own tasks.
Almost two thousand years before the Earl of Sandwich supposedly invented the Sandwich, and had it named after him, Hillel the Elder was the real inventor. At that time, the Jews were commanded to eat a piece of the meat prepared for the Seder and representing the “Paschal lamb,” which was sacrificed in the Temple. In addition, they had to eat the bitter herbs, to remind them of their troubles in Egypt, and of course the matzah, to remind them of the hastily baked bread they took with them during the Exodus.
Hillel combined the three items, putting the meat and the bitter herbs between pieces of matzah, and ate them together. The reasoning was that life presents us with both good things and bad things, and we must accept them all and treat them positively. So the meat, representing abundance, the bitter herbs, representing the difficulties of life, and the matzah, representing liberation and freedom, should be taken together.
These days we do not have a temple and we don’t sacrifice a lamb there. Instead, we eat the charoset, which is a sweet mix of apples, wine, and nuts to remind us of the good things we all share. So the two thousand years old sandwich is still with us. Happy Passover to anyone who celebrates it, and a wonderful holiday to everyone who celebrates the other spring festivals, be it Easter, the Equinox, or any other holiday I am not familiar with. Spring is here!
Hello everyone! I have very good news. Some of you must have read the work the great talmudic and biblical scholar, Professor Henry J., who is the author of several books that combine impeccable scholarship and a remarkably innovative approach. So much so, that some conservative rabbis say the professor’s views border on iconoclastic blasphemy! However, this is far from the truth. Professor Henry J. also has a doctorate in psychology, and his hobby is to analyze ancient personalities and their behavior, based on his deep knowledge of human nature and of the ancient sources. Incidentally, his name is a pseudonym -- the professor is too modest to reveal his real name.
I had the honor of receiving an e-mail from the professor, who had read some of this blog. He feels that there is much I should be enlightened about regarding the character of Hillel the Elder. He likes Hillel (who wouldn’t?) but he feels that the views about him are more hagiography and blind admiration than need be, and the truth is that he was a very different person from what he appears to be in the legends about him. Here is the professor’s remark about the famous snowy roof legend; I sincerely hope to have more remarks in the future. I quote Professor Henry J.:
One day Hillel wanted to enter the Academy and study. Since he had no money, the guard did not allow him to go inside. Hillel climbed on the roof and leaned over the opening of the chimney. The official, and utterly wrong version, claims that Hillel was willing to lie on the roof in the snow so that he could listen to the sages. The truth is completely different. Hillel went on the roof to block the sunlight so the people inside the Academy could not study. "If I am not studying," he later said to his friend, the student Chavtaliahu Gazit, "no one else is studying."
Even though I truly respect Professor Henry J., I personally find this version very difficult to believe. The wording, indeed, sound exactly like a quote from Hillel, but still... it is complex. So I sincerely hope to hear from readers! Any comment about this subject is welcome, and please feel free to accept or object. The professor and I will both welcome your views. Incidentally, does anyone know anything about the other student, Chavtaliahu Gazit? I could not find a source about him.
Hi everyone. This week there is a new posting on Personal Histories instead of the usual posting for The Golden Rule. It's a wonderful story -- but I must warn you it is strong and perhaps even frightening... Here is the direct link, or just click on the Personal Histories tab. http://ililarbel.weebly.com/4/post/2013/03/the-mother-of-the-dreams.html
The relative peace, fragile as it was, did not last. The trouble began in Rome, and spread to Syria, and from there, to Judea. Julius Caesar was murdered. The event is so well known, there is hardly a need to describe it here, but one of the men involved, Cassius, became extremely important to the affairs in Judea, since unfortunately he did not share Caesar’s good opinion of the country.
The disturbance in Syria was also threatening to Judea. A man named Bassus Caecilius formed a plot against Sextus Caesar, Herod’s great friend, and unfortunately, succeeded in murdering him. He took over some of the Sextus’ army and made himself the ruler of the country. Sextus generals of both infantry and cavalry marched against him, and a terrible war broke over a large part of Syria.