Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Yorzheit of Yehuda Hanasi

Today is the 1791st (or some say the 1792nd) anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (Rabbi Judah the Prince) who redacted and sealed the Mishna in the early 3rd century.

The Mishna Rabbis saved Judaism (some would even say they create Judaism out of Judah-ism) largely by deemphasizing Temple worship and Jewish sovereignty and even the attachment to the land of Israel, and promoting, as the core of Judaism, increased home and synagogue ritual, ethical practice and study. They effectively created a mobile religion that could (and did) survive hundred of years of Diaspora.

The early Zionists, wishing to recreate a link to earlier periods Jewish sovereignty, skipped over 2000 years of Diaspora Jewish experience, and therefore the Mishna (and Talmud) too. Even today's mainstream Religious Zionists (the followers of Rav Kook as opposed to the followers of Rav Reines), by their re-emphasis of Jewish sovereignty, attachment to the land of Israel and even the re-establishment of the Temple, have chosen to ignore the main thrust of the Mishna Rabbis innovation. Too bad.

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Rabbi Yehuda Hansi is so revered, that there are two sites competing for the claim to be his burial site. Above is The Tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi in Beit She'arim.  Below is The Tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi in Tzippori

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