TalmuDigest

For the week ending 21 August 2010 / 10 Elul 5770

Avodah Zarah 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Chronology of the past and the future of the world
  • Dating documents according to the reign of kings
  • Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi (Rebbie) and Emperor Antoninus
  • The heroism of Ketiah bar Shalom and the convert Onkelos
  • Burning beds and other forms of mourning for deceased king
  • Strange special days of idolaters
  • Avoiding any appearance of bowing before idols
  • Dangers in drinking water
  • The decorated shops of the idolaters
  • Doing business with idolaters
  • What may not be sold to idolaters
  • Restriction on selling land or agricultural machinery in shmitah year

Magic of Mother's Milk

  • Avodah Zara 10b

One of the most fascinating relationships in Jewish history is the one between Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi (Rebbie), the head of the Sanhedrin and leader of the Jewish People, and Antoninus, the head of the Roman Empire.

What was there that motivated the mighty emperor to humble himself before the spiritual head of a people who suffered persecution during the reigns of his predecessors?

Tosefot cites a midrash which offers a solution to this mystery. When Rebbie was born there was a Roman ban on circumcision. Upon learning that his parents had defied the ban and had made a brit mila, the emperor summoned Rebbie's mother to appear before him with her circumcised son. Somehow she succeeded in switching her baby with the uncircumcised baby Antoninus whom she nursed before coming before the emperor. This succeeded in saving her life and that of her son, and the mother's milk which Antoninus received from such a saintly source had such an impact on him that when he ascended to the throne he maintained a relationship with Rebbie which culminated in his conversion to Judaism.

What the Sages Say

"Some gain their world-to-come in one hour while others do so only in many years."

  • Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi (Rebbie) - Avodah Zarah 10b

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