Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kamtza and Bar Kamtza revisited : an indictment

Many people know the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza in the Talmud (Gittin 55b-56a). Traditionally, it is taught that it was sinat chinam, baseless hatred, as exhibited by these two individuals that lead to the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. However, if you actually read the text, there is a debate between the Rabbis and R. Zechariah b. Abkulas:
The Rabbis were inclined to offer it in order not to offend the Government. Said R. Zechariah b. Abkulas to them: People will say that blemished animals are offered on the altar. They then proposed to kill Bar Kamza so that he should not go and inform against them, but R. Zechariah b. Abkulas said to them, Is one who makes a blemish on consecrated animals to be put to death?
The last word is given to R. Yochanan who utters the following phrase:
אמר רבי יוחנן ענוותנותו של רבי זכריה בן אבקולס החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו מארצנו. Through the scrupulousness of R. Zechariah b. Abkulas our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt and we ourselves exiled from our land.

8 Comments:

Blogger collegejews said...

You should check out the Tosefta. That refrain "avonoteinu . .." is repeated in an entirely different context where Hillel and Shammai disagree, and R' Zechariah is fickle, unwilling to take action.

October 10, 2007 8:55 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

scrupulousness is not a good translation. Anav means 'humble', I think, but I think it means meek here, afraid to make a stand. SO I agree with CJ.

October 10, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I always liked to translate 'anvanut' as 'condescension' in the good connotation way, based on the expression 'whenever you see the greatness of G-d, there you see His anvanut' and bringing as proofs "ha-magbihi lashevet, ha-mashpili lirot" and similar verses. Though I'm not sure how that would interact with this story, I don't think the meek translation would work there, nor quite the humility.

October 11, 2007 2:43 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

OK, can I get my correspondents in Israel or Harvard to please consult with an expert so we can nail this important translation?

October 11, 2007 6:54 AM  
Blogger collegejews said...

Alright, I guess I can ask a professor next week.

October 11, 2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger סֵפֶר "Bar Kamtza. 2007" said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 11, 2016 5:17 AM  
Blogger סֵפֶר "Bar Kamtza. 2007" said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 11, 2016 7:30 AM  
Blogger סֵפֶר "Bar Kamtza. 2007" said...

Here were raised intelligent and important questions - but they were asked about the literal meaning (פשט) of the legend - and it makes disaster!

We are MUST DECRYPT the literal meaning of the legends of the Talmud!

Kamtza and Bar Kamtza - who are they really???
The answer is here (in Hebrew):

http://cafe.themarker.com/post/2999984
or:
https://barkamtza2007.blogspot.com/ncr
https://barkamtza2007.wordpress.com

September 11, 2016 7:35 AM  

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