Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Very Boethusian Shavuos

The fact that the Pharisees and the Sadducees disagreed on when Shavuos should be celebrated is well known. To me this disagreement is yet another nail in the coffin of the "unbreakable chain of mesorah" argument. How could Jews disagree on when to celebrate such an important holiday as Shavuos? I mean, it would be like the Republicans and the Democrats disagreeing on when to celebrate Independence Day. If there was a tradition, there should not be an argument at all - everyone would agree on when you start counting. You would not need to rely on "drash", like the Pharasees did, to figure out the date.

But this is not what I want to write about - what I am curious about is how did this theoretical arguement play out in practice during the time when the Temple stood? I mean, I don't think it was possible for the two groups to celebrate the chag on different days in the Temple. So what happened? Was it a situation that when the Pharisees controlled the Sanhedrin, the chag would be celebrated by their calculations, and vice versa when the Sadducees were in charge? Does the fact that most of the Sadducees came from priestly families have anything to do with what happened?

What did the group that was not in power do in those years? Did they acquiesce and celebrate along with their opponents in the spirit of "eilu ve'eilu"? Or did they figure it was better to not celeberate at all than celebrate at the wrong time?


Blogger Baal Habos said...

No one knows? That's a great question. There are similar questions about Tfilin (Rashi VS R"T) and Meah Kolos B'shofar. But I've heard explanations for those. Of course, this too must have an explanation, because it seems to be rooted in real history.

June 11, 2008 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's an easy answer.

think christianity and sabbath.

to make a "Break" with traditional judaism, they moved the day. Think of it as a power play or such.

if moving the sabbath (a day consecrated by god), didn't affect them, why would one think that changing the a holiday (day consecrated by man), would mean much?

unsure if its a good answer, but its an easy one.

quoting wikipedia

"Sadducees rejected the Pharisaic tenet of an oral Torah, and created new interpretations based on a literal understanding of verses. In their personal lives this often meant an excessively stringent lifestyle from a Jewish perspective, as they did away with the oral tradition, and in turn the Pharisaic Jewish understanding of the Torah."

it could very well be that the sadducees created a new interpreation saying that the old one could not be correct. we see this today as well.

June 12, 2008 3:40 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Anonymous, these are indeed very interesting points. The wiki article on the sadducees was very interesting...

June 12, 2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

What makes the question even more interesting is the fact that Sadducees often controlled the priesthood. So I'm not sure that the high priest would necessarily accept a Pharisee Sanhedrin's declaration of the day, which could possibly mean that the special korbanot and the day that the Sanhedrin declared would not coincide. Which is crazy talk,

June 13, 2008 12:38 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Tobie, I was thinking the same thing, hence my sentense "Does the fact that most of the Sadducees came from priestly families have anything to do with what happened?"

June 15, 2008 8:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home