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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Week of 17 Iyar

The Great Revolt begins

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even while indulging in the familiar kvetching about national leaders, state officials, and municipal officers, the student of history considers that things could be a lot worse.


Indeed, it's the rule rather than the exception that things have been worse than they are now, especially for the Jews. And even when things seem to have gotten as bad as they can get, they often go from bad to worse to truly rotten.


Two millennia ago, the Jewish nation had endured the malevolent paranoia of Herod for 34 interminable years. After his death, a Jewish delegation to the Roman Senate reported, "Even if a raging beast had reigned over us, the calamity would not have been as enormous as the disasters inflicted upon us during the period of Herod's rule ... [W]hat happened to Judeans in the days of Herod has no likeness and no counterpart." (Josephus)


Herod's successor, Agrippa, offered the Jews of Israel a welcome relief from Herod's violent excesses but, sadly, this respite was not destined to last.


Agrippa was a classically conflicted assimilated Jew. Roman in name, education, and culture, he nevertheless refused to worship pagan gods and mostly refrained from eating non-kosher food. The combination of his descent from Miriam (the beloved Hasmonean princess forced to marry and then murdered by Herod) and his sensitivity for Jewish practice earned him the trust of a Jewish populace deeply suspicious of Roman-appointed rulers.


Agrippa enjoyed an almost universal popularity among the Jews, one that he carefully cultivated and protected. Arriving in Jerusalem just in time for Shavuos holiday, he made his pilgrimage to the Temple alongside the common Jews and carried his offering of first-fruits to into the courtyard upon his own shoulders.


In the end, a Jewish ruler popular with the people, the rabbis, and the Romans seems to have been too good to endure.


After only three years as king of Judea, Agrippa died while visiting the Roman regional capital of Caesaria, presumably poisoned by either Greek or Roman nationals fearful of the rising Jewish influence in occupied Israel.


After Agrippa's death, the emperor Claudius turned governance of Israel over to a series of procurators, or high commissioners. Between the years 44 and 66, seven different officials held this position, each of them exploiting it for his own profit and political gain. There was little order within Jerusalem, while outside the city marauding bandits freely roved the countryside. Roman administrators, soldiers, and foreign residents of Israel eagerly took advantage of the corrupt bureaucratic structure to bleed the land of its resources, and all the better in their eyes if they could humiliate the Jews in the process.


At times, acts of wanton exploitation and desecration by the Romans provoked Jewish uprising, which invariably drew retribution from the Roman army. Typically, this encouraged further acts of insult and injustice against the Jews, inciting further resistance and further countermeasures, perpetuating a vicious circle that made the Jewish populace increasingly bitter, resentful, and desperate.


The final turn for the worse came with the succession of Nero as emperor of Rome in the year 54. Corrupt, cruel, and devoted to the pursuit of personal pleasure, Nero took little interest in the affairs of Israel, thereby allowing the procurators to indulge their greed and ruthlessness unchecked. In response to the cruelty of the Romans, more and more Jews supported the fiercely nationalistic Zealots, who gained influence as they grew in number. On the other extreme, the heretical Sadducees allied themselves with Rome to advance their own political agenda.


But nothing matched the suffering and indignity inflicted upon the Jews by the last of the Roman procurators, Florus, appointed by Nero in the year 64. "Florus boasted publicly about his abominations, acting like a hangman. He did not recoil from any robbery or murder, any evil or corruption ... It was beneath his dignity to rob individuals; he plundered cities and destroyed entire communities. It was as if he had declared that robbery was legal, provided he was given a goodly share of the loot." (Josephus)


At Florus's urging, Nero revoked the right of citizenship of the Jews of Caesaria, leaving them at the mercy of the city's Greek and Roman inhabitants. In the ensuing riots, Florus refused to intervene as Jews were murdered and synagogues desecrated. And when Jewish leaders removed Torah scrolls to save them from being destroyed, Florus ordered them thrown in prison.


On the 16th of the month of Iyar, 3826 (66), Florus arrived in Jerusalem, where he demanded a huge tribute from the Temple treasury. Outraged, a group of young Jews responded by walking through the streets shaking collection tins and calling out, "Charity for Florus!"


Florus reacted predictably, ordering his troops to attack the Jews. The Roman soldiers eagerly obeyed, cutting down Jewish men, women, and children in the streets of Jerusalem, crucifying and whipping captives, and slaying 3,600 in all.


The next day, the Roman soldiers again taunted the Jews, hoping for a pretext to renew their slaughter. Their plan worked, but the Jews mounted a resistance far more ferocious than Florus had anticipated, beating back the astonished Romans and driving them from the city. The Jews had won the first battle of Jerusalem and secured their capital. The Great Revolt had begun.


The following winter, concerned that Jewish resistance threatened the stability of the region, the Roman proconsul in Damascus, Cestius Gallus, led an army toward Jerusalem, destroying smaller Jewish communities along the way. But the Roman assault broke against the fortifications of Jerusalem and, as Gallus retreated, Jewish soldiers attacked his army and killed 6,000 of his men.


The Jewish forces returned to celebrate their victory in Jerusalem. A new Jewish government formed, appointing and dispatching military commanders throughout the country and minting coins carrying the inscription, "Freedom of Zion."


Tragically, the short-lived unity from which sprang the reservoirs of strength that repelled Gallus's army rapidly disintegrated. It was replaced by partisan bickering that ultimately proved a far more devastating enemy than the Roman legions that would soon march against Jerusalem.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

Dedication of new walls of Jerusalem

© 2006, Rabbi Yonason Goldson