Types of Jewish-Palestinian Piety Page 9...

Original and interesting study of the meaning of piety amoung observant Jews of the late Second Temple period.

JEWISH- PALESTINIAN PIETY 9 only the generation is not worthy of it”, all eyes turned towards Hillel the elder. When he died, they bewailed him thus: ‘ Woe for the humble, the saint, the disciple of Ezra.’ 1 The adjective עניו is well known from the Bible, and is applied to Moses in Num. 12. 3:  ‘ Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.’ Its meaning is taken by the rabbis for granted, and they emphasize that Moses was humble neither in money, nor in physical strength and beauty, but exceedingly humble in character. 2 Hillel’s innate meekness and humility are described in several reports of some incidents in his life; 3 here instead of the biblical ענו its Aramaic equivalent ענוותן is applied to him which, it is true, sometimes means only modest, patient, but in this instance, as a short consideration of some of the characteristic details will show, denotes humility. In Jerusalem, at least in the last years before 70, men and women used to call on the teachers and to ask them questions of practical religious law; 4 and the rabbis were at all times at the caller’s 1 The form of the dirge is biblical ( Jer. 22. 18),  and was, as rabbinic accounts show, several centuries after Hillel still in use in Judaea. From the contrasting of Hillel’s worthiness of the holy spirit with the unworthiness of his contemporaries it appears that his colleagues, con-stituting the authoritative religious body, did not sufficiently appreciate his great qualities and did not think him worthy of the position which he was holding. Perhaps it was at the beginning of his career as the president of the Beth- din, when he had quite accidentally, by answering the practical question about the admissibility of the Passover sacrifice on the Sabbath ( Pesah. 66 a; jer. IV, 33 a; Tos. IV, 1), been elected in the place of the sons of Bethera. These and their fellow members may have objected to the foreign scholar’s presidency of the Beth- din. As a disciple of Ezra he is described as a great scholar who restored the knowledge and the right observance of the Torah. 2 Sifré Num. 101; Sifré zuta on Num. 12. 3; ARN. 9, 21a. 3 Shabb. 30 b ff. 4 Tos. Nid. V, 3; Baraitha b. 33 b bottom, the wife of a Sadducee said to a high- priest, ‘ Though we are Sadducee women, we ask ( about our levitical purity) the ( Pharisee) scholars.’ R. Johanan b. Zakkai in Jerusalem said to a digger of pits, ditches, and caves, who declared himself as important as the teacher by his public work, ‘ If a man came to you with an academic or a practical question, could you tell him to drink of the water? or, if   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

Types of Jewish-Palestinian Piety


About Book Types of Jewish-Palestinian Piety

Front MatterTitle PageCopyright PageContentsPreface. SOME TYPES OF JEWISH-PALESTINIAN PIETY FROM 70 B.C.E. TO 70 C.E.
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