Tuesday, November 23, 2010

אַדְמַת קֹדֶשׁ טְבָרְיָה

I was just thinking about Tiberius (again!) recently (as a result of me absetmindedly singing "אוחיל יום" to myself, which is a piyut praising the holiness of that city).

I posted not long ago on Facebook how it's funny that not only did a huge amount of Jews live in places like Tiberius and Sepphoris (Teveria and Tzipori), and not only did a lot of Rabbis live there, but the Mishna and the Palestinian Talmud were both written there. Why is it funny? Because these cities were built by the Romans and were centers of commerce and commercialism. Jesus himself speaks of how he always found those distant Roman cities to be daunting in their corruption. My message on Facebook was that Jews really are, as the Nazis said, incorrigible Capitalists and mercantile and bourgeois etc.

But then again, we call Teveria "holy land" and a "holy city", even while the Romans were still there. It seems to give credence to something I once heard from Avigdor Miller: he was kind of anti-Zionist and didn't even believe in Aliyah. He said that, in a sense, every Jewish community was "holy land". Even my native Borough Park or Flatbush. I didn't like that view of things when I heard it, but how is different than Teveria? OK, Teveria is in the Holy Land, as has the Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael like any other part of Eretz Yisrael, but so are places like Tel Aviv. OK, Tel Aviv has Yeshivot and Batei Kneset, but who among us would venture to say that Teveria is a holy city? But we see, again, that because of the presence of people like Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, these cities were in fact seen as holy places...

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