Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two on Shiva Asar B'Tammuz

From Facebook, yesterday:
Tomorrow- tonight, really- is the 17th of Tammuz. One of the tragedies marked on the day is the discontinuation of the Korban Tamid.

Interestingly, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story on this very topic. You can read it at either of these two links. Note that according to the second link, it is actually a parody of a novel popular at the time, which explains its over-the-top language.

The main characters are gizbarim. *I'm* a gizbar. Hee!

One more note: He dates the story to 63 BCE (to Poe, the world was created in 4004 BC, and you can do the math); in other words, to Pompey's siege of Jerusalem which marked the beginning of the end for the Hasmoneans. The Korban Tamid, though, was quickly reinstated and ran until the Churban 133 years later. May it be reinstituted again very soon.



From Facebook, today:

Following up on my post from last night, in light of the news:

Great leaders, it seems, often produce not-so-great offspring. Not usually of an issue in a republic, but in a monarchy...look out. Salome Alexandra (Shlomtziyon, as in the street, Hasmonean queen from 76-67 BCE) was one of the greatest monarchs in Jewish history. As soon as she died, her sons Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II began fighting it out for the crown, violently. Civil war followed, and it became an unholy and bloody mess , with shifting international alliances and support.

Rome was appealed to for support by both sides (not the first time the Hasmoneans had done so- they had enlisted Roman support when fighting the Seleucids in the previous century), and Rome, being Rome, was happy to "help." The war was ended when Pompey, Caesar's partner, marched to Jerusalem in 63 BCE, besieged it, broke through the wall, slaughtered thousands, and installed his preferred candidate.

Of course, this "help" didn't come free: Independent (if it ever truly had been) Judea essentially ceased to exist after only about a century (if that) of existence. A quarter of a century later, Herod, with Roman support, did away with the Hasmoneans altogether, and less than a century after that, the Mikdash was destroyed and the long Galut began.

It's very likely that one of the events marked by today's fast, the discontinuation of the Tamid, actually occurred during Pompey's siege. In that case, perhaps it's not only the lack of two daily lambs we mourn, but the entire chain of events- the real beginning of the end of the Second Commonwealth and Mikdash, and strongly due (as Chazal say) to Sinat Chinam and literal sinat achim.

As to being in thrall to foreign "advice" and "help" and "cease-fires" and "peace plans"...well, especially today, it's often painful (and, yes, often inspiring) to read Jewish (or any) history and notice parallels to our own time.