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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 23:39

holding back

Written by rebbetzin malkah

art-holdingback"Who are they," he [Herod the Great] said, "who teach, 'From the midst of thy brethren thou shalt set up a king over thee, [stressing the word ‘brethren’]?' The Rabbis!"

He[Herod] therefore arose and killed all the Rabbis, sparing, however, Baba b. Buta, that he might take counsel of him.

He placed on his [Baba b. Buta] head a garland of hedgehog bristles and put out his eyes.

One day he [Herod] came and sat before him and said: "See, Sir, what this wicked slave [Herod] does."

"What do you want me to do to him," replied Baba b. Buta.

He said: "I want you to curse him."

He replied with the verse, "Even in thy thoughts thou shouldst not curse a king."

Said Herod to him: "But this is no king."

He replied: "Even though he be only a rich man, it is written, 'And in thy bedchamber do not curse the rich' and be he no more than a prince, it is written, 'A prince among thy people thou shalt not curse.'"

Said Herod to him: "This applies only to one who acts as one of ‘thy people’, but this man does not act as one of thy people."

He said: "I am afraid of him."

But, said Herod, "There is no one who can go and tell him, since we two are quite alone."

He replied: "For a bird of the heaven shall carry the voice and that which hath wings shall tell the matter."

Herod then said: "I am Herod. Had I known that the Rabbis were so circumspect, l should not have killed them. Now tell me what amends I can make."

He replied: "As you have extinguished the light of the world, [for so the Rabbis are called] as it is written, 'For the commandment is a light and the Torah a lamp',go now and attend to the light of the world [which is the Temple, of which] it is written, 'And all the nations become enlightened by it.'"

Some report that Baba b. Buta answered him thus: "As you have blinded the eye of the world, [for so the Rabbis are called] as it is written, if it be done unwittingly by the eyes of the congregation, go now and attend to the eye of the world, [which is the Temple] as it is written, 'I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes.

Herod replied: "I am afraid of the Government [of Rome]."

He said: "Send an envoy, and let him take a year on the way and stay in Rome a year and take a year coming back, and in the meantime you can pull down the Temple and rebuild it."

He[Herod] did so...    It used to be said: He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building.  --Talmud, Bava Basra, 3a-4b

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