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Indecisiveness Is Worse than All

The Tragic Story of Reb Zecharya ben Avkilas Trying to Pacify All Sides

1 hr 57 min

Class Summary:

This class was presented on Sunday, 22 Tamuz, 5777, July 16, 2017, at Ohr Chaim Shul, Monsey, NY.

The Talmud relates a story that occurred during the time of the Second’s Temple destruction in 70 CE, and concludes that it was the humility of the sage Reb Zecharya ben Avkilas that was responsible for the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish exile.

It is an enigmatic and disturbing observation—and the class explores five different perspectives on this Talmudic statement.

In yet another strange comments in the Tosefta we learn that the school of Hillel says that the bones and shells are not muktzeh and you may pick them up on Shabbos and discard them. The school of Shammai on the other hand says that you ought not to lift the bones or shells themselves. Rather, you should remove the entire tablecloth and shake off the bones or peels. The Tosefta states that the Talmudic sage Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkilos would act neither according to the school of Shammai nor according to the school of Hillel. He would turn around and with his tongue he would spit out the bones and shells behind the couch upon which he was sitting. The Tosefta then makes a shocking comment: “Rabbi Yosi said, ‘The humility of Rabbi Zecharya ben Avkilos caused the destruction of the Jerusalem Holy Temple!’”

This seems absurd. How can one suggest that since Rabbi Zecharya did not want to take sides in an argument because of his humility—he caused the destruction of the Temple?!

In April 2003, Aron Ralston was climbing in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah when an 800 pound boulder fell on him and pinned his right arm. Aron lay pinned for nearly four days before he ran out of water and decided he needed to take some serious, and very painful, action. He pulled out his trustworthy pocketknife and amputated his own arm from below the elbow. He survived.

Please leave your comment below!

  • H

    Hindy -5 years ago

    Here is a thought....

    Perhaps Rabbi Zechariah reached a very high level of בטחון! He believed that by acting in accordance with Halacha and refusing the blemished animal to be brought as a korban (an act of מסירת נפש- higher than nature)  Hashem in His mercy would protect the Jews (למעלה מדרך הטבע)!

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  • Y

    yosef -5 years ago


    R. Nissan Mangel in crown heights gave a class and mentioned Nero converting. A college student said' "But Rabbi, I know what the secular sources say, that he went crazy and killed himself!".. R. Mangel said,"I also have a college degree and i will find a good answer for you". After 2 weeks the college student came back to R. Mangel and asked, "hey Rabbi, did you find how to reconcile the discepoancy about Nero between your text and the secular texts??"... "No i havent had time" Replied R. Mangel.     "Well i did my reseaerch and I have the answer you are looking for", said the young college student.

    "You see Rabbi", he continued, "I am studying for a Doctorate degree in a very prominent university and doctoral students are given access to special libraries on campuss that other students dont have access to. So I went to our special library and looked up Nero in the secular history sources there. And guess what, i found, in the no jewish sources that nero DID convert to Judaism and it has been kept secret as it is seen as a disgrace to the secular culture he was from"

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    • Y

      Yosef -5 years ago

      *"non-jewish sources" ☝️ 

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  • S

    SB -6 years ago

    yasher koach!

    very strong clear message. Yasher Koach!

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  • M

    moshe -6 years ago

    One famous Jewish skit has a Jewish foreman if the jury. When asked by the judge for the jury's verdict, he kibittzes with his co-jurors, then the judge gets mad and demands the verdict. The foreman answers "we decided not to get involved!"
    A philosopher once pointed out that in the realm of thought, one can have 3 positions: a believer, an atheist, or an agnostic ("i don't know"); but in the realm of action there are only 2 positions, to do or not to do.

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  • טק

    טל קפלן -6 years ago

    שיעור אדיר!!
    שעתיים של תענוג צרוף ומזוקק!
    הסיום של המאור עיניים ממש מתוק.
    מעניין אם בתורת רבותינו נשיאנו יש על הסיפור הזה איזה חידוש..

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  • R

    rafael -6 years ago

    It is very interesting to note that the great Rambam ( Hilkhot Sanhédrin chapt.10, halakha 6 ) says the things in the opposite way of the formulation of the tractate Sanhedrin 32 : instead of " We begin with the least" , the Rambam writes : " Eïn mat'hilin...min ha gadol." Perhaps, the Gra kept in mind this Rambam....

    The Rav Nathan Wachtfogel ( Lekket Reshimot B’inyanei Bet Hamikdash pp.13-15 ), in his own style, gives a similary explanation of Maharits 'hayout.

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  • KG

    Kayla G. -6 years ago

    Rabbi YY, shlita, in this shiur you have outdone yourself. Crystal clear, i was, Boruch Hashem, with you throughout until the end where i dissolved in a flood of tears.

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Sunday Morning Class/The 3 Weeks

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • July 16, 2017
  • |
  • 22 Tamuz 5777
  • |

Leilu Nishmat Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז"ל 
And in the merit of our partner in Torah Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia שיחיו 

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