Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tisha B'av and History of the Temples

There is a new book out, Elefh Dor, by Yeruchum Horowitz (2 vol.). This book gathers from hazal and various secular history works to give a complete picture from the Second Temple until the closing of the Mishna. The author does an especially good job of collating and arranging the various sources in a coherent manner.

As it is tisha b'av I will focus on the parts of the book dealing with the destruction of the Temple. As anyone that has read Josephus is aware many of his histories are spread out in various volumes of his books. For example, the destruction of the Temple appears in both the Wars of the Jews as well as Josephus. Horowitz, however, is able to mesh all these sources together. What is also refreshing is that he notes where there are problems with Josephus's recounting of the story. Further, the book contains separate articles that go into greater depth regarding the general veracity of Josephus as well as Josephus the person.

He also has an article on where the Temple vessels currently are. However, on this point he has some inaccuracies. For example, he accepts the well known story about the Hafetz Hayyim that appears in "All for the Boss." This story claims that a farmer in Israel located the temple vessels while digging in his field. He then traveled to America and met with R. Shain who sent a letter to the Hafetz Hayyim. The Hafetz Hayyim "confirmed the man's find by looking in various books." This story is unfortunately, preposterous. Why would the man travel to America from Israel when he could have gone to Rabbis in Israel or Europe. America at the turn of the century was not exactly known for its wealthy of Rabbinic scholars. Second, which books did the Hafetz Hayyim look into to confirm the story. The only books that are really relevant are secular history books dealing with the rise and fall of Rome and where the spoils of Rome went to after that. He also doesn't cite to the most relevant articles on this issue, namely, Hans Lewy, Olomot Nifgashim, 255-58; Abraham Berliner, Divrei yemi hayehudim b'roma, vol. 1 107-110.

Besides for the above issue, this book provides a basic understanding of the periods it covers, and in particular a rather good overview of the history surrounding the destruction of the second Temple.

The book is available at your local bookstore, I purchased it for $28.50 from Beigeleisen Books.

1 comment:

shmuel said...

Sounds interesting. Can I borrow it?

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