Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai
He realized the
futility of resisting the Romans at that time, but that it was possible for
the Jewish People to survive even exiled from its spiritual center,
Jerusalem, and its heart, the Holy Temple and its homeland, the Land of
Israel. That ability was based on the fact that it had in its possession the
Torah, the Law of G-d, that could not be taken
the Roman General, soon-to-be-Emperor, offered to grant him three wishes, he
did not request the salvation of the City nor the Temple, for he realized
that the Romans were too deeply committed to their destruction, and would
never grant him those. He did, however, request that the Romans spare Yavneh,
the new home of the "Sanhedrin," the Jewish Supreme Court, and its
that the study of the Torah and observance of its "Mitzvot,"
Commandments, would allow the Jewish People to continue to exist wherever
they were exiled to in the world, and it would enable them to keep the
memory of the Temple burning in their hearts, so that it would never be
forgotten. When HaShem would have mercy on
His People, and allow them to return to their land, they would be ready.
or "Prince," he made enactments and instituted customs for the
specific purpose of serving as memory-aids for the People, so that they
would never forget what life was like when they had their Temple.
ultimate uncertainty of human life is reflected in the Talmudic account that
upon his deathbed, he wept and said, "I don't know on what road I will
be taken." For even though history seems to have strongly corroborated
the truth of his analysis, he was never absolutely certain that he had not
erred by not requesting it all - the salvation of the Temple and
He was a
descendant of the House of David and his family has kept alive through the
ages the hope of the People of Israel for the arrival of their Anointed
King, the Mashiach, may he arrive soon, and in
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.