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Rashbag - Simeon Ben Gamaliel Name Of Two Distinguished Presidents Of

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Resource Type: Article in: English

Age 15 - 20

Group Size 1 - 100

Estimated Time: 60 minutes

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SIMEON BEN GAMALIEL Name of two distinguished presidents of

the Sanhedrin in the 1st-2nd centuries CE.

Simeon ben Gamliel I was the son and successor of Gamliel I

(q.v.), who officiated in the period immediately preceding

the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

One of his best-known saying was "I have grown up among

sages all my life and I have found that nothing is better

than silence. What is important is not what you learn but

what you do;' and too much talk leads to sin". He was an

energtic leader and a number of regulations related to the

Temple are attributed to him. It is said that in the

celebrations of the annual Water-Drawing Festival, "he used

to juggle eight lighted torches and not one fell to the

ground." During the Roman siege of Jerusalem he joined the

revolutionary council directing the war against Rome, but

when the Zealots obtained the upper hand among the Jews in

Jerusalem, he unsuccessfully opposed their ascendancy and


Simeon ben Gamaliel II was the son of Gamaliel II (q.v.) and

father of Judah ha-Nasi (q.v.). After the failure of the Bar

Kokhba (q.v.) revolt in 135 CE, he had to spend a long

period in hiding to escape the Roman persecution of the

sages. When the Sanhedrin was restored in Usha in Lower

Galilee, he was elected its president - a tribute both to

his personal qualities and his distinguished descent from

Hillel (q.v.). He worked to ensure the status of the

Sanhedrin and the priority of the Palestinian scholars over

those in Babylonia. His opinions are frequently quoted in

the early rabbinic texts - 100 times in the Mishnah where,

with three exceptions, they are accepted as authoritative.

He warned against imposing restrictions which the public

would find difficult to sustain and insisted that local

customs should be respected.

Among his dicta: "The world rests on three pillars: law,

truth and peace;" "whoever makes peace in his own home is as

though he made peace in all Israel;" and "it is not

necessary to build monuments to the pious - their words are

their monument."

Rappaport, John of Gischala:From Galilee to Jerusalem,

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