|David Ben-Gurion's library, Tel Aviv/Ron James|
A Palimpsest of the Middle-East
"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
|The Orontes, Litani, Jordan, Euphrates and Tigris|
The remaining third spread out. And as they spread out, the Rabbis created a different Judaism, a Judaism without military aspirations, but a Judaism with memories of Jerusalem. The move towards Persia represents movement away from nationalism, says Peretz. There was no talk of revolt in the Parthian empire, and life without revolution is more conducive to peaceful existence.
As the rabbis travelled across these zones of influence--from the Greco-Roman coast to the Persian Parthian East, they carried no passports. They relied on personal networks. The loose line of demarcation between Rome and the Parthian empire, says Peretz, drives home the point that Mishna, composed by Hanasi in Zippori is a Greco-Roman document; Gemara, composed in Talmudic centers in Babylonia is a Persian document.
|Bar Kokhba's "Freedom Coins"|
Back to the Birkat Ha-Mazon: the Shape of it Around Four Blessings
On pages 309-315 we read as the rabbis slowly build up and expand the blessing after meals. But it's a mystery, this blessing. As we recall, they started with Deuteronomy 8:10 ("And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.") From there they embellish and expand, without ever writing down a definitive version. And why would they, we realize, . . . these were blessings everyone was saying three times a day.
|Mitzrach plaque, showing the direction |
of East (Jerusalem) in home
"Who is Good and Does Good. . . because Beitar"