כ״ט בניסן ה׳תשע״ה (April 18, 2015)

Ketubot 75a-b: Children of Zion

The passage in Tehillim (87:5) that is brought by our Gemara states:

“And of Zion it shall be said: ‘This man and this man were born in her, and the Most High shall establish her’.”

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s grandson, Rabbi Meyasha, explains this to mean that not only someone who was born in Jerusalem, but even those who look forward to seeing it, are considered to be bnei Zion – children of Zion (the Land of Israel). The Maharsha explains that this is the uniqueness of the city of Jerusalem. Whereas in other cities only natives – people who are born and raised there – are considered to be of that city, any Jew who looks towards Jerusalem with the desire to be there is considered a ben Zion. At the same time, argues the Shitta Mekubbetzet, as becomes clear from the continuation of the Gemara, there are clear advantages to actually living in Israel and Jerusalem.

Based on this, Abaye said “And one of the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael is superior two of us (Babylonians).” Rava counters by saying that when a Babylonian travels to Israel and studies there, he becomes superior to two people born and raised in Israel. The example of this is Rabbi Yirmeya, who could not follow the discussions in the study hall while he was in Babylon, but upon moving to Israel referred to his peers who remained behind in Babylon as “foolish Babylonians.”

Rabbi Yirmeya moved from Babylon as a young man and studied under the tutelage of the greatest Rabbis in Israel – Rabbi Yohanan’s students Rabbi Zeira and Rabbi Abbahu. Rabbi Yirmeya had a particularly sharp approach to things, and his questions were so pointed that at one point he was expelled from the study hall for a time. It was in this spirit that he referred to his friends in Babylon as “foolish Babylonians,” a statement that appears to have been accepted by them gracefully. Rabbi Yirmeya became one of the greatest Rabbinic figures of his generation, and we find his teachings throughout both the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi, to the extent that in Babylon his statements are referred to simply as amrei be-ma’arava, “they say in the west” (i.e. they teach in Israel).

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