י׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ד (June 8, 2014)

Rosh HaShana 31a-b: Travels in Exile

At the time of the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish people were sent into exile.

Rav Yehuda bar Idi said that Rabbi Yohanan said: The Divine Presence [the Shekhina] traveled ten journeys, i.e., it left the Temple and Eretz Yisrael in ten stages at the time of the destruction of the First Temple, as derived from verses. And corresponding to them the was exiled in ten stages at the end of the Second Temple period and after the destruction of the Temple, and this is known from tradition.

map of Galilee

The Sanhedrin’s first stop after leaving Jerusalem was the city of Yavne, which was established as a center of Torah study by Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and became most famous under the direction of Rabban Gamliel of Yavne. Throughout its continuing travels, the Sanhedrin was headed by descendants of the family of Hillel.

It appears that the Sanhedrin was moved to Usha in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, where a series of Rabbinic enactments – called takkanot Usha – were established. Under the leadership of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel there was an unsuccessful attempt to return the Sanhedrin to Yavne, but due to the overwhelming devastation in the southern part of the country, they returned to the Galilee, first to Usha and then to Shefaram.

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi first sat in Beit She’arim together with the Sanhedrin, but he was forced to move to Tzippori, which was on a higher altitude, for reasons of health. His son, Rabban Gamliel, settled in Teverya, and the Sanhedrin remained in that city until it was finally dissolved.

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