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12/06/2022 04:14:34 PM


There must be a balance between hope and patience

In many ways the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 168 C.E. should have marked the end of Jewish history. After all, there would be no sovereign state, no Temple, no priesthood, and no power. But the Jewish people thrived in a more spiritual way by inaugurating the era of rabbinic Judaism, away from the fires of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, in 132 to 135 CE the Jews of Judea revolted anew against Rome in what became called the Bar Kochva rebellion. Bar Kochva led the revolt but we know almost nothing about him save that he headed a military campaign. The battles went well until Rome sent in reinforcements, leading to a showdown at the Beitar fortress near Jerusalem.
The revolt was a disaster for the Jews in the number of people killed and its failure to reverse the Roman anti-Jewish policies. It was also a lesson in the danger of following a messianic personality. Bar Kochva’s leadership inspired religious zeal that would lead to political tragedy. It would not be the last time such figures led to death and destruction, but it would damper the messianic spirit. Political activists let loose from normal constraints due to religious zeal results in a lack of stability, control, or accountability: a toxic mix.
Bar Kochva’s folly reminds us that there must be a balance between hope and patience. Or else.

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783