Filed under: Rabbi Yuhuda Ha Nassi
After his passing Rabbi Yehuda , who was called Rabbeinu HaKadosh he used to visit his home, wearing Shabbath clothes, every Friday evening at dusk; he would recite Kiddush (Prayer of sanctification for the day), and others would thereby discharge their obligation to hear Kiddush. One Friday night there was a knock at the door. “Sorry,” said the maid, “I can’t let you in just now because Rabbeinu HaKadosh is in the middle of kiddush.” From then on Rabbeinu HaKadosh stopped coming, since he did not want his coming to become public knowledge, as by this others who passed on who were not able to return to this world would be shamed.
We can understand this better in light of what the Ariza’l explains, that angels cannot be seen by ordinary people. However, those possessing a refined soul can see them, because an Nashama (DivineIntellectual Soul) which is in a state of refinement is able to see the soul (the form and extremely refined substance) of the angel. This is the same phenomenon, explains the Arizal, as those who see Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) —it is the same as seeing angels. He explains that what they are seeing is not a created being of this lower world (i.e., a material entity), but rather the “chaluka d’Rabbanan”, the refined “garment” that soul’s of the other world wear. This garment is the same as the garments of Adam in Gan Eden, and corresponds to the “second body” of tzaddikim (Holymen), their Tzelem Elokim “Divine image”, as spoken of in Genesis “So God created man in His own image”
Thus far, it would seem that we are discussing some sort of spiritual body. However, in regards to the incident with “Rabbeinu Hakadosh” recorded in the Gemara, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that Since Rabbeinu Hakadosh was a Nashama (soul) from the world of truth [i.e., he had passed away], how could it be possible that he will make kiddush on physical wine, and not only that, but that he will make others hear kiddush and will satisfy their obligation?!
Since our sages tell us that the dead are not obligated in commandments, we are left with a question about the status of” Rabbeinu Hakadosh”. The dead are not obligated in the commandments, and thus they cannot perform them on behalf of others. Yet in this case Rabbeinu Hakadosh did in fact perform the commandment on behalf of others. The Rebbe resolves this paradox quite simply :
Since he came to his home in a way that the members of his household saw him, and as emphasized in Sefer Chassidim that he would appear in Shabbath clothes, etc., it is understood that at that same time his Nashama descended and dressed in a physical body and was seen to eyes of flesh, so consequently, he is in the category of a soul in a body.
As explained above, the body of “Rabbeinu Hakadosh” after his passing was his “second body”, meaning his Tzelem Elokim, similar to the garments of Adam before the sin. And such a body, which is “close to the level of the Nefesh”, is considered here to be in the category of a physical body. While sadeekem (Holy people) never die as it says “Yaacov never died”. The Zohar explains it is forbidden to inquire of the dead refers to the wicked. The souls of the righteous are never called dead. The Sni Luchot HaBrit teaches that souls of sadeekem are bound up in the domain of eternal life with out dawning any garment that would make them perceivable in this world. Except on rare occasions as mentioned in the Talmud. When they do dress in some kind of garment to make themselves visible. Yaakov avinu (Biblical Jacob) can dress in a garment as Eliyahu (Elijah the Prophet) and appear as humans in this world. Many sages have learned Torah with eliyahu, as is known. !
Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi was born to his father Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel around the year of 3880.
There is an interesting anecdote regarding Rabi Yehudah Hanassi’s birth; like that of Moses, who was rescued by Batya – the daughter of the Israelites’ archenemy Pharaoh, so was Rabi Yehudah Hanassi rescued after his birth by the wife of the Roman Emperor Azureus, who made the lives of the Jews unbearably difficult with his evil decrees.
During the time of birth of Rabi Yehudah Hanassi, the Emperor had forbidden the Jews to circumcise their sons. Whoever was caught transgressing the prohibition – was immediately killed. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, however, sacrificed his life for the sake of the mitzvah (commandment) and took his newborn son to a hiding place, where he circumcised him. The ruler of the city heard about the incident and went to the Emperor to inform on Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel. The Emperor demanded that the father and son be brought before him so that he could see for himself if the rumors were true.
When Rabban Shimon, his wife and their son approached the Emperor, the Empress entered the room and, upon seeing Rabban Shimon’s wife – who was her good friend – she discreetly asked her for the purpose of their arrival. After Rabban Shimon’s wife told the Empress that they were awaiting the Emperor’s verdict, the Empress suggested that they switch babies; for she, too, had a newborn baby. That baby was none other than Antoninus Pius, who was to become the next Emperor and a great friend of Rabi Yehudah Hanassi in the future. Suddenly, before Rabban Shimon could approach the Emperor with ‘his’ newborn, the baby began to cry. Rabban Shimon’s wife gently lifted him up and nursed him. They then approached the Emperor and showed him that the baby was not circumcised. The Roman Emperor was furious that the ruler had falsely informed on Rabban Shimon, and ordered to have him hanged. Rabban Shimon, on the other hand, was compensated by the Emperor by being freed from the decree.
Before his death, the ruler who had informed on Rabban Shimon swore to the Emperor that he had seen the father circumcising his son, and that apparently, the G-d of the Jews made a miracle in order to save them. Our Sages tell us that in the merit of the milk which Antoninus had nursed from the righteous mother of Rabi Yehudah Hanassi, his soul was purified and he later converted to Judasim and became a great friend of Rabi Yehudah Hanassi, with whom he learned Torah together.
The Talmud tells the following story to explain why Rabbi Yehuda the Nasi suffered for thirteen years with kidney stones and scurvy. Indeed, his pain was so great that his cries of pain when he relieved himself were heard far away.
There was once a calf being taken to slaughter. It went and hid its head under Rebbi’s garment and cried. Rebbi said to it: Go! For this you were created. They said [in Heaven]: Since he has no pity, let us bring suffering upon him. The suffering departed because of another incident. One day, Rebbi’s maidservant was sweeping the house. Some weasels had been cast there and she was about to sweep them away. Rebbi told her: Leave them alone. It is written (Psalms 145:9): ‘and His mercy is over all His works.’ They said [in Heaven]: Since he is so compassionate, let us show compassion to him (Bava Metzia 85a).
Rabbeinu HaKadosh was the 7th in line of the Sanhedrin Nasi dynasty heading up to the famous Hillel. He was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the title Nasi, meaning prince. The title Nasi was also used for presidents of the Sanhedrin. (In modern Hebrew, it usually means “President”). As Nasi and head of the Sanhedrin, Judah wielded almost unlimited authority. He reserved for himself the right to appoint judges and teachers throughout the land. Much of his legislative activity was devoted to the application of the laws of the Sabbatical Year and of the levitical Tithes; both weighed heavily on the overwhelmingly agricultural community, plagued as it was by extortionate taxes imposed by the Roman administration and natural disasters like famine.
Judah’s authority was strengthened by his great wealth. He was able to increase the large tracts of land, hereditary in his family, which he farmed intensively, producing corn, wine, and vegetables; he also bred cattle, manufactured wool and linen, and exported and imported commodities in his own ships. Managing his wide-ranging affairs personally, he combined learning, wealth, and political power. In his dying hour he lifted both his hands to Heaven, swearing that he had labored in the study of Torah with all his strength, and that he had not benefited personally by the financial wealth bestowed on him even as much as his little finger.
As the effective leader and spokesman of the Jewish community, Judah was recognized as such by the Roman authorities. The intimate relationship between them is reflected in the numerous accounts about the friendship between “Rabbi Judah” and the Roman ruler “Antoninus,” which constitute one of the great riddles of talmudic and midrashic literature. Not only is there no certainty as to which member of the Antonine dynasty they refer to, but the Rabbi mentioned may be Judah I or his grandson Judah II. The tales describe personal meetings, correspondence, joint business ventures, and even conviviality between these two representative figures.
In the writings of R’ Chayim Vital, z”l, it states that “Rabbeinu Hakadosh” is a Gilgul (incarnation) Jacob (in the Bible) himself. The sages tell us (Kiddushin 72b, Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 944) that before one Tzadik (Holy man) passes away, another one is born – they mention that Rabbeinu HaKadosh was born on the very day that Rabbi Akiva (these two names have the same Gematria as Mishna=395) passed away (following his brutal torture by the Romans) – which was Yom Kippur (day of atonement), of all days. The Talmud tells us that this was a result of Divine Providence: God had granted the Jewish people another leader of great stature to succeed Rabbi Akiva. Interesting to note, the very end of Mishna Yoma – the tractate on Yom Kippur – is the famous statement of Rabbi Akiva that is sung especially on Lag Ba’Omer – “Amar Rabbi Akiva Ashreichem Yisrael” – mentioning that just like a Mikve (ritual bath) purifies the impure, so does HaKadosh Baruch Hu (God) purify the Yisrael (ends with the last word of Yisrael, like it is at the end of the Bible with Moses passing. Both Moses & Rabbi Akiva lived for 120 years. Could it be that Rebbe, the one who put the Mishnah (first writing of the Oral Torah) together, left a allusion to himself in this Mishna taught by Rabbi Akiva whose Passing was on the very same day that Rebbe was born, by calling God at the end at the end of the Mishna “HAKADOSH Baruch Hu” ?
God gave both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah (its explanation) to Moses on Mount Sinai. For centuries, only the Torah appeared as a written text. The Oral Torah was passed down from teacher to student. Fearing that the oral traditions might be forgotten, Judah HaNasi undertook the mission of compiling them in what became known as the Mishna. The Mishna consists of 63 tractates codifying Jewish law, which are the basis of the Talmud. Rabbi Judah’s deep religiosity has found expression in a number of our daily prayers, such as the prayer for protection against arrogance, against bad company, and against a hard law case or litigant.
The Talmud states that when Rebbi died, the traits of humility and fear of sin ceased (Sotah 49a). Apparently, he was such a paragon of those traits that no one could ever again hope to equal him with regard to those attributes.
Rabbeinu HaKadosh passed away where he was at on the 6th day of the week – close to the Holy Sabbath.
Sefer Chassidim Sec. 1129. (Cf. Kesubbos 103a.)