Saturday, July 30, 2005

THE LEGEND OF THE TEN MARTYRS is the subject of what seems to be a very short Hebrew book reviewed in Ha'aretz:
Memories of martyrdom
By Rabbi Israel Meir Lau

"Aseret harugei malkhut bemidrash uvepiyut" (no English title) by Alter Welner, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook Institute, 44 pages


Alter Welner's book "Aseret harugei malkhut bemidrash uvepiyut" deals with the story of the Ten Martyrs and with the way it is expressed in midrash and liturgical poems. The martyrs were Tannaim, who were led by Rabbi Akiva and had fought Roman rule in the Holy Land. Welner understands two things that all of us have understood all these years: First, the "Aileh ezkera" prayer and the Ten Martyrs are directly linked to martyrology, total self-sacrifice and martyrdom in all periods and in all generations. Second, this elegy, which is recited on the two fast days of Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av (on the Ninth of Av, August 14 this year) and which is about individuals who were "cedars of Lebanon and mighty figures in Torah," is about martyrdom irrespective of the time period, and it thus includes the martyrs of the previous generation. The book has three introductions and each of them presents a theme common to both the tale of the Ten Martyrs and the martyrs of every generation.


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