Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The fall of the Temple priesthood in the Talmud

LAST WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: In the Talmud, the Fall of a Priestly Upper Class Is Just Deserts. Biblical examples of righteousness and wickedness show that in Judaism, goodness remains possible and divine.
This anecdote suggests, though obliquely, what an enormous upheaval the destruction of the Temple must have created in Judean society. The priestly hierarchy was large and well-established, constituting the upper class of the nation; now they were suddenly rendered useless, like aristocratic émigrés during the French Revolution. There is even a hint of satisfaction in Yishmael’s words. The Talmud makes no secret of the fact that the priests’ ostentation and hunger for prestige sometimes made them unpopular. The fall of the House of Avtinas must have looked to some people like their just deserts.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.