Were Chazal Hellenized?
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Question: Many batei knessiot which I have seen or read about, both in Eretz Yisrael and in the diaspora, from the first century C.E. to the seventh, seem to be plastered with pictures of avoda zara. I don't just mean pictures of biblical scenes (which should not be there either - "kol temuna"), which are very numerous, but pictures of the zodiac, the helios gods, and zeus among other images (such as in Beit Alpha in the Jordan Valley and Dura Europas in Bavel and numerous batei knessiot in the Galil). What is avoda zara doing in places of Jewish worship? Why are these places plastered with pictures of hellenistic gods and ideas prevalent in hellenistic cults at that time? Did he Jews at that time have some sort of pagan syncretic worship? Did the Rabbis have no control over the masses? Did Hazal too believe that such pictures belong in the beit knesset? In general, how hellenized were Hazal? In the excavations of the catacombs in Beit Shearim near Haifa, where it seems sons of R' Yehudah Hanassi are buried, the walls are full of Greek inscriptions as well as pictures of animals and zeus-like heads. How could these pictures find their way to the resting places of the Rabbis?
Response: You are assuming that these images were there at the time of Chazal, and even the works of Chazal. Do you have proof? Couldn't they have been made years later?
Chazal were not Hellenized. Chazal did not follow movements, but followed their minds. This was their sole modus operandi. You must see their writings in Pirkei Avos, aggadita, and on T'nach to derive your estimation of Chazal. Not from circumstance.

Philosophy | Tnach | New Postings | JewishTimes | Audio Archives | Suggested Reading | Live Classes | Search | Letters | Q&A's | Community Action | Volunteer | Links | Education | Chat | Banners | Classifieds | Advertise | Donate | Donors | About Us | Press | Contacts | Home


Mesora website designed by NYDesign.com
© 2003 Mesora of New York, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Articles may be reprinted without permission.