Simeon (or Shimon) ben Gamaliel II (Hebrew: רבן שמעון בן גמליאל השני‎) was a Tanna of the third generation and president of the Great Sanhedrin. He was the son of Gamaliel II.

Biography

Simeon was a youth in Betar when the Bar Kokhba revolt broke out, but when that fortress was taken by the Romans he managed to escape the massacre.[1][2][3][4] On the restoration of the college at Usha, Simeon was elected its president,[5] this dignity being bestowed upon him not only because he was a descendant of the house of Hillel, but in recognition of his personal worth and influence.

There were many children in his family, one-half of whom were instructed in the Torah, and the other half in Greek philosophy.[1][2][3] Simeon himself seems to have been trained in Greek philosophy;[6] this probably accounting for his declaring later that the Scriptures might be written only in the original text and in Greek.[7][8][9] Simeon appears to have studied natural science as well, for some of his sayings betray a scientific knowledge of the nature of plants and animals, while others concern the anatomy of the human body and the means of avoiding or of curing disease.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] It is not known who were his teachers in the Halakah; he transmits sayings of R. Judah bar Ilai,[17] of R. Meir,[18][19][20][21] and of R. Jose bar Ḥalafta.[22][23] The last-named was honored as a teacher by Simeon, who addressed questions to him, and put many of his decisions into practice.[24][22]

During Simeon's patriarchate the Jews were harried by daily persecutions and oppressions. In regard to these Simeon observes: "Our forefathers knew suffering only from a distance, but we have been surrounded by it for so many days, years, and cycles that we are more justified than they in becoming impatient".[25] "Were we, as of yore, to inscribe upon a memorial scroll our sufferings and our occasional deliverances therefrom, we should not find room for all".[26]

Jewish internal affairs were more firmly organized by Simeon ben Gamaliel, and the patriarchate attained under him a degree of honor previously unknown. While formerly only two persons, the nasi and the ab bet din, presided over the college, Simeon established the additional office of "ḥakam", with authority equal to that of the others, appointing Rabbi Meir to the new office. In order, however, to distinguish between the dignity of the patriarchal office and that attaching to the offices of the ab bet din and the ḥakam, Simeon issued an order to the effect that the honors formerly bestowed alike upon the nasi and the ab bet din were henceforth to be reserved for the patriarch (nasi), while minor honors were to be accorded the ab bet din and the ḥakam. By this ruling Simeon incurred the enmity of R. Meir, the ḥakam, and of R. Nathan, the ab bet din.[27] Simeon had made this arrangement, not from personal motives, but in order to increase the authority of the college over which the nasi presided, and to promote due respect for learning. His personal humility is evidenced by his sayings to his son Judah I (Yehuda HaNasi), as well as by the latter's sayings.[28][29]

His traditional burial location is in Kfar Manda in the Lower Galilee.[citation needed]

Teachings

Halakha

Simeon's exceptional skills at rendering halakhic decisions, as also his ability to articulate the standard of Jewish norms and practices, were lauded by Rabbi Johanan, who said of him: “The halakha is in accordance with Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel in all places where he cites [a teaching] in our Mishnah, except in three places: (a) in the matter of a guarantor (B. Bathra 173b), (b) in the matter of the cloak in Sidon (Gittin 74a), and (c) in the matter of bringing final proof (Sanhedrin 31a).”[30]

In halakhic matters Simeon inclined toward lenient interpretation of the laws, and he avoided adding to the difficulties attending their observance. In many instances in which an act, in itself not forbidden by Biblical law, had later been prohibited merely out of fear that it might lead to transgressions, Simeon declared it permissible, saying that "fear should not be admitted as a factor in a decision".[31][32][33][34][35][36][37] Of his halakhic opinions, about 30 relating to the Sabbath regulations and 15 referring to the seventh year have been preserved, in nearly all of which the liberality of views is evident. He always took into consideration the common usage, and he often maintained that the ultimate decision must follow common tradition.[38][39][40] The habits of the individual must also be considered.[41]

In his legal regulations regarding marriage, he made it an invariable rule to protect the rights and the dignity of the wife in preference to those of the husband.[42][43][44] He endeavored to protect the slaves and secure to them certain rights.[45][46][47] He held that the will of the community is more important than the interests and rights of the individual, and the latter must be sacrificed to the former.[48][46] He especially strove to maintain the authority of the magistrates; according to his opinion the decisions of a court of law must be upheld, even though a slight error has been made; otherwise its dignity would suffer.[49]

Simeon's decisions are mostly founded on sound common sense and an intimate acquaintance with the subjects treated, and, with three exceptions,[50][51][52] his views, as set forth in the Mishnah, have been accepted as valid.[53] He often cites the conditions of the past, which he learned probably from the traditions of his house, and which are highly important for the knowledge of older customs and habits. He speaks of the earlier festive celebrations in Jerusalem on the Fifteenth of Ab and on the Day of Atonement;[54] of the customs followed there at meals when guests were present;[55] of the work on the pools of Siloah;[56] of the nature of the marriage contract[57] and the bill of divorce.[58]

Aggadah

Simeon praised the Samaritans for observing more strictly than did the Israelites such commandments of the Torah as they recognized.[59] The Bible is in many places to be understood figuratively rather than literally.[60]

Quotes

References

  1. ^ a b Gittin 58a. גיטין נח א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Sotah 49b. סוטה מט ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Bava Kamma 83a. בבא קמא פג א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Yer. Ta'anit 24b. ירושלמי תענית דף כד ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashana 31b, Rashi s.v. ומיבנא לאושא
  6. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, SIMEON (BEN GAMALIEL II.)
  7. ^ Meg. 9b. מגילה ט ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Megillah 1:8. משנה מגילה א ח  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Yerushalmi Megillah (in Hebrew). Venice: Daniel Bomberg. p. 71c. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  10. ^ Berachot 25a. ברכות כה א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Berachot 40a. ברכות מ א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Shabbat 78a. שבת עח א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Shabbat 128b. שבת קכח ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Yebamot 80b. יבמות פ ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Ketubot 59b. כתובות נט ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Ketubot 110b. כתובות קי ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Tosefta, Kelim (in Hebrew). Bava Ḳama 5:4. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  18. ^ Shabbat 15b. שבת טו ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ B. M. 106b. בבא מציעא קו ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Tosefta, Ketubot (in Hebrew). 6:10. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  21. ^ Yerushalmi Ketubot (in Hebrew). 6:7. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  22. ^ a b Tosefta, Dem (in Hebrew). 3:12-14. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  23. ^ Tosefta, Tohorot (in Hebrew). 11:16. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  24. ^ Suk. 26a. סוכה כו א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Shir Hashirim Rabbah (in Hebrew). 3:3. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  26. ^ Shabbat 13b. שבת יג ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ Horayot 13b. הוריות יג ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Bava Metziah 84b. בבא מציעא פד ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Bava Metziah 85a. בבא מציעא פה א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ Babylonian Talmud (Baba Kama 69a; Sanhedrin 31a); Jerusalem Talmud (Baba Bathra 10:8 [33a]; Menahem Meiri, Beit ha-Beḥirah (Baba Kama 69a). Cf. Simeon Kayyara, Sefer Halakhot Gedolot (vol. 3), ed. Ezriel Hildesheimer, Mekize Nirdamim: Jerusalem 1987, s.v. הלכות קצובות דבני מערבא‎, p. 18 (OCLC 11325933)
  31. ^ Shabbat 13a. שבת יג א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Shabbat 40b. שבת מ ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Shabbat 147b. שבת קמז ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ Yoma 77b. יומא עז ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ Bava Metziah 69b. בבא מציעא סט ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  36. ^ Bekhorot 24a. בכורות כד א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  37. ^ Pesachim 10b. פסחים י ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  38. ^ Mishna Ketubot 6:4. משנה כתובות ו ד  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  39. ^ Bava Metziah 7:1. משנה בבא מציעא ז א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  40. ^ Mishna Bava Batra 10:1. משנה בבא בתרא י א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ Ta'anit 30a. תענית ל א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ Ketubot 5:5. משנה כתובות ה ה  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  43. ^ Ketubot 7:9. משנה כתובות ז ט  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  44. ^ Ketubot 13:10. משנה כתובות יג י  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  45. ^ Gittin 12a. גיטין יב א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  46. ^ a b Gittin 37b. גיטין לז ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  47. ^ Gittin 40b. גיטין מ ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  48. ^ Ketubot 52b. כתובות נב ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  49. ^ Ketubot 11:5. משנה כתובות יא ה  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  50. ^ Bava Batra 173b. בבא בתרא קעג ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  51. ^ Gittin 74b. גיטין עד ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  52. ^ Sanh. 31a. סנהדרין לא א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  53. ^ Gittin 75a. גיטין עה א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  54. ^ Ta'anit 4:8. משנה תענית ד ח  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ Tosefta, Berachot. תוספתא ברכות ד  (in Hebrew). 4:9 etc. – via Wikisource.
  56. ^ Arakhin 10b. ערכין י ב  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  57. ^ Tosefta, Sanh (in Hebrew). 7:1. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  58. ^ Tosef., Gittin (in Hebrew). 9:13. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  59. ^ Ḳiddushin 76a. קידושין עו א  (in Hebrew) – via Wikisource.((citation)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  60. ^ Sifre, Deut. 25, Friedmann (ed.). Sifre (in Hebrew). Vienna. p. 70a. OCLC 233315936. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  61. ^ Pereḳ Ha-shalom Pereḳ Ha-shalom (in Hebrew). Retrieved July 29, 2014.; compare Mal. 2:6
  62. ^ Sifre, Deut. 16, Friedmann (ed.). Sifre (in Hebrew). Vienna. p. 68b. OCLC 233315936. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  63. ^ Jerusalem Talmud Shekalim 2:5; Genesis Rabbah 82:10
  64. ^ Midrash Rabba (Kohelet Rabba 7:41). Jerusalem.

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography:

Preceded byGamaliel II Nasi ??? - ??? Succeeded byJudah I (c. 165–220)