Rabban Gamliel and the Yeshiva of Yavneh: The story of the Yeshiva of
Yavneh and its great teacher.
Since the time of Rabbi Yosei ben Yoezer, the Sanhedrin was headed by a Nasi, a president, whose powers went beyond being a Chief Justice or the leading scholar of the Mesivta, the conclave of scholars, but also included the role of a statesman, the titular spiritual, and often political, leader of the Jewish community. Although the position was originally solely based upon merit, irrespective of lineage, from the time of Hillel, who was descended from king David, the position remained within Hillelís family, creating a quasi royalty. So important was this institution, that one of the requests that Rabban Yochanon ben Zakai made to the emperor Vespasian was the preservation of this house of royalty, the dynasty of Rabban Gamliel I, the elder, the grandson of Hillel. In the period immediately after the destruction of the Temple, the Nasi was the great-great grandson of Hillel, Rabban Gamliel II, of Yavneh. Possessing the traditions of his esteemed forebears, and one of the great scholars in this era of giants, Rabban Gamliel played a crucial role in the post Churban (destruction) era and left us a rich Torah legacy. The story of Rabban Gamliel and his teachings are the topics of this lecture.
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