[Avodah] Rabbi Akiva's Students' Deaths as Soldiers in Bar Kochba's Army? A thorough critique of the theory

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Sun May 19 11:46:12 PDT 2024

On Tue, May 14, 2024 at 06:24:51PM -0400, Zvi Lampel via Avodah wrote:
>> The idea that the Y-mi's "iskarah" wasn't a lung disease (askara) but the
>> type of low-ranking Roman soldier who carried a dagger (sicarii) also fits
>> Igeres R Sherira Gaon referring to their deaths as a "shamda". Persecution
>> is a term we would use for something caused by people, not disease.

> RSY is here countering the known (to him) arguments that have been made
> (and documents them naming names) based on Rav Sherira Gaon's attribution
> of "shamda" to Rabbi Akiva's students' death ("vehayah shamda al talmidim

Except that what I said about "iskara" is found in most divrei Torah
that refer to the idea at al. (Hit Google
and ignore the hits that are mine. Looking further, I think this element
started with R Shlomo Riskin; but many others run with it.)

The daggers were "sicae", so a soldier who weilds a dagger is a "sicario"
-- "sicarii" in plural. "Sicarii" makes it to Hebrew as the name of a
group of Zealots in the war that led to the Churban -- the Siqariyum. And
in South American Spanish idiom, a "sicario" is a hitman.

I think RSY's oversight of a key part of the argument as frequently
presented is a major limitation of the article you shared. It doesn't
matter if you can give alternate explanations for all of the bases of
a theory except the most compelling one.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Today is the 26th day, which is
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   3 weeks and 5 days in/toward the omer.
Author: Widen Your Tent      Hod sheb'Netzach: When is domination or taking
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF       control just a way of abandoning one's self?

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