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VCU Menorah Review Summer/Fall 2013
Number 79
For the Enrichment of Jewish Thought

Moreshet: From the Sources

Our rabbis taught: When the Temple was destroyed for the second time, large numbers in Israel became ascetics, binding themselves neither to eat meat nor drink wine. Rav Joshua got into conversation with them and said: “My sons, why do you not eat meat nor drink wine?” They replied: “Shall we eat flesh which used to be brought as an offering on the altar, now that this altar is in abeyance? Shall we drink wine which used to be poured as a libation on the altar, but now no longer?” He said to them: “If that is so, we should not eat bread either, because the meal offerings have ceased.” They said: “That is so, and we can manage with fruit.” “We should not eat fruit either,” he said, “because there is no longer an offering of first fruits.” “Then we can manage with other fruits,” they said. “But,” he said, “we should not drink water, because there is no longer any ceremony of the pouring of water.” To this they could find no answer, so he said to them: “My sons, not to mourn at all is impossible, because the blow has fallen. To mourn overmuch is also impossible, because we do not impose on the community a hardship which the majority cannot endure.” Talmud Bava Batra

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