Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Self-Sacrifice: Understanding the Last Three Blessings of Shemoneh Esrei

Burnt Offerings

During the era of the Roman domination of Israel, the Sage Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma fell sick, and Rebbi Chanina ben Tradion went to visit him.

Rebbi Yossi asked Rebbi Chanina, “Chanina, don’t you know that this nation was chosen from Above to rule over us, destroy the Beis Hamikdash, burn its sanctuary, kill its righteous ones, and wipe out its good people? So why am I hearing that you are publicly teaching Torah and you keep a sefer Torah with you?”

“From the Heavens they will have mercy on me,” responded Rebbi Chanina.

“I’m offering you advice and you tell me that from Heaven they will have mercy on you!” replied Rebbi Yossi. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they burn you together with your sefer Torah!”

“[If they kill me] will I merit entering the World to Come?” asked Rebbi Chanina.

“Have you done anything to merit a place there?" questioned Rebbi Yossi.

Rebbi Chanina thought for a moment and responded, “Once, money that I had saved for my family’s Purim meal got mixed up with tzedaka money I was holding. I gave all the money to poor people and did not take any compensation back from the tzedaka.”

“Since you gave up your own money to tzedaka,” concluded Rebbi Yossi, “you will receive a place in the World to Come with me.”

It was not long before Rebbi Yossi ben Kisma died, and all of the leaders of Rome came to participate in the funeral and eulogize him. On their way home they saw Rebbi Chanina ben Tradion teaching Torah publicly from a sefer Torah. They wrapped the Torah scroll around him and set it on fire. The Romans placed pads of wet wool around his heart so that his death throes would be prolonged. Rebbi Chanina’s daughter saw him and said, “Father, I can’t see you like this!” He replied, “If I was being burned alone, it would be difficult for me. But since I am being burned together with a sefer Torah, I know that He Who takes vengeance for the disgrace of the Torah will take vengeance for my death.”

Kaltzanori, the person appointed by the Romans to guard Rebbi Chanina, asked him, “Rebbi, if I increase the fire and remove the wool from your heart so that you will die quicker, will I get a place in the World to Come?" Rebbi Chanina replied that he would. “Swear to me that this is so,” pleaded Kaltzanori. Rebbi Chanina swore, and Kaltzanori brought more firewood and took off the wool. Rebbi Chanina died instantaneously, and Kaltzanori jumped into the fire.

A voice emanated from Heaven proclaiming, “Rebbi Chanina and Kaltzanori have earned a place in the World to Come!” When Rebbi Yehuda heard this, he cried and said, “Some people earn their portion in the world to come in one moment, while some people need many years” (Avoda Zara 18a).

Let us explore how this story of faith and martyrdom relates to the powerful final blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON PESACH AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Feeling Jewish
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Inherent and Essential Contradictions
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5770

Out of Order
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

ArtScroll

All The Days of Your Life
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

A Count of Anticipation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim: Once Upon a Time…
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

> The Importance of Order
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Freedom and Speech
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Pesach: The Obligation of Profound Appreciation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Students of Rabbi Akiva
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Searching for the Chametz Within
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Why Next Year in Jerusalem?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

What is the Question?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Father-on-Loan
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

In the Heart of “This Night”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Relating the Chain of Events: Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information