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


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Of Showers, Towers, and False Powers
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

The World is a Symphony
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Making Something of Nothing
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5764

To Share in the Pain of Others
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

'Moment'ary Blunders
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

One for the Birds
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

G-d's Message for All Humanity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

The Path to Serving God
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

ArtScroll

If it Hurts, Scream!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

The Day Falsehood Married Destruction
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Not Just Despite, but Because of!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

> Can You Enjoy While Others Lack?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Flooded With Real Ecstasy
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

The Miracle of Free Will
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5765

From Life
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773



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