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Gittin 57: Titus, Balaam, Jesus, and Rome

On Onkelos — the famous translator, who converted to Judaism. The Gemara here presents his investigations prior to conversion, wherein he consults some dead and ostensibly wicked non-Jews: Titus, Balaam, Jesus. Titus advises him to fight the Jews, not join them. Also, concern about the small size of the Land of Israel, and the way it’s going to expand as needed. Plus, other famous converts – Na’aman, Nevuzadran, Haman’s descendants, Sisera’s descendants, Sennacharib’s descendants… Shmaya and Avtalyon, from the “Zugot.” Also, reading Rome into the Genesis narrative, with Jacob and Esau standing in for Israel and Rome, and the evil wrought by the empire.

[NOTE: The audio cuts out here and there – as noted several times, the app is giving us (Anne especially) problems – but we’ve double- and triple-checked, and the content is there, despite the occasional blip]

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Anne and Yardaena

Anne Gordon is the deputy editor of Ops & Blogs at The Times of Israel. She is a veteran educator, having taught in high school and post-high school institutions in Israel and America for several decades. Yardaena Osband is a pediatrician and teaches in her community and online. They both hail from Boston, proud alumna of Maimonides School, where they first learned Gemara. Talking Talmud is their conversation (via podcast) on the daf yomi. They say: "Learning the daf? We have something for you to think about. Not learning the daf? We have something for you to think about! (Along with a taste of the daf...) Join the conversation with us!"
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