Todos Ish Romi
Posted 03 April 2011 - 03:59 PM
I'm writing a historical novel about the Jewish community of ancient Rome about 20 years after the Churban. In my research, I came across a custom instituted by one Todos Ish Romi, who encouraged the community to eat a "helmeted kid" on Pesach eve in the fashion of the Korban Pesach. The Gemara mentions an interaction between him and Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach, who lived at the time of King Alexander Yannai, but I've heard opinions that Todos really lived closer to the time of Bar Kochba.
Can anyone shed some light on this issue for me, with sources?
Posted 03 April 2011 - 09:20 PM
THEODOSIUS OF ROME ("Todos Ish Romi"; see Jastrow Dict. 1650), the spiritual leader of the Roman Jewish community some time during the late first century C.E. Yose b. Ḥalafta relates that he instituted in Rome on the nights of Passover the eating of "helmeted goats," i.e., goats roasted with entrails and legs on the head, like a helmet, the manner in which the paschal lamb was sacrificed. They (i.e., the sages, not Simeon b. Shetaḥ, as in Ber. 19a) sent to him, declaring that were he not Theodosius, they would have declared a ban against him, because he was "making Israel eat sacred flesh outside[the Temple]" (Pes. 53a; cf. Tosef., Beẓah 2:15). This story demonstrates the degree to which the central religious authorities in Palestine (probably Gamaliel and the bet din at Jabneh) kept a strict check on Diaspora Jewry. In the amoraic period, the question arose whether Theodosius was a "great man" (gavra rabba) or merely a "powerful man" (ba'al egrofin). They proved that he was a "great man," citing a teaching of his: "What did Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah see that they delivered themselves for the Sanctification of the[Divine]Name into the fiery furnace…–" It is surely indicative that the only teaching recorded of this prominent Diaspora leader deals with the problem of "the sanctification of the Name" (implying martyrdom), one no doubt of very topical import. According to another amoraic tradition, Theodosius gave financial support to scholars (Pes. 53b).
Posted 04 April 2011 - 05:14 AM
I saw this early on - thanks for reminding me. I'll check out the sources at the bottom of the article.
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