THE JUBILEE CALENDAR
A Major Point of Contention between the Zadokite Priesthood and the Hasmonean Priesthood
Halachikally the Torah Law we follow today is according to the School of Hillel. The School of Hillel and the School of Shami were so far apart that the Talmud expresses fear that the One Torah might end up as two torot (”Sanhedrin” 88b). Medrashim say that when Moshiach comes we will follow the School of Shamai. In other words, the School of Hillel will become lower, and the School of Shamai higher. This is difficult, because “in holy things we only elevate and do not lower (maalim bakodesh veein moridim).” This is because conflicting opinions in the Torah are considered complementary rather than exclusive — and the words of both Hillel and Shamai, even though they apparently contradict each other, are considered “the words of the Living G-d”:
“Eleh VaEleh Divei Elokim Chaiim”
This is difficult because the “Oral Tradition”, now called the Mishnah or the “Oral Law”, developed as a sage was assigned to teach in an Academy during Shabbat, where he expounded the Scriptural lesson. His ideas then became known to all the others and what he said became part of the stream of an Oral Tradition passed on from one to the other and from generation to generation. Later, to enforce observance of the sage’s teaching, it was taught that the Oral Tradition Law was given at Sinai. It was not written down until the beginning of the Third Century CE, by Judah ha-Nasi (Judah the Prince). This was more than a thousand years since the giving of the written Torah. The truth is that the Mishnah developed over a period of a thousand years. We surely need the Mishnah, but to say it was given at Sinai is an unacceptable stretch. The tradition of the Mishnah is vital to our understanding; but now we must consider the evidence of a tradition more than a thousand years older, and that which properly explains the words of the Torah Itself: the calendar of the Sadducees.
In even earlier times there were also two schools of thought, that of the Sadducees (the Zadokite Priesthood), and that of the Pharisees (the Hasmonean Priesthood). Both the School of Hillel and the School of Shamai are of the Pharisees, who in times past, did not consider “conflicting opinions in the Torah complementary rather than exclusive” with regard to the Sadducees. Because of error and political hatred between these two groups the Holy Temple was destroyed. In this time of the “Restitution of All Things” we must heal this error before we begin to build the Third Beit HaMikdash.
A proper analysis of the relationship between our world and that of the ancient Sadducees requires the type of thorough survey only a Torah scholar, fluent in the Hebrew language, could provide. I do not possess these tools. The paradox herein is that one possessed of the proper qualities and tools would be so steeped in negative prejudice towards an objective study, that he would be unable to pursue an investigation from an unbiased viewpoint.
It is only natural that, starting from childhood, we carry with us cultural baggage (obviously with profound historical roots) which portrays the Sadducees as enemies. As a result, this culture is usually drawn in broad, ugly strokes, identifying Sadducee culture and tradition in general with crude ideas largely unsupported by fact.
The disadvantage of such an approach is in fact twofold. Firstly, it does not enable us to get to the crux of the issue and prevents us from understanding the full significance of the conflict between the two divergent subcultures in a profound way. Turning the opponent into a “straw man” makes it easier for us to deal with him, but the real battle – in terms of faith and belief, philosophy and culture – is never addressed.
“Eleh VaEleh Divei Elokim Chaiim”
In addition, erecting a wall between us and this portion of our “roots” can lead us to voluntarily cutting ourselves off from its considerable wealth.
Consider the evidence in the MMT Scroll and the Manual of Discipline. For example, the Sons of Zadok (Sadducees) maintained the tradition of the white linen garments of the priesthood even in their exile to Qumran. The wicked (Pharisee) priest of Jerusalem had forsaken Torah commandments of wearing the white linen garments of the priesthood.
In light of the current preparation for the reinstitution of the Temple Cult we must investigate all areas of the conflict between the Sadducees and the Pharisees; so that errors of the past be not repeated.
As a point of departure, I have chosen one specific subject. This aspect – one of the most central ones – in the debate between these two groups – regards the calendar: a subject which is central to Judaism to this day. In doing so the reader must realize the importance of the calendar to Judaism; and that the writer’s intent is not to discredit, but that it is to properly build for the future. In our future lies a time of Restitution. This restitution must not be built on the errors that were causes for the events of the 9th of Av and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Truth must survive, whatever the cost to the memory of either the School of Hillel, the School of Shamai, the Sadducees or the Pharisees. After all, the underlying truth is that these became, in the end, little more than opposing political parties using the same tools which political parties use today. In the end, they both became caricatures much like the elephant and the donkey are today. In the beginning, the first had sought spirituality for Israel; the second came to promote strong central government and legislation to fight against Hellenism.
Toynbee wrote in his book about Greek culture, that the cardinal sin of Greek culture – from the Christian point of view – was its humanism. Hellenism held man in high esteem and viewed the world through human lenses. Together with abandoning all the primitive feelings of fear associated with paganism, the transition to this Greek humanism had done irreparable harm to the concept of holiness to which the Sadducees held.
Within the Greek Hellenism the sense of awe – not the primitive fear of the early pagans, but true religious fear, the awe associated with “Holy, holy, holy is the Hashem of Hosts,” the G-d on High – this diminished and disappeared. When we see gods as humans (only slightly more sophisticated, perhaps) or as philosophical abstractions, then there is no longer any room for a sense of fear, awe or majesty.
This led to the obliteration in Greek culture of a category fundamental to us: commandments. In our world, man sees himself first and foremost as someone who is commanded, as the bearer of a Divine mission, as carrying upon his shoulders a task which must be fulfilled. This concept is generally lacking in the classical Greek world of Plato and Aristotle, and it was to fight for this concept that the Pharisees became a political force.
It appears that the REAL justification for the Oral Law being “inspired” — is that it teaches the lunar-solar calendar. It also appears that the REAL justification for the lunar-solar calendar — is that it is defined in the Oral Law. When these two justifications are taken together, they offer little confidence in either. When posed the question, “Is there any REAL justification for the teaching that the Talmud (Oral Law) was given to Moses at the same time as the Torah was given? What part of the Oral Law REALLY WAS given when the Torah was given?” Rabbi Mordechai Becher and the Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions, Jerusalem, give us the following answer, which confirms the above conclusion:
“Good question, which is hard to do justice to in an email piece. I suggest a book called “The Infinite Chain: Torah, Mesorah and Man” by Rabbi Natan Lopez-Cordoza. I will try to answer your question briefly – In order to even read the Written Torah which is without vowels or punctuation requires an oral tradition. In addition for emphasis, emotion, pauses and continuity as well as for legal definitions, such as Work on Sabbath, affliction on Yom kippur, life, day, etc. In other words the Torah is incomprehensible without Oral traditions. Was the author being cruel? Or did He provide additional explanations? We say that the Oral Law is the Author’s explanation of the Written Law In fact, it is mentioned in the Torah itself – “And you shall slaughter your flocks and cattle… as I have commanded you” – Deuteronomy 12:21 even though nowhere in the written law is the method of slaughter explained. In addition there are a number of pieces of evidence that indicate an ancient oral tradition.”
b) “Artifacts predating redaction of Mishnah. e.g. Tefilin, Mikvaot – that conform exactly to the oral law requirements. (Yadin, Qumran, Masada.
At Qumran in 1947, there were apocalyptic scrolls found, and among them the Books of Jubilees and the Second Mikdash writings of Enoch I which discuss the calendar and dating system by which these people lived. Scholars had been attentive of the Apocryphal Calendar before this find, but interest was renewed with the discovery of these scrolls by which the Qumran sect lived. It is based on 364 days per year. The year is divided into four periods (to correspond to the four seasons of the year), of 13 weeks or 91 days in each period. There are 12 months in each year or a total of 52 weeks. By using this exact measure and beginning the year on the Wednesday just after the vernal equinox, the holy days fall exactly on the same day, in the same month, every year.
This calendar warrants extensive study, as there are now numerous proofs it was the calendar used by Abraham, King Solomon, King David, and High Priest Zadok in the First Holy Mikdash. A different calendar was used in the Second Commonwealth, but that Mikdash had no Presence, no Ark of the Covenant, and no means for its apostate priesthood to communicate directly with Hashem. In fact, it is recorded that 300 high priests during the second Mikdash period, died when they went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Something, perhaps many things, were wrong with the Second Mikdash Cult.
A team of scholars was appointed to study the scrolls in 1952. They became an elite and secretive clique. In 1991 this monopoly was effectively broken when the Huntington Library in California announced it would allow public access to its collection of Dead Sea Scrolls photographs. This was soon followed by the publication of a Facsimile Edition by the Biblical Archaeology Society in Washington, D.C. Until this time scholars previously controlling access to the Scrolls had been publicly contending that there was nothing interesting in the remaining unpublished Scrolls and nothing throwing further light on Judaism and Christianity’s rise in Palestine. (The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, Professor Robert Eisenman & Michael Wise).
THE SECOND MIKDASH
The Torah tells us that as the Second Mikdash was dedicated, the joyous noises of the happy Jews were drowned out by the grief-stricken cries of those older people who remembered the glory of the Solomon’s Mikdash. There was not a lot of money in Jerusalem in those years, and worse still, there were not a lot of Jews; most had decided to stay behind in the strong Torah-communities of the exile rather than face the dangers and discomfort of settling the Holy Land.
As if that wasn’t enough, the local political climate at the birth of the second commonwealth was far from stable. Kussim (Samaritans), struggling for the favor of the Persian king, fought physical and political battles against the fragile Jewish community. The community itself was small and at times badly weakened by ignorance of Torah’s commandments and even intermarriage (Nechemiya 9, 2).
The result of all the turmoil was a Mikdash that – while grand – couldn’t compare to its predecessor. How could it be otherwise? The builders literally had to go about their work with sword in one hand (Nechemiya 4,15) and tools in the other.
This second Mikdash lacked the ark (it had been buried decades before the previous destruction to protect it from the hands of the enemy); the high priest had no breastplate from which to consult G-d’s advice (either the stones were missing or, according to another opinion, were there, but did not light up in response to questions); there were fewer open miracles with which to see the Divine presence and the materials and architecture of the building itself were disappointing. But it was better than exile.
The fact was, the whole period of the second empire was anyway a kind of half-exile. The sages, led by the 120 members of the Anshei Knesset Hagadol (Men of the Great Assembly), actually used the years of the Second Commonwealth as a preparation for the longer exile they knew would come. It was this body which, among other things, instituted much of the siddur (prayerbook) that we have today.
These were declining years for the Jewish people. Just over the horizon lay a seemingly endless exile. The future was bleak and the world’s various powers (The Persians, Greeks and Romans) would not leave the little land and its people to enjoy its present either.
But for the existence of our great leaders, like Shimon Hatzadik, Shemaya and Avtalion, Hillel and Shamai and Rabbi Akiva, our people would long before have been swallowed up by the sands of time. It was only the Torah – the Torah of those leaders – that acted as a beacon in the dark night to define us as a nation and show us the path to follow.
One of the earliest high priests of the Second Mikdash, Shimon Hatzadik was also one of the most famous. It was Shimon who was shown the image of a holy man clothed in white every Yom Kipur as he left the holy of holies (on the fortieth year, the last of his life, the image wore black – TB Menachos 109b).
It was Shimon who, throughout his term as high priest Godol, merited that the oil in the “western” cup of the menora burned longer than any other (even though it was lit last) a clear, yet daily, miracle (TB Yoma 39a).
It was a very young Shimon who, at the head of a procession of Jerusalem’s sages, set out to greet the great emperor, Alexander. The Greek, as far as anyone knew, was planning to destroy Jerusalem and end what he saw as its opposition to his rule.
At the head of his huge army, astride his tall horse, Alexander was not likely to give the Jews much time to plead their case. But it was the face of Shimon that inspired the king to dismount and kneel on the ground before the Rabbi. “This face,” explained Alexander, “appeared to me before every battle which I won…” (TB Yoma 69a)
Shimon Hatzadik, A Sadducee of the Line of Zadok served as High Priest for 40 years. It was he who, as much as anyone, built the foundation for Jewish life in Israel for the next four hundred years, and by extension, set the tone for Jewish life until this day yet he, too, endured a personal struggle.
The Talmud (Menachos 109b) leaves us with the story of Shimon, who, nearing death, instructed his younger son, Chonyo, to take over as high priest. Chonyo, it seems, wished not to embarrass his older brother, Shimi, and gave up the position.
But as the day approached for Shimi to take on his new responsibilities, Chonyo regretted his generosity. He plotted to have his brother expelled from the position – and perhaps even killed!
The next day, Chonyo waited with all the rest of the priests for his brother’s arrival. When Shimi came, dressed as he was, Chonyo pointed and shouted: “Look at that man! He promised his wife that as a sign of his love for her, he would wear her clothes the day he became high priest!”
The other priests chased Shimi, intending to punish him for disgracing the Mikdash. But before they could do anything, Shimi managed to figure out what had happened and told the whole story. Now the priests’ attention turned back to Chonyo, the real culprit…
By the time all the dust had settled, Shimon Hatzadik’s brother, Eliezer, was Kohen Godol and Chonyo was in Alexandria, Egypt. Once there, Chonyo built an altar and began to attract a following among the local gentiles, his goal, to teach the people about the true worship of the One G-d. No Jew offered sacrifices on this altar as Jewish sacrifices outside of the Mikdash in Jerusalem were (and still are) strictly forbidden.
Eventually, Chonyo returned to Jerusalem and took up the position of high priest he had lost so many years before.
Three generations later, another Chonyo (a direct descendent of Shimon Hatzadik’s son) travelled to Egypt. He too built a altar – actually a replica from the Mikdash in Jerusalem – and there Jews offered their own (forbidden) sacrifices. Such was the strange state of the Jewish community of Alexandria.
…And if you think a Jewish Mikdash in Alexandria was strange, wait ’till you hear about Yeb! Around ninety years ago, archaeologists working near the present-day site of the Aswan Dam (on the Nile River) discovered a collection of perfectly preserved papyrus letters. The letters seemed to be the correspondence of the soldiers of a Persian garrison stationed in the area towards the beginning of the Second Mikdash period. What is interesting to us, is that these paid soldiers – and their families who lived alongside them – were Jewish! They lived in the garrison town for generations, cut off from Jewish life.
Reading the letters (written originally in Aramaic) we can learn a great deal about the Jewish life of the period. For one thing, these Jews had a temple dedicated to idol worship. Apparently, some Egyptian vandals destroyed their temple and the Jews applied to the Persian governor in Alexandria for permission to rebuild it. They were unsuccessful. Later they wrote to the Jewish governor in Jerusalem from whom they received the permission to do what they wanted.
In another letter, the high priest in Jerusalem found it necessary to inform the people of Yeb that the festival of Passover was approaching and that it was forbidden to eat chometz for the whole week. It is hard to imagine the ignorance that plagued such Jews EVEN WHILE THE MIKDASH STILL STOOD!
THE LINGERING EXILE
The majority of Jews chose not to follow Ezra up to the Holy Land to rebuild the Second Mikdash. While the communities of the exile contributed funds and resources to the project, they were noticeably missing from the shattered city. Ezra, the leader of his generation, spoke harshly about those who stayed behind and on some of them, even invoked curses. The Jewish world was much bigger than one might think:.
Babylonia: (modern-day Iraq) was the main Torah community and was host to the greatest Jewish population in the world. Already at the time of the destruction of the first Mikdash, the Babylonian community was strong and ready to receive and support the new exiles. It was one of G-d’s many kindnesses that He arranged for Torah leaders to be brought to Babylonia to prepare a home, decades before the mass of Jewish exiles would arrive.
North Africa: To this day, the island of Djerba is home to an ancient Jewish community. Strangely enough, they are nearly all priests (kohanim, a few yisroelim and no leviim at all. Legend has it that Ezra cursed the leviim of Djerba for not going to Jerusalem when they were needed. There is also a legend that any levy who goes to Djerba, will die within a year. don’t personally know anyone who’s put it to the test.
France: France, four hundred years BEFORE the building of the first Mikdash. There is a tradition from the Sefer Meiros Eynayim (a commentator on Shulchan Aruch, quoted by She’eris Yisroel), that there were members of the tribe of Benjamin who escaped from the Jewish civil war – fought just one hundred years after the exodus from Egypt (see Judges, chapters 19 and 20) – and ran to France. One of the communities they founded was the famous city of Worms (Rashi’s home).
The Sefer Meiros Eynayim contends that one of the reasons the city of Worms suffered so badly at the hands of the medieval crusaders was because their ancestors had failed to answer Ezra’s plea for immigrants to the fledgling Jewish community in Jerusalem. The hand of the old sage, Ezra, reaches far indeed.
The name Sadducee is derived from that of Zadok, the high priest of the Jerusalem Mikdash in the time of Solomon. But what proof have we that these Zaddikim were, in fact the rightful priesthood, expelled from the Mikdash by an apostate sect? What proof have they offered to us that their laws and customs bear the mark of authenticity?
Proof of the Zaddikim’s authenticity lies in the evidence that they were the keepers of the true implements of the Mikdash Cult from the First Temple (Mikdash). Since the time of King Solomon, virtually without interruption up until the time of the Hasmonean Revolt, the Zadokite Priests had been in control of the Jerusalem Mikdash. They trace their ancestry back to the high priest Zadok, who officiated in King Solomon’s Mikdash. It was members of this group who were to become known as Sadducees to the Pharisees. In other words, the Sadducees were the priestly aristocracy, The prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 44:9-16) assigned the priestly duties exclusively to this family.
In fact, according to the T’nach, only the sons of Zadok (the Zaddikim or Sadducees) will have the right to make sacrifices in the New Mikdash; see Ezek. 40:46. This means that the Dynasty of Zadok, the First High Priest in the Mikdash, will be restored. These items would include such items as the Mikdash incense, the anointing oil of the priesthood, the ashes of the Red Heifer, and the Ark of the Covenant.
Josephus, himself a priest of the Pharisees who had no knowledge of the Oral Law being given on Mt. Sinai, relates that the Sadducees reflected the traditions of the Fathers, which seems to have been the forerunner of the Oral Law, and was also observed as law by the Pharisees. It follows then that at the time of the First Holy Mikdash, it was not taught that the Oral Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. On the contrary, a smaller body of law was, at that time, referred to as TRADITION. Both groups adhered to this tradition. To justify and venerate their own rulings, the Pharisees began to call their own legislation the very Word of G-d. In this way they set themselves above their vanquished foe, the Sadducees, and rewrite history. The truth, however, has come back to bite them in the form of the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Sadducees.
Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and also in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature, focused on the unique Halakhah peculiar to the Dead Sea sect. He began his study of the legal material with is doctoral dissertation in 1974, which dealt with “The Halakhah at Qumran.” A year later, in 1975, his dissertation was published in a volume by the same name, that dealt with the “conceptual framework behind the legal material in the Qumran corpus, how the sect derived its law, and how its members perceived this process. In 1991, he was appointed to the team publishing and researching the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Schiffman has the respect of his contemporaries in Dead Sea Scrolls research as evidenced by the comments of Herschel Shanks and Emanuel Tov on the cover of his recent book, “Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls”. Regarding the Qumran Sect, he tells us that:
“The earliest members must have been Sadducees unwilling to accept the status quo establishment in the aftermath of the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees, by replacing the Zadokite high priesthood with their own, reduced the Zadokites to a subsidiary position for as long as Hasmonean rule lasted. Even after leaving Jerusalem, the Dead Sea sect continued to refer to its leaders as the ‘Sons of Zadok’. These were indeed Sadducees who protested the imposition of Pharisaic views in the Temple under the Hasmonean priests.”
From the text of the Zadokites Fragments found in the Cairo genizah, we learn that “in ancient times Israel went astray.” As a result G-d “hid His face” and allowed the destruction of the First Mikdash in 586 BCE, “yet a remnant of the defeated people remained,” and it was they, who ultimately formed the sect.” The Sadducee sect at Qumran, by their way of life and beliefs, claimed to be this remnant and the true Israel. The text below is telling us that the sect arose from Israel (the people) and from Aaron (the priesthood). It also presents a chronological date for the formation of the Qumran Sadducee sect:
“And in the period of wrath, three hundred and ninety years after He handed it (the Mikdash) over to Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, He remembered them (Israel) and caused to grow from Israel and Aaron the root of a plant (i.e. the sect).” Zadokite Fragments 1:5-7.
Modern Rabbinic Judaism is descended from the Pharisees, who appeared (by name) suddenly in history as a distinct entity during the Hasmonean period, in the time of Jonathan Maccabee (150 BCE). These “Rabbinic sources trace their history back to the ‘Men of the Great Assembly’, who are said to have provided the religious leadership for Israel in the Persian and early Hellenistic periods.” When the “Pharisees appear in Hasmonean times, they are part of a governing council that serves in coalition with the Sadducees, with whom they sought to advance their vision of how the Jewish People should live and govern themselves.” Encyclopedia Judaica informs us that the name Pharisee is derived from the Hebrew word “perushim”; which means “cast out”. Originally the Sadducees cast the perushim out of the Sanhedrin for their heretical ideas. These “cast out” Perushim, usurped the Zadokite Dynasty with the Hasmonean Dynasty — and only 35% of the time did they come out of the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, alive.
The Gemara (Yoma 9a) states that the first Holy Mikdash where the Dynasty of Zadok served and which stood for 410 years, only had 18 High Priests who served in it. Tosafot state that Divrei Hayamim (I Chronicles 5:36) itemizes only eight High Priests who served.
In the second Holy Mikdash, which abided for 420 years, more than 300 Pharisee priests served. If you subtract the 40 years which Shimeon the Righteous served, the 80 years which Yochanan the High Priest served, the 10 years which Yishmael b. Fabi served or, as some say, the 11 years of Rabbi Eleazar b. Charsum, and then count the number of High Priests from then on — you will find that none of them completed his year in office. The Jewish Press, Friday, May 9, 1997 states: “They all died when they entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to pray for a good year for all Jews. This happened because they were corrupt. They bought the high priestly office for money and also accepted bribes.”
AN ABOMINATION THAT MAKES DESOLATE
The people were so accustomed to see the priests die that they tied a rope around them and, when they didn’t walk out from the Holy of Holies, the people knew they had died and they were then pulled out, for no one else was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.
With the release of 4QMMT (”The Halakhic Letter” from the Dead Sea Scrolls) in 1985, the Sadducees exiled to Qumran once again spoke from their graves. The letter asserts that when an upper vessel, the source of a liquid stream is pure and the lower vessel is not, if the stream connects both liquids, then the impurity is also in the upper vessel. This assertion is even found in the Mishnah: “The Sadducees say: ‘We complain against you Pharisees, for you declare pure the (poured out) liquid stream’”. M Yadayim 4:7. The laws regarding the Red Heifer are also explained according to the Sadducean position.
One reason for HaShem to strike dead these 300 Perushim, who usurped the Zadokite Dynasty with the Hasmonean Dynasty; was called “deliberate contamination to undermine the influence of the Sadducees”. Rabbi Chaim Richman, in his book The Mystery of the Red Heifer – Divine Promise of Purity (vanity p