Menashe of Judah
In 701 BCE, after claiming to have conquered 46 fortified cities and some smaller towns in Judah, Sennacherib focused on conquering Jerusalem. For reasons that are still not wholly known – the Bible describes the spread of a plague that devastated the Assyrian troops besieging the capital – Jerusalem was not conquered, but Judah was left in ruins and only a few years later Hezekiah died. His successor was his 12-year-old son Manasseh. The difference between father and son could not have been more dramatic.Manasseh ruled Judah for 55 years, from 698-642 BCE, longer than any king of Judah. If we rely on the prophetic portions of the Bible alone, the portrait that is painted is of an evil man – a mass murderer and idol worshiper whose reign was so tainted it would later be the cause of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BCE.
Manasseh promoted idolatry throughout his kingdom, built pagan temples and even sacrificed one of his sons in the fires of Moloch worship. There is an old tradition in Judaism that Manasseh executed the prophet Isaiah. While the later biblical books of Chronicles depict Manasseh as repenting, this does not seem to fit the character of the man described in the Books of Kings. There is less than one chapter devoted to Manasseh’s reign despite the fact that he ruled for more than half a century. The Bible tells us: “He did what was displeasing to the Lord, following the abhorrent practices of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. He rebuilt the shrines that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he erected altars for Baal and made a sacred post, as King Ahab of Israel had done.” This comparison of Manasseh to the northern king Ahab is a damning indictment of the southern ruler. For their failure to worship in Jerusalem alone – the Northern Kingdom built temples at Dan and Bet El – the northerners were punished with exile. According to the Bible, Manasseh’s heirs would meet the same fate in the future.
Manasseh reigned for 55 years – there must be something more to say about him than all the evil he perpetrated. During Manasseh’s reign, dramatic geo-political developments were taking place, including the beginning of the end of the Assyrian Empire as the region’s mighty military machine. Archeology reveals that under the Assyrians, Judah recovered from the policy of rebellion of Hezekiah and even flourished. We do not know whether Manasseh’s promotion of idol worship was an act demanded by the Assyrian overlords or was simply the free will of Hezekiah’s son to overturn the gains his father made in the religious realm. There is no way to know, but the historical and archeological consensus is that idolatry was not forced upon Judah by the Assyrians.
The tribes of Judah, with its vassal tribe Simeon, and of Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David. The union between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin had become very close during the preceding reign, and there were more Benjaminites than Judahns in Jerusalem. Relying upon the support of these tribes, Rehoboám began to make preparations to reduce the rebel tribes to obedience by force. Jeroboam, in anticipation of such an event, had meantime succeeded in convincing the
rebel tribes of the necessity of selecting a king of their own who was to defend them against the attack of Rehoboam. As he was the only man of the ability and daring, and an Ephraimite at that, the Ephraimites readily fell in with his scheme, induced the other tribes to join them, and Jeroboam accordingly made king over the ten northern tribes (about 977-955).
To obviate the need of pilgrimages to the temple of Jerusalem to which the people had been accustomed and in which there lurked a political danger, Jeroboam hit upon a mischievous scheme which was to lead Israel back into idolatry. During his sojourn in Egypt, Jeroboam became acquainted with the animal worship of the Egyptians, and learned the stupefying effect it had upon the peoThe introduction of the Apis worship in Israel would have the same effect upon the Israelites, would render them more tractable, and, in addition, would raise Jeroboam in the favor of the Egyptian Moreover, Jeroboam determined to pose as a restorer of the ancient religion of Israel and not as the creator of a new one. In Egypt, and later in their own country, the Israelites had worshiped the sacred bulls, the symbol of God. The imageless worship of the temple of Jerusalem was Solomon's own innovation; Jeroboam came to restore the ancient cult of Israel. This shrewd scheme Jeroboam carried into execution. He forbade pilgrimages to the temple of Jerusalem and ordered the erection of the images of the God of Israel in the shape of a young bull (calf). These he placed in Bethel and Dan, which were already regarded as holy places, and which would serve the convenience of both the northern and southern tribes. Pointing at the image, Jeroboam exclaimed: This is thy God, O Israel, who brought thee out of Egypt." To wean the Israelites further
away from participating in the harvest festival at Jerusalem, he instituted such a festival in the
eighth instead of in the seventh month. The people, on the whole, did indeed regard Jeroboam's
innovation as a restoration of their ancient cult; nor did this cult conflict with their deep-seated
conviction of the unity of God. Jeroboanm did not introduce polytheism; he simply symbolized God
in the form of a bull, the embodiment of power and fertility. This visualization of their God rather
pleased them; the spirituality of God was less comprehensible to them than his unity. Moreover, no
acts of immorality and debauchery were connected with the new cult as they used to be with the Baal
worship. The people, therefore, gradually accustomed themselves to visit Dan or Bethel where the
king himself officiated on the occasion of the great festival. Otherwise, they offered their sacriñces
either at home, or at the nearby shrines. Jeroboam accomplished his purpose; the people were stupe-
fied and yielded slavish obedience. "Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without understanding.
It asks counsel of a stick of wood, and of a staff they inquire the future." (Hosea, 7:II; 4:I2.)
For more on Heinrich Graetz see: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/graetz-heinrich
The Lost Kiddush Cup
The story is told by Dov Genachowski, a well-known journalist, talmudic scholar, economist, and amateur researcher of the history of Jerusalem. Dov is the scion of a Lithuanian family of rabbis and scholars. His father, Rabbi Eliyahu Moshe Genachowski, was a member of Knesset on the ha-Poel ha-Mizrahi list. The Genachowski family lived in Bnei Brak, in the Givat Rokah neighborhood, near the home of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, better known as the Hazon Ish. The
Genachowski family was friendly with the Hazon Ish, and Dov, as a young man, would often spend time at his home. The families already knew each other in Lithuania: Dov's mother's grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Hirschowitz (an outstanding student of Rabbi Israel Salanter), was once the havrutah (study partner) of the Hazon Ish's father, Rabbi
Shmaryahu Karelitz, the Rabbi of Kossovo. During the early 1950s, a new Halakhic concept began to spread
throughout Haredi society: the shiur (measuring standard) of the Hazon Ish. Within a very short time, the concept became so entrenched that in halakhic applications, the shiurei Hazon Ish have become an accepted norm among nearly all sectors of Haredi society. The concept of shiur and its halakhic implications are as follows: A shiur is a measure of volume, area, length, or width which is critical to the performance of major precepts.
When the concept of shiur Hazon Ish began gathering mnomentum in yeshiva circles, Dov Genachowski was a typically audacious young Sabra. He took the Kiddush cups out of the closet and presented them to the Hazon Ish at the latter's home. The Hazon Ish refused to react, but would not relent, either. Numerous anecdotes circulate in the religious
community concerning the Hazon Ish's "revolution." For example, Rabbi Yitzhak L. Rabinowitz remembered the daughter of the Hafetz Hayim complaining that her sons would not use their grandfather's cup for Kiddush because "it doesn't hold a shiur Hazon Ish." The Hafetz Hayim, it should be recalled, was the author of the Mishnah Berurah.
chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://faculty.biu.ac.il/~mfriedma/Lost-Kiddush.pdf See also The Uses of Tradition: Jewish Continuity in the Modern Era (Jewish Theological Seminary) Paperback – February 1, 1999, by Jack Wertheimer (Editor) and Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History Hardcover – May 1, 2015 by Marc B. Shapiro (Author)