Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Israeli press are ablaze about the terrible things Bibi Netanyahu's son said two years ago. I find myself torn: on one hand, he's a private citizens, and happens to be the son of the Prime Minister (and his political opponents don't care about how they attack Bibi. They just hate him.) On the other hand, my mind keeps coming back to a famous story at the very end of Masechet Sukkah.

The last Mishnah in Sukkah, in the context of discussing some of the perks that the Kohanim received when they served in the Beit Hamidash, notes that one Mishmar - that of the Bilgah Watch - was put into permanent punishment, having their locker priveleges suspended among other minor inconveniences.

The Gemara asks what prompted the punishment. What did the Kohanim of Bilgah do to deserve the public dressing down? The Gemara (Sukkah 56b) explains:
The Sages taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Miriam, the daughter of a member of the Bilga watch, who apostatized and went and married a soldier [sardeyot] serving in the army of the Greek kings. When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary, she entered with them and was kicking with her sandal on the altar and said: Wolf, wolf [lokos], until when will you consume the property of the Jewish people, and yet you do not stand with them when they face exigent circumstances? And after the victory of the Hasmoneans over the Greeks, when the Sages heard about this matter and how she denigrated the altar, they fixed the ring of the Bilga watch in place, rendering it nonfunctional, and sealed its niche.
In other words, because a daughter of Bilga, who had abandoned Judaism and married a Greek soldier, the Sages permanently punished the Priests of the Bilga Watch. The Gemara asks the obvious question:
...According to the one who said it is due to Miriam, daughter of Bilga, who apostatized, do we penalize the entire watch of Bilga because of his daughter? Abaye said: Yes, as people say, the speech of a child in the marketplace is learned either from that of his father or from that of his mother. Miriam would never have said such things had she not heard talk of that kind in her parents’ home.
The speech of children in public does indeed teach us a great deal about the way their parents speak at home.