Hail, Caesar!

Julius Caesar died today! (15 March 44 BC)

When he was assassinated, he was mourned by the Jews more than by any other nation, and for a long time after they continued to weep over his tomb both by day and night (Suetonius, Divus Iulius, 84).

Hail, Caesar! Why?

Julius Caesar was a Roman leader. During the civil war between him and Pompey (49 B.C.E.), Caesar freed Aristobulus II, the deposed ruler of Judea, planning to send him to Syria, along with troops to aid him to recover his throne. Pompey’s supporters, however, succeeded in poisoning Aristobulus before he could leave Rome (cf. Dio Cassius 41:18, 1). At the same time, Hyrcanus II and Antipater, in common with the other vassal rulers in the East, remained loyal to Pompey and even sent him troops for the battle of Pharsalus (48 B.C.E.); but after Caesar’s victory and his conquest of the Orient, they went over to the side of the victor. When Caesar besieged Alexandria, Hyrcanus was one of the Oriental rulers who sent him reinforcements, and Hyrcanus’s letter influenced the Jews living in the “territory of Onias” to grant the invading army free passage. Upon his return to Syria, Caesar ratified Hyrcanus’ appointment as high priest and granted Antipater Roman citizenship and exemption from taxes. The efforts of Aristobulus’ younger son Antigonus to turn Caesar against Hyrcanus and Antipater met with failure. At the same time, Caesar nullified Gabinius’ Judean settlement and even attempted to correct some of Pompey’s abuses against the Jews. In a series of decrees and through decisions made by the Senate at his instigation, Caesar instituted a new administration in Judea. He permitted the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem, restored to Judea the port of Jaffa, and confirmed Hyrcanus and his descendants after him as high priests and ethnarchs of Judea. Hyrcanus’ realm now included Judea, Jaffa, and the Jewish settlements in Galilee and Transjordan. He also ratified Hyrcanus’ ownership of the Hasmonean territory in the “Great Valley of Jezreel.” The annual taxation of Judea was set as 12.5% of the produce of the land, with total exemption during the sabbatical year. Extortion by the military was forbidden under any pretext. Caesar’s settlement favored the continued rise of the House of Antipater. Caesar permitted Jewish organization in the Diaspora, and his tolerant attitude to Diaspora Jewry was emulated by the rulers of the provinces. Caesar’s enmity toward Pompey, who had conquered Jerusalem and defiled the Holy of Holies, led to a positive attitude toward him among the Jews. His restoration of the unity of Judea, his deference toward the high priest, Hyrcanus II, and his tolerant attitude toward the Diaspora Jews increased the sympathy of the Jewish masses for him. When he was assassinated, he was mourned by the Jews more than by any other nation, and for a long time after they continued to weep over his tomb both by day and night (Suetonius, Divus Iulius, 84).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jos., Ant., 14:123–48, 156–7, 192–216, 268–70; Jos., Wars, 1:183–203, 218; Buechler, in: Festschrift Steinschneider (1896), 91–109; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 342ff.; O. Roth, Rom und die Hasmonaeer (1914), 47ff.; Momigliano, in: Annali della Realescuola normale superiore di Pisa (1934), 192ff.; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), index.

Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/julius-caesar-x00b0

I’m 50

I’m 50 years young! What a monumental moment in life. I can finally give [good] counsel. If you’d like, I could tell you who to be, where to be, and when to be.

Or more importantly, I could remind you of how to be the aspect of yourself who wants nothing more but to be your best self.

Yehuda Ben Teima would say: Five years is the age for the study of Scripture. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot. Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength, Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for sagacity. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power. Ninety, to stoop. A hundred-year-old is as one who has died and passed away and has been negated from the world (Pirkei Avos, 5: 21).

World Book Day

It’s World Book Day. So, I’ve pasted my chapter on decision making for your perusal below.

— Sorry you missed it. This chapter was only posted for a few days —


Why are decisions so darn difficult to make?

We can attribute our decision making struggles to a normal case of FOMO. It’s like we’re all prophets when it comes to decision making. Just toying with the idea of making a choice unboxes the sense that once we clop down the gavel, single out an idea, and select one option over another, we’re certain to die of regret. 

That’s because our Antagonist places in our heart the overblown idea that making a decision means we’re automatically excluding all the other options. This is why we often feel like we’re losing out on something really important. All it takes is one decision, and somehow, we’ve already missed out. 

And it all happens so quickly… 

National Read Across America Day

It’s National Read Across America Day! My book is called: “The Wisdom of Getting Unstuck.” Check out my first chapter below:

Your Antagonist

You’re the author of your own story. You’re the main character, and as you know, a compelling story always has the major character come into conflict with an opposing force. 

This force is your Antagonist.

It wants to see you struggle. It snuggles up next to you, rubs its shoulders against you, and attempts to feed you its lines all day long. 

It wants you to follow its script, not yours.

The Antagonist tries to distort our vision. It blurs the lenses with which we view ourselves and the world around us. Our perception of reality becomes muddied by its foreign messages and external expectations. It’s easy to become misguided by its thick layers of deception.  

Would you describe yourself as a wise person? 

You’ve got your struggles just like everyone else. You’re most likely wiser in some aspects of your life than others, and whether you’re fully aware of it or not, you’re always making efforts to become the person who you truly want to be. 

Have you ever met anyone who isn’t grappling with something? We’re all struggling with one thing or another. Every one of us has an Antagonist.

The Antagonist leaves us good reason to be concerned. It’s doing everything in its power to distract and entice us into doing the wrong thing. When we start to identify ourselves with the negative messages that it delivers, we’re bound to start experiencing a heightened degree of discomfort, emptiness, pain and tension.

It’s a Bother

You’ve probably already given what’s bothering you a name. People often call it anxiety, depression, mania, fear or addiction. A good diagnostician is able to break down one’s negative behaviors and thought patterns into simple terms.

We can learn a lot from these labels. 

The problem is when we start defining ourselves by them. It’s not clear from where they originated. One thing’s for certain, once we start basing our most important life decisions on our Antagonist’s ill-driven directives, that’s when we know that we’ve stumbled right into the muddy middle. 

Imagine making life decisions based on your own values, making choices that look right and feel good, and whenever you decide to take your next step, you can count on it to be firmly planted and well secured. 

What if you could establish a mutual understanding with your Antagonist, and change the relationship for the better? Nothing could stop you from writing your own story in your own way. 

You’d have the freedom to develop a narrative that suits you best. 

In order to start relating to our Antagonist on our own terms, we have to become wiser to its daily shenanigans. As long as we’re convinced of its rhetoric, it’ll continue to rule over us. 

It’ll continue to dictate our life. 

It takes a wise person to be able to avoid one’s Antagonist’s whims, but when we time and time again find ourselves stuck in the muddy middle, it’s upon us to start developing new and clever ways to finagle ourselves out from the middle of its sticky mud.

Want to read more? Click below to order “The Wisdom of Getting Unstuck.”

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