Jerusalem versus Yavneh – Part 1
As Vespasian (born 9- died 79) advanced on his stranglehold siege of Jerusalem and prepared his next moves against the Jewish community the situation bordered on the catastrophic.
The Torah committed Jewish leadership led by Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai (born 30 bce – died 90) were faced with a staggering dilemma and almost unearthly choices.
Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik explains that Rabban Yochanan faced an impossible choice. Should he ask for Jerusalem and the temple but risk losing everything or should he ask for the sages of Yavne, enabling Jewish survival but relinquishing the temple?
Rabban Yochanan had to make the decision immediately without consultation with his colleagues. Nor could he find the answer in any book of Jewish law; he had to rely on intuition.
Dorot HaRishonim writes: Their eyes and heart were focused on how to extricate the nation from this upheaval. On how to uplift the nation, now faced with the destruction, through a new location earmarked to be the heart of the people. A new center which even during the war could rehabilitate the Jewish nation. They needed to create a fresh focal point from which to send out a bright light of hope to the people. A place on which the people could lean upon and garner emotional, physical and spiritual support.
See: The Emperors and The Jews, Mosaica Press (2019)