By Reuven Hammer
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Extra resources for Sifre: A Tannaitic Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy
W h e n c e do we learn that Lebanon refers to a k i n g ? From the verses (A great eagle) . . came unto Leb anon, and took the top of the cedar (Ezek. 1 7 : 3 ) , and (And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying), "The thistle that was in Lebanon (sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon") (2 K i n g s 1 4 : 9 ) . A n d whence do we learn that Lebanon refers to the Temple? From the verses Thou art Gilead unto Me, the head of Lebanon; (yet surely will I make thee a wilderness) (Jer.
Since the prob lem of exile was a real one, Israel-centered Sifre went out of its way to indicate that such observance outside of the Land was no more than practice for the true observance, which can be practiced only in the Land itself. Taken as a whole, then, the aggadic sections of this work reflect the basic value scheme of Pharisaic J u d a i s m , and take a stance in tended to strengthen the J e w s ' resolve in the face of adversity. T h e historical background is that of a time of trouble, suffering, even disaster: the situation of the J e w i s h people in the Land of Israel during and after the Hadrianic persecution and the failure of the B a r K o k h b a revolt.
Ezek. 3 3 : 7 - 9 ) . Piska 14 And ye answered me, and said, "The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do" ( 1 : 1 4 ) : Moses said, " Y o u should have said, 'Moses, our teacher, from w h o m is it best to learn Torah? From you, or from your students, or from your students' students? ' as it is said, And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; (he did neither eat bread, nor drink water) (Exod. 3 4 : 2 8 ) , and Then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights; I did neither eat bread nor drink water (9:9).