The Jewish Eye
Story of The Churban - Part 13
Part 13: Celebration, Roman Style
The Romans were eager to celebrate their victory over Israel in the only way they knew how- with ruthless cruelty and violence. Titus first traveled to the Middle Eastern cities, where thousands of Jewish captives were tortured and murdered, all in the name of celebration. In the year 71 C.E., Titus sailed to Rome. The emperor Vespaisan, Titus' father, came out to greet him, accompanied by the Roman masses.
The young and handsome captives were forced to march down the streets of Rome, while carrying the golden keilim of the Bais Hamikdash. Titus ordered a huge arch to be constructed which depicted his victory over Israel. The Arch of Titus, which can still be seen today, has images of the Jewish captives in chains, carrying the Menorah. The celebration culminated at the temple where the Romans paid homage to their idol.
The Romans also minted a special coin in honor of their victory. One side of the coin showed an image of Emperor Vespasian's head, and the other side showed a woman in chains crying under a palm tree, guarded by a Roman soldier. "Judea Capta" (Judea is captured) was inscribed on the coin.
The Keilim of the Bais Hamikdash were placed in the Temple of Jupiter in Rome until 455 C.E. In that year, the Vandals conquered the city, looted all of its riches, and hauled them to their capital, Carthage, North Africa. The location of the keilim today is unknown.
The Roman emperor, Vespasian, died nine years after Yerushalayim was conquered, in 79 C.E. His son, Titus, succeeded him. Titus ruled Rome for only two-and-half years. In that short amount of time, Rome was plagued with three tragedies, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a widespread fire in Rome, and an outbreak of the bubonic plague. Titus utilized the Roman treasuries to rehabilitate the nation after these tragedies.
Some said that Titus was repentant over the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash. While Titus was the Emperor, Rabban Gamliel, who had become the leader of the Jews after the death of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, traveled together with Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua to Rome. They pleaded with him to alleviate the abuse of the Roman governors in Judea.
In Rome, the Sages saw the exiled Jewish children playing in the streets. The children were playing with piles of dirt, pretending they were piles of grain. "This much must be set aside for the terumah tithe, and this much must be set aside for the maser tithe," (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 7:13).
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