The Lydda Way

Periodically I find myself doing research on different areas of halacha. Usually my learning follows the course of a specific  halachic issue in response to someone’s query, but recently it has gone in a totally different direction. It started with a student of mine from Wash U who is contemplating making Aliyah. This person wanted to explore the obligation to return to the Land. Amidst my research I discovered that in the time of Ezra the inhabitants of Lod where one of the few who returned after the Babylonian captivity( Ezra 2:33). Not knowing much about Lod besides Ben Gurion International Airport I decided to dig a little deeper.

In 43 CE, Cassius, the Roman governor of Syria, sold the inhabitants of Lod into slavery. During the First Jewish–Roman War, the Roman proconsul of Syria, Cestius Gallus, razed the town on his way to Jerusalem in 66 CE. It was occupied by Emperor Vespasian in 68 CE.

During the Kitos War, the Roman army laid siege to Lod, then called Lydda, where the rebel Jews had gathered under the leadership of Julian and Pappus. The distress became so great that the patriarch Rabban Gamaliel II, who was shut up there and died soon afterwards, permitted fasting even on Ḥanukkah. Other rabbis condemned this measure. Lydda was next taken and many of the Jews were executed; the “slain of Lydda” are often mentioned in words of reverential praise in the Talmud. Over Lydda’s history it’s inhabitants have consistently shown tremendous self sacrifice. It seems that there is a Shitah, an approach, developed in Lydda that is unique. Not matter it be war or aliyah they have always been about self sacrifice.

To that ends I have been working on a lithograph on my research of the way of learning in Lydda. It seems appropriate to name my work the Loda Shitah. If this is well received I will turn my attention to more geographic studies. The next obvious place would be Afula. So stay tuned for my Afula Shitah.

Chag Purim Sameakh


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