Friday, April 08, 2005

Rome and Romi

The Gemara in Avodah Zarah 10b says that Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius--see R. Aaron Hyman, Toledos Tanna'im Ve-Amora'im, vol. 2 pp. 580-582) and R. Yehudah Ha-Nasi had a tunnel between their two homes that they would travel each day. It is certainly possible that there was a miraculous tunnel between Rome and Israel that someone could miraculously travel in under a day, and it is also possible that this is all an allegorical description of a close friendship that is not meant to be taken literally.

However, the Seder Ha-Doros (sv. R. Yossi ben Kisma, cited by R. Reuven Margoliyos, Margoliyos Ha-Yam, 32b:19) quotes R. Moshe Alshikh's commentary to Shir Ha-Shirim 7:6 that, living in the land of Israel, he had personally seen a place called Rome, near the city of Sephoris. Similarly, R. Shlomo Ibn Parhon writes in his Mahberes Ha-Arukh that Rome (with an aleph) is the city in Italy, while Rome (or Romi, with a yud) is a town in Israel.

About this Palestinian Rome, R. Moshe Alshikh wrote that it was from there that there was a tunnel between Antoninus and R. Yehudah Ha-Nasi.

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