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Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel

Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel


The great and famous sage Hillel had eighty most distinguished disciples; thirty of them were said to be worthy to enjoy the Divine Presence as Moses did; another thirty were said to be great enough to have stopped the sun in its path as Yehoshua did; the remaining twenty were "in the middle" The greatest of all of Hillel's disciples was Jonathan ben Uzziel; the smallest among them was Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who was familiar with all the hidden secrets of the holy Torah.

Thus our Sages described the greatness of Hillel and his disciples. And from the greatness of Hillel's smallest disciple Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, we can imagine the greatness of Hillel's greatest disciple Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel!

The Sages related that when Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel was busy studying the holy Torah, a bird flying over him at that moment would be burned!

The great sage Shammai, who was the Av Beth Din (Chief Justice), had a very high opinion of Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel. The Talmud mentions a case, where Shammai came to discuss a point of law with him. It so happened that a rich Jew had willed all his possessions to Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel as his own children unfortunately did not live up to the way of the Torah. What did Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel do when he inherited such a large fortune? He retained one third; donated one third to the Beth Hamikdosh, and the other third to the heirs.

The old sage Shammai came to Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel to question his right to return part of the inheritance to the heirs, against the wishes of their father. Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel did not agree to the objections of Shammai. He argued that if he was the rightful owner of the property to donate part of it to the Beth Hamikdosh, he had the same right to return part of it to the heirs, for he could do With the inheritance as he pleased. Shammai was forced to admit that Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel was right.

Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel became especially famous through his interpretation of the Torah, called Targum Jonathan, that he left us.

Our Sages relate that when Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel wrote his commentary on the books of the Prophets, the Holy Land trembled and a heavenly voice; called out: "Who has dared to reveal My secrets to mortal men?" Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel then arose and declared: "I am the one responsible for revealing Your holy secrets to mankind. But not to do myself honor, nor for the glory of my ancestors did I do this, but solely so that the Jews may understand what the Prophets have told them."

When he intended writing an interpretation of the Kethuvim (Holy Writings; the third part of T'NaCh - Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim), he was forbidden to do so, because they reveal secrets which must not be revealed till Moshiach (The Messiah) comes.

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Anonymous MA March 20, 2014

Jonathan ben Uzziel never married From what I understand from legend, Jonathan ben Uzziel never married; he was a tsaddik who immersed all of his time in Torah Study. He died relatively young and unmarried, he stated that if anyone came to is grave to pray, he or she would be blessed with a soul lots of singles go to his grave to say Tehillim. Reply

Chana Ben David Mitspe Yericho, Israel June 13, 2012

Rabbi Uziel I heard that Rabbi Uziel was sad that the girls of that time weren't getting married due to poverty. He would take them in and fix their teeth, give them good nutrition, and they would apply oils to their skin and beautify their hair, Then they would be married. Is this true? I had assumed the Rabbi was married, or else how could he have done this? Now someone informed me he did not marry. Another account says was married. What is the truth?