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The Story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza

The Story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza


The Sages tell us the story behind Emperor Nero's conviction that the Jews were rebelling against Rome. As mentioned earlier, the nation had fallen to a low spiritual state characterized by baseless hatred. The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza was the pivotal event that ignited Nero's rage and caused the destruction of the Holy Temple:

A Jew who had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza made a feast. He told his servant to invite Kamtza, but by mistake the servant invited Bar Kamtza. Bar Kamtza took this as a gesture of forgiveness and put on his finest clothes and attended the feast. But when the host noticed Bar Kamtza, he demanded that he leave.

Bar Kamtza was embarrassed. "Since I am here," he requested, "let me stay. I will pay for whatever I eat and drink." But the host refused his offer.

"Then allow me to pay half the cost of the whole feast," begged Bar Kamtza.


"Then I am willing to pay the full cost of the feast, but do not embarrass me any more..."

The host had Bar Kamtza dragged from the feast and thrown into the streets.

Bar Kamtza stood up, brushed the dust from his clothing and said to himself: "Since the rabbis were present at the feast and did not stop him, this shows they agreed with him. I'll slander them to the Emperor!"

Bar Kamtza went to Emperor Nero and told him that the Jews were planning a rebellion against him. "How do I know that to be true?" Nero asked. "Send an offering to the Temple and see if it will be accepted," Bar Kamtza said.

Nero sent a choice calf with Bar Kamtza, along with a delegation of Romans. During the journey, Bar Kamtza secretly made a blemish on the animal, disqualifying the animal as a sacrifice, and the animal was not accepted.

The delegation returned to Rome and told the emperor that his offering had been refused. Emperor Nero was furious, and the ramifications of his fury brought about one of the darkest chapters in our history.

Rabbi Elazar said, "Come and see how great is the punishment for causing embarrassment—for G‑d assisted Bar Kamtza [i.e., He allowed Bar Kamtza's plot to succeed because of the embarrassment caused him] and He destroyed His house and burned His Tabernacle."

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Anonymous December 22, 2016

Response to "Wow... this was seriously lacking" this is meant as a mere summary of the story, if you want to learn it more in depth then there are other articles out there.
I found this very satisfying in assistance with identify bare facts. Reply

Paul and Barbara Agle WNY July 27, 2015

Wow... this was seriously lacking This share was so basic that it was not even useful. The whole message and learning was skimmed over. This story needs to be explained to its fullest glory. Tisha B'Av demands this story be told and told fully. Nero converted to Judaism because of this. Nero broke the cycle of baseless hatred for a while until another foolish and proud hate filled man rose to complete G-d's good plan. Why did G-d chose Rome to destroy the Temple? So no one could have it? No. So we all could be it. Put this on the children's page or give us meat to eat.
Thank you but I'd like more please and I have come to expect more from Chabad than this... I was left hungry after eating at this table. Reply

Michael Helfield Montreal, Quebec via September 14, 2010

Josephus I think we should include reference to Josephus here as the main source for our information on the revolt. Also, the reference to "Europeans" is anachronistic. And finally, maybe there could be a distinction between what can be verified to have really happened, and what moral lessons the Rabbis/Sages drew from these events. Reply

David Bet Shemesh, Israel September 6, 2009

R. Zekharia ben Avkulas? Yashar Kochachem, but yhy was R. Zekharia ben Avkulas omitted from the story? In my hunble opinion, the main lesson of the story, as taught by R. Yochanan, is the misplaced humility of R. Zekharia ben Avkulas that led to the destruction of the Temple. Reply