Jerusalem: Menahem Press / Bar-Ilan University Press, 1984. First English Edition. Cloth. 4to, black cloth, dust jacket, 536 pages. Good + / Poor. Item #741
Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was one of the most prominent tannaim of the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E. Though beginning his religious studies late in life--and over the strong objections of his father--Eliezer became a disciple of R. Johanan ben Zakkai. The latter so admired Eliezer's retentive memory that he said, his colleague was "a cemented cistern that loses not a drop" (Pirke Avot 2.8).
When the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Eliezer and Joshua b. Hananiah famously managed to carry their master, R. Zakkai, through the lines concealed in a casket.
Subsequently, R. Eliezer became a colleague of R. Galamliel II and member of the Sanhedron that convened at Jamnia. He also married Gamaliel's formidable sister, Emma Shalom. Thereafter, Eliezer presided over religious instruction at Lydda.
Because of his literal-mindedness and Shammaite Conservatism, R. Eliezer came increasingly into conflict with his fellow teachers. He also once cited favorably as halakkah a saying of "Ben Pandera" (aka "Jesus of Nazareth") and thus seemed a heretic. Accordingly, his fellow teachers--it seems with considerable discomfort--finally decided to ostracise him. This traumatic event may have suggested to Eliezer the ethical maxim, "Keep away from what is indecent and from that which appears to be indecent."
Broken in spirit, Eliezer retired to Caesarea where he died full of penitence and embittered. Notewithstanding his ostracism, R. Eliezer ha-Gadol ["the Great"] is the sixth most frequently mentioned sage in the Mishnah, and very worthy of study given his precision.
Internally clean, bright, and tight copy, though Ex Library with pocket, a few stamps, and tattered dust jacket.