22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
 
dot  Add to favorites   dot  Set as homepage  
 
   
    Create an account    |    Sign in
  
    My Account     Orders History     Help
 
 
  My Country:  
  United States   
 
   Language:  
  English   
 
   My Currency:  
  US Dollar   
 
   
Home Page Torah Portion Spirituality and Faith Foundations of Judaism Inspirational Stories Family & Daily Life Holidays and Fast Days Israel and Society
   Shabbat     Hitbodedut (Personal Prayer)     Holiness for Men and Women     Jewish Daily Life and Halacha             
 
  More  
 
 
 
Rabbinic Leaders  
 
HomeFoundations of JudaismRabbinic LeadersOnkelos
 
  Advanced Search
   Articles
 
   Search
 
            
 

Onkelos    

Onkelos



The initial translation of the Torah into Aramaic was in the time of Ezra, but most of the Jews forgot it. It was taught to Onkelos, who wrote it down again...

 



Onkelos the Convert
 
 
(ca. 35 C.E. - ca. 120 C.E.) In Masechet Berachot, the Sages urge all Jews to study the weekly parsha “Twice with the ‘Mikra’ (text) and once with the ‘Targum’.”
 
Who was Onkelos? This question is partially answered in Masechet Megilah 3a, where we find, “Rabbi Yirmiyah (alt: Rabbi Chiya bar Abba) said, ‘The translation of the Torah was made by Onkelos the Convert,  that he learned from Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. The translation of the Prophets was made by Yonatan ben Uziel, who learned it from Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi.’” The Gemara later asks from a source in Nechemiah that the “Targum” came into existence in the time of Ezra, several hundred years before Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua and Onkelos the Convert! The Gemara answers that while it is true that the initial translation of the Torah into Aramaic was done in the time of Ezra, the vast majority of the Jewish People forgot it. However, the tradition came down to Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, who taught it to Onkelos, who wrote it down again for all of Israel.

What do we know about the conversion of Onkelos? The Talmud tells us in Masechet Gittin (56b-57a) that on the return of Titus to Rome from Yerushalayim, where he had defiled and destroyed the Holy Temple, God wanted to drown him with a huge wave. Titus said, “The God of the Jews has power only on water, where he defeated Pharaoh...come and do battle with me on land.” God said, “O wicked son and grandson of wicked men...I have a certain small creature; go onto land and do battle with it.” When Titus reached land, a flea entered his nose, went into his brain where it proceeded to grow immensely, causing Titus indescribable pain. On his deathbed, he told his servants, “After I die, cremate me and scatter my ashes over the Seven Seas, so that the G-d of the Jews will not be able to find me and bring me to Justice.”

At this time in history, Rome was a persecutor of Israel, but at the same time, many thousands of Romans, impressed with the religion of the Jews, and with their fierce devotion to it, were converting to Judaism. In the same Gemara, we find, “Onkelos, son of Kalonykos, was the son of Titus’ sister, and he wished to convert to Judaism. He raised by witchcraft the spirit of Titus from the dead. He asked his uncle, ‘Who is on top in the World-to-Come?’ Titus answered, ‘Israel.’ Onkelos asked further, ‘I am thinking of converting to Judaism. What is your opinion of that?’ The spirit answered, ‘The Jews have to fulfill too many Laws – you will not be able to do it all. Instead, persecute Israel, and you will be on top, at least while you are alive.’ Onkelos asked him, ‘What is your punishment?’ He answered, ‘What I decreed upon myself. Every day I have to find wood, which is used to burn me, and my ashes are scattered over the Seven Seas.’” Despite the advice of his uncle, Onkelos did convert to Judaism, and studied Torah under the greatest Sages of the Jewish People. So great and holy was his translation of the Torah into Aramaic, the language of the People at that time and the language of the Talmud, that we find in Berachot (8a-8b), “Rav Huna bar Yehuda (alt: Rabbi Ami) said, “A person should always finish the Torah with the Community by reciting the text twice and the Targum once, and even for place-names like Atros and Divon (where the Targum seems not to add much by the mere repetition of the names). For anyone who does so will have his lifetime increased.”
 




New Comment    New Comment
   See More Articles By Breslev Israel staff
   Read more about Rabbinic Leaders




Top of article    Top of article       Email This Article    Email This Article          Share to Facebook       Print version    Print version


 Join the distribution list Join the distribution list
 
 
  
If you would like to receive other related articles or Breslev.co.il features via e-mail, please enter your e-mail address here:

   

 Related Articles Related Articles
 
 

 
Meet Rabbi Eli Goldsmith               Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe               Rabbi Moshe Isserles - the Rama
 
 Meet Rabbi Eli Goldsmith  Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe  Rabbi Moshe Isserles - the Rama


  0 Talkbacks for this article     

Add Your CommentAdd Your Comment    Add Your Comment    

 
 
  
In Honor of:    In Memory of:
  
 
Like What You Read?
 
Help Breslev Israel spread the light of Rebbe Nachman
across the globe, and be a partner in making a better world.
 
Click here to support Breslev.co.il
  
 
 
 Products of the Day Products of the Day
 
 
 
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 
 
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 Most talked about Most talked about
 
 
 
 
Up  1 2 3  Down
 
 
 Most read Most read
 
 
 
 
Up  1 2 3  Down
 
 
 Facebook Facebook
 
 
 
 Mailing List Mailing List
 
 
 
Subscribe Here:   
 
   
 

 
 



  
 
 
open toolbar