Photos: Kever of Raban Gamliel of Yavneh

Photos: Mordechai Lubecki

Near the city of Yavneh, in an area known today as “Gan HaSanhedrin,” a large stone structure built by Muslims in the 13th century stands there, topped by two domes. A tradition holds that this is the kever of Raban Gamliel of Yavneh.

The kever of Raban Gamliel is located near the city of Yavneh, in an area known today as “Gan HaSanhedrin.” A large stone structure built by Muslims in the 13th century stands there, topped by two domes. The site includes a shul and a large hall, adjacent to a sprawling lawn.

Raban Gamliel served as the Nasi of the Sanhedrin in Yavneh, during the period between the Great Revolt, which ended with the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and the Bar Kokhba Revolt, after which the center of Jewish life shifted to the Galil. His father, Raban Shimon ben Gamliel the Elder, was one of the “Asara Harugei Malchus,” the great leaders whom the Romans executed during the two revolts. Raban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who negotiated with the Romans about the terms of Jerusalem’s surrender, succeeded Raban Shimon. Alongside his famous request of “give me Yavneh and its sages,” Raban Yochanan also sought “the lineage of Raban Gamliel the Elder,” as he aimed to restore the official presidency to one of its natural heirs. Indeed, once the Sanhedrin became established in Yavneh, and with changes in Roman leadership at the end of the 1st century CE, conditions were favorable, and Raban Gamliel was appointed as Nasi.

Until the 13th century, there was no specific tradition or documented evidence about the location of the kever, and it is notably absent from the records of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, a prominent traveler of the time. However, in a list of tzaddikim’s graves compiled by Rabbi Yaakov HaShaliach in the 13th century, it is indeed mentioned that Raban Gamliel’s grave has “a very beautiful dome and it is a place of prayer for Ishmaelites. The building is magnificent and called Abu Huraira.” (Abu Huraira was one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, and indeed the Muslim ruler who constructed the grave attributed it to Abu Huraira, although this identification contradicts another Muslim tradition according to which Abu Huraira was buried in Medina in Saudi Arabia.)

R’ Ishtori Haparchi, who ascended to the Land of Israel in 1315, wrote in his book “Kaftor Vaferach” about this tomb: “In Yavneh, you will find Raban Gamliel today in a very beautiful building on his marker.” Today, a curtain lies over the presumed tomb marker, inscribed with a quote from Raban Gamliel: “I will not listen to you to remove from me the kingdom of Heaven even for one hour” (Mishnah Berachos 2:5) – a reference to Raban Gamliel’s insistence on fulfilling the mitzvah of Shema even when he was exempt according to Halacha.

Photos by Mordechai Lubecki

YouTube player

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

advertise package