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After Auschwitz and the rise of a modern Jewish State with a Jewish army besieged by enemies, one might conclude that the only political response of the Jews must be that of the Zealots and Rabbi Akiva, that of fighting back against the oppressor.
As Jews and Zionists--whether in Israel or the Diaspora--we have strayed too far from the world of Yohanan and Yavneh and have become too immersed in the romance of armed rebellion and the messianism of the Zealots and Masada, Akiva, and Betar.
Had the sage asked for Jerusalem to be saved, the Romans would have denied the request, especially since it was from the capital city that the Zealots controlled their rebellion.
When the Zealots refused to listen - accommodation with the enemy being viewed as traitorous - Rabbi Yochanan reigned illness and then death; his disciples carried him on a bier to the city gate, where they demanded to be allowed to pass beyond the walls to bury their master.
The performance itself - set on a stark stage with full orchestra - featured Davis Gaines, known for his long-running performances in ``Phantom of the Opera,'' in the role as leader of the zealots.