Yoma 65 - 71
“If not for the awesomeness (of G-d), how could this one nation of Israel have survived among the nations of the world?”
The Sage Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi offered this explanation for the “truth” of the Anshei Knesset Hagedola returning the description of “Awe” as an appropriate way to describe and praise G-d.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi explains on our daf in detail the process and reason for restoring this description of G-d. Moshe Rebbeinu originally referred to G-d as “Nora” – Awesome. However, since G-d did not prevent the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash, the Prophet Yirmiyahu decreed that the title of “Awe” not be continued. The Anshei Knesset Hagedola, however, subsequently decreed the “truth” to be that the Awe of G-d was indeed evident even during the destruction, since the nations that gathered to destroy the Jewish People succeeded in destroying only the buildings but not the nation. The “one sheep” among the mighty nations was protected by the Awesomeness of G-d.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi further explains that this group of Prophets and Sages who led the Jewish People following the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash was called the “Anshei Knesset HaGedola” since they returned “the Crown” (recognition of the awe and greatness of G-d) to its former, original status.
- Yoma 69b
“When the Rabbis took leave of one another in Pumpadita they said the following beracha to each other: ‘May Mechaiyei Chaim (G-d) give you long, good and productive lives’.”
This custom of the Sages of the yeshiva in Pumpadita in Bavel is taught on our daf by the Sage Rabba. Why did they refer to G-d by this seemingly unusual name of “Mechayei Chaim”, and why did they give each other this particular beracha at this time of taking leave from one another and from the yeshiva?
The Ein Yaakov explains they were now going home from the yeshiva where they had been learning Torah together. The Torah is a “Torah of life”. Since they were pausing from this study of Torah together, they gave each other a beracha and said a tefilla prayer that their lives should continue in the best way possible despite their lack of joint Torah-of-life study in the yeshiva. Therefore, they referred to G-d as the “Giver of Life” and expressed their hope that G-d would continue to provide each of them with the very best in the future.
- Yoma 71a