Is Synagogue Politics Kosher?

Is synagogue politics kosher? You bet. It goes back to an early era of rabbinic Judaism in the second century.

Here's our proof.

There’s a Talmudic narrative in bavli Berakhot 27b-28a that explains how the patriarch Gamaliel was deposed from his position.

Or, translated into contemporary terms, this passage reports on how a rabbi was humiliated in his shul in front of the board of directors over some ostensible dispute over rituals and his contract was not renewed, the gossip that ensued, how a young replacement rabbi was hustled in, and then how the original rabbi wrangled his way back into his position.
One time a student came before R. Joshua.

He said to him, “Is the evening prayer optional or compulsory?”

Joshua said to him, “Optional.”

He came before R. Gamaliel.

He said to him, “Is the evening prayer optional or compulsory?”

He said to him, “Compulsory.”

He said to him, “Did not R. Joshua say to me, ‘Optional’?”

Gamaliel said to him, “Wait until the shield bearers enter the study house.”

When the shield bearers entered, the inquirer stood up and asked, “Is the evening prayer optional or compulsory?”

Said to him R. Gamaliel, “Compulsory.”

Said R. Gamaliel to the sages, “Is there no one who disagrees in this matter?”

Said to him R. Joshua, “No.”

Gamaliel said to him, “Did they not say in your name, ‘Optional’?

Gamaliel said to him, “Joshua, stand on your feet and they will bear witness against you.”

R. Joshua stood on his feet and said, “If I were alive and the witness dead--the living can contradict the dead. But now that I am alive and he is alive, how can the living contradict the living?”

R. Gamaliel sat and expounded and R. Joshua stood on his feet until the entire assembly shouted.

And said to Huspit the Turgeman, “Stop!” And he stopped.

They said, “How long will he go on troubling him?

“On the last New Year he troubled him; with regard to the firstling concerning the incident of R. Sadoq he troubled him; here too he has troubled him, Let us remove him.

“Whom shall we appoint in his stead? Shall we appoint R. Joshua? No, since he is party to the dispute. Shall we appoint R. Aqiva? No, he might be punished since he has no ancestral merit.

“Rather we shall appoint R. Eleazar b. Azariah.

“For he is a sage and he is tenth in descent from Ezra.

“He is a sage—for if one questions him, he can answer.

“He is rich—if he must go pay honor to the caesar, he too can go.

“And he is tenth in descent from Ezra—for he has ancestral merit and will not be punished.”

They came and said to him, “Would it please the master to head the academy?”

He said to them, “I will go and consult the members of my household.”

He went and consulted his wife.

She said to him, “They may remove you.”

He said to her, “Let a man use a valuable cup one day and let it be broken the next.”

She said to him, “You have no white hair.”

On that day he was eighteen years old. A miracle befell him and eighteen rows of his hair turned white.

This is as R. Eleazar b. Azariah said, “Behold I am as a seventy year old.”
... more in my book p. 145...

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