Trajan’s Day

March 3 117 – 12 Adar 3877


Emperor Trajan died as the Diaspora Revolt drew to a close. The Jews of Cyprus, Cyrenaica (in today’s Libya) and Alexandria had risen in rebellion in 115, while Trajan was busy fighting the Parthians. The scholium to Megillat Ta’anit records that the emperor was about to kill two Jewish brothers, Pappus and Luliani, but was struck down himself instead. The date of Trajan’s death is therefore listed in Ta’anit as one of the days on which fasting is forbidden. No explanation of the pair’s crime against the emperor is given, but commentator Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki (Rashi) notes that they were accused of killing Trajan’s daughter. As Trajan actually died in the summer of 117, it seems likely that the judge of this anecdote who issued the execution order and then expired was someone else.