An enigmatic Rabbinic tradition relates that a certain Ben Stada advocated some type of cult or religion outside the framework of normative Judaism, accordingly, he was entrapped by witnesses specifically planted for that purpose, apprehended, brought before a court and executed. These events took place, according to the Rabbis, in the Palestinian city of Lydda1).
Everyone plays and that, of course, includes children. In an ideal world, there would be literary traditions, archaeological remains and artistic renditions, which would enable the reconstruction of toys. Unfortunately, the situation does not exist for ancient Jewish society. For the most part, there are depictions in rabbinic literature and it is those toy traditions which I examine.
The study begins with those toys explicitly connected to halakhic issues, firstly with those traditions in which the toy is essential to the law and afterwards to those in which the toy is tangential to the law. The study then deals with those toys mentioned in a nonlegal rabbinic framework. Finally, I discuss toys that were popular in the Greco-Roman world but not mentioned in rabbinic literature. I seek to determine whether descriptions of toys in rabbinic literature and set within the broader Greco-Roman world are sufficient for visualization.