There are no words to explain how much following Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s path has helped me in every area of my life, gashmi and ruchani.
Following Rabbenu’s advice of doing an hour a day of hitbodedut every single day has literally saved my life, and changed so much about it in the direction of good.
And that’s just the very tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the ‘good’ that Rebbe Nachman has done for me.
Each time I went to Uman, I have come back with tremendous presents of self-development, self-awareness, mental healing – physical healing! – open miracles, mamash.
So, when I started to trip over some interesting information pertaining to Rabbenu’s extended family, I knew that wherever it was going to lead, Rabbenu himself would continue to be the light of our generation, the fire that will continue burning until Moshiach really does come.
But that’s not to say I wanted to put it out there, because I know that not everyone has had my first-hand experience of the Breslov path, and the true goodness that is Rebbe Nachman.
But I seem to have reached that point in my research of what was really going on in the Jewish community back 250 years ago, that I can’t seem to dodge it any more.
Before we continue, I just want to point out that the holiest souls always came out of less than optimal backgrounds.
Abraham’s father, Terach, was chief ‘idol maker’ for Nimrod, and Sarah’s father was Haran, Abraham’s brother who died in the furnace.
Sarah’s brother was of course the infamous Lot, who caused a massive scandal by sleeping with and impregnating both his daughters.
Then, we have the yucky, evil Esav, chief murderer and rapist, and brother of Yaakov Avinu.
Oh, and I skipped over Rivka, whose brother Lavan was the king of black magic in the whole world, and either Bilaam himself, or at the least his close ancestors.
So that pattern of having the holiest of holies come out of some of the yuckiest, yuck families has continued from the very beginning of the Jewish people.
And has continued down to our days. That’s part of what makes all this so very confusing and difficult to unpick, because externally, ‘Esav and Yaakov’ are twins. It’s only on the inside that the real difference between them – the difference between good and evil, heaven and hell, manifests.
And even Yitzhak Avinu was fooled by the fake-pious Esav.
So, with that introduction out the way, let’s dive into to today’s slice of real Jewish history.
The story begins with a man named Veital (Chaim) Heine Ephraim.
In THIS post, I started to set out more how the Portuguese conversos ‘morphed’ into the Ashkenazi bankers who were funding the haskalah, and I introduced you to banker Daniel Itzig.
Let’s refresh your memory about Daniel Itzig, and his links with Veital Heine Ephraim, before we move on:
This from Wikipedia:
Itzig was a banker and a mintmaster in partnership with Veitel-Heine Ephraim. Together they leased all the mints in Saxony and Prussia. During the Seven Years’ War they assisted Frederick the Great in debasing the Saxonian currency… Itzig was one of the very few Jews in Prussia to receive full citizenship privileges, as a “Useful Jew”. He became extraordinarily wealthy as a consequence…
In 1761 he began planning a school for poor Jewish boys in Berlin, and in 1778 his son together with [his son-in-law] Daniel Friedlander opened the first “free school” (Freischule) called “Hinuch Neorim”, Hebrew: ‘Teaching the Youth’. The school and adjacent printing house later became one of the main institutions of the Haskalah movement.
Itzig was the official head (‘Oberältester’) of the Jewish community in Berlin from 1764 until his death in 1799.
Daniel Itzig and his son-in-law, David Friedlander, were the leaders of the haskalah movement in Berlin, that quickly morphed into Reform, a generation later.
Two of Itzig’s grand-daughters married two of the sons of Moses Mendelssohn.
So Daniel Itzig and his business partner ‘Veitel Heine Ephraim’ are bang, slap in the middle of this whole big Reform-Frankist-Freemason hot mess.
Me being me, I decided to take a closer look at who this ‘Veitel Heine (Chaim) Ephraim’ actually was, and here is where the story starts to get interesting, again.
First things first, go HERE to get a basic rundown of how Ephraim and Itzig were engaged in one of the biggest currency scams in European history.
Here’s a taster:
Veitel Heine Ephraim, 1703 – 16 May 1775 in Berlin) was jeweller to the Prussian Court, a silk entrepreneur in Potsdam, the chairman of the Jewish congregation in Berlin/Prussia, and since 1756 Mintmaster in Saxony and from 1758 also in Prussia.
During the Seven Years’ WarFrederick the Great devalued the Prussian coin five times in order to finance the war; debased coins were produced with the help from Ephraim and Daniel Itzig, and spread outside Prussia: in Saxony, Poland, and Kurland.
Ephraim and his companion Itzig became infamous for adding copper, up to 70%, into the fake coins, known as Ephraimiten. The coin fraud of the entrepreneurs became an existential element of war financing.
Ephraim become super wealthy as a result of all of his currency fiddling.
In 1750, the King of Prussia also appointed him “senior elder” of the Berlin Jewish community. He was a seriously big deal, both historically, in the story of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Seven Years War, and financially, in the development of currency markets (and gambling on currencies, and inflation); and apparently, also within the Jewish community itself.
And yet, I’m willing to bet that you’ve never heard of him before now.
We already know that so many of the families caught up with the Sabbatian-Frankists maintained multiple identities and different names, depending on the ‘role’ they were acting out at any given time. So, given the paucity of details about ‘Veital Heine Ephraim’ in official Jewish history, I decided to try to track him down in the ‘real world’, and see if I could start to figure out who he really was.
First stop was geni.
Here he is, together with a picture of his fabulous ‘Palais Ephraim’ that he built in Berlin, in 1762.
There’s the usual deliberate misinformation going on, on geni, with ‘additional generations’ that never existed being stuffed in all over the place, but here’s the lowdown:
Veitel Heine Ephraim married one Elke Frankel Neumark Mirels.
That name immediately catches my attention, as the Frankel / Teomim / Neumark / Mirels family keep popping up in the periphery of the Frankists, like a ghost at a wedding.
For example, you can see from the shot below that one ‘Esther Mirels Frankel Neumark’ is the mother of Rachel Ulmo, who is the wife of the Sabbatian ‘prophet’, the Eshel Avrham.
So, I know they are connected.
I know they are in the middle of all this, somehow, but each time I try to catch hold of the connection ‘in the real world’, I end up with a handful of dead ends that just make no logical sense.
But this time, it was different.
This is another name that has come across my radar repeatedly, as being part of some strange ‘cover up’, so now my curiosity is really piqued.
I start clicking through, to see who ‘Chaim Yonah Teomim II’s’ siblings are – and very soon, I see most of them are deep within Kevin Lawrence Hanit territory.
Aha! I must be on to something…
So then I switch track, and start trying to pin down his kids, instead.
One is married to a GOMPERZ (which links to the Bernays / Behrends I wrote about HERE.)
Another, Genendel, marries Simon Bondi – a name that is familiar from HERE.
Another one, Idel, marries the son of the ‘Pnei Yehoshua’ – R’ Jacob Joshua Falk.
He has a very interesting story, that his first wife, Leah Landau and daughter get killed in an explosion.
He was apparently also an enemy of Veital Chaim Efraim, and opponent of Yonatan Eibshutz – despite having Sabbatian literature in his own library:
Having displeased Veitel-Heine Ephraim, one of the most influential leaders of the community, by rendering a judgment against him, he was compelled at the expiration of his term of office (1734) to resign….
Soon afterward, the quarrel between Rabbis Yaakov Emden and Yonatan Eybeschütz broke out. Falk strongly opposed Eybeschütz, and was ultimately compelled to leave Frankfurt in 1750, due to the strong support Eybeschütz had there. He wandered from town to town until he came to Worms, where he remained for some years. He was recalled to Frankfurt; but his enemies prevented him from preaching in the synagogue, and he left the city a second time.
If you go HERE, you can see the list of many of his descendants, including Berensteins and Rosanes.
Maybe we’ll come back to him, we’ll see, as we have lots more to ‘catch up with’ in this post.
Another of ‘Chaim Yonah Teomim II’s kids is one ‘Chaya Bochner’, who marries Naftali Tzvi Hirsch Bochner, the ABD of Zbarazh.
They have a kid called ‘Esther’, who marries, Zvi Hirsh Margoliot, and then, apparently, remarries one Alexander Sender Margoliot, the ABD Dobromil, Przeworsk, Zbarazh and Satanow.
Hey, it’s that ‘Alexander Sender Margoliot’ name again, that haunts my dreams, and bedevils my waking moments.
I take a closer look, and here’s what I learn:
Keith Lawrence Hanit and Malka Mysels are all over the profiles for their family.
I already know what that means: dead ends, fake dates, fake names and relationships.
But I still learn that Esther and Alexander Sender Margoliot apparently have a lot of kids including a daughter called Chaya Rivka Ossatin.
That names sounds familiar so I click on, and I discover that she is the mother of Rebbe Nachman’s wife, Sashia.
But there are more surprises to come.
R’ Ephraim of Ossatin, Rabbenu’s father-in-law, actually lost his first wife and remarried. It’s possible that ‘Chaya Rivka Ossatin’ is the name of his second wife, and thus Sashia’s step-mother, instead of her biological mother.
That second wife made Rabbenu’s life very miserable, so he moved out of R’ Ephraim’s house, and went to Zlatipolia instead.
Next, I click on another daughter, ‘Deborah Bloch’, and I find out that she marries one Rabbi Uri Shraga Feiwel Block of Vilna.
That name sounds just so familiar….
If you go back to this post, you’ll see why:
Warning: here’s where we get into ‘mindblowing information’ territory.
In that post, I bring the story of one ‘Alexander Sender Bloch’ (above), who marries into the family of Russia’s richest man, Reb Isaac Zabludowsky.
The descendants of Alexander Sender Bloch include Dr Max Schur, Freud’s personal physician, who ‘euthanised’ him. But it’s the parents of ‘Alexander Sender Bloch’ who get my attention, because they are none other than:
Deborah Bloch and R’Uri Shraga Feiwel Bloch of Vilna.
But now I hit a big mystery, because ‘R’ Uri Shraga Feibush Bloch’ from Vilna is meant to be the son-in-law of the Vilna Gaon, R’ Eliyahu.
Again, here’s the relevant snippet from the ‘official’ Gaon genealogy by Chaim Freedman:
Tauba of Dubrovno daughter of Eliyahu Gaon of Vilna and Khana of Keidan, born c.1768, Vilna, Lithuania, married Uri Shraga Feibush of Dubrovno, son of Shlomo ?, ABD Dubrovno. Tauba died c.1812, Dubrovno, Byelorussia. Apparently died young, since her husband was known to have remarried, and few of her descendants are recorded. See the introduction to this book for a full explanation of the placement of Tauba as the youngest daughter of the Gaon.
Uri: Remarried after the death of first wife, Tauba. Other wives were Sarah Khaya, daughter of David, son of Pinkhas ben Azriel, author of Nakhalat Azriel and Feiga, the sister-in-law of Yitskhak Khalavitzer. Addressed rabbinic enquiry to Khaim of Volozhin (Binyan Shel Simkha).
Let’s try and sum up what’s going on here, as I know it’s really confusing.
It seems this is what’s going on.
Deborah Bloch, the daughter of Esther (nee Bochner) and Alexander Sender Margoliot marries Rabbi Uri Shraga Feiwel Bloch of Vilna.
This name is not at all common, so for once I have a strong case that any references to ‘Rabbi Uri Shraga Feiwel Bloch of Vilna’ are referring to the same person.
In the official ‘Gaon’ geneology, ‘Uri Shraga Feiwel’ marries the Gaon’s daughter Tauba. Tauba is a slang form of the name ‘Deborah’.
So, that would make Alexander Sender Margoliot the ‘real world’ name of the Vilna Gaon.
Why go to such great lengths to cover this information up?
There’s probably a few reasons. One of them is this:
As I’ve written about on a lot of different occasions now, most of the extended Shor family were hard-core Sabbateans, and then Frankists. Just the ‘Shor / Wolowskis’ openly converted, while other family members stayed ‘secret Sabbateans’ within the Jewish community.
Once the Sabbatean-Frankists blew up as such an awful affair, many of the people within the Jewish community who continued to be secret Sabbateans, in the mold of the Eshel Avraham, wanted to put a lot of ‘clear blue’ between their brand of more moderate Sabbateanism, and the radical antinomism of Frank and his followers.
So they changed their names, faked their genealogies, and tried to ‘airbrush out’ their obvious links to the Frankists, and Frank, as much as possible.
(This is a ‘giving the benefit of the doubt’ explanation….)
I went back to see if I could find any hints of Rabbi Uri Shraga Feiwel Bloch’s ‘other wives’ in the real world, just to double-check there were no other candidates for ‘Deborah Margoliot’.
So far, I have found nothing.
Rabbi Alexander Sender Margoliot Bloch is listed as being the Av Beit Din of Satanow.
Satanow plays an important role in the Frankist story. I will try to pull more of the sources together in another post.
It’s also linked to one of the ‘fathers of the haskalah’, Menachem Mendel Lefin, who in turn is connected to Joshua Zeitlin.
There’s so many repercussions of this piece of info, it’s going to take me a while to figure it all out again.
But let me leave you with the ‘plain English’ version of the ‘Rabbenu’ connection, in the meantime.
Rebbe Nachman’s mother-in-law, Chaya Rivka Ossatin, was Deborah Bloch’s sister.
That means that the wealthy ‘Alexander Sender Bloch’ who married the daughter of Isaac Zabludowsky was apparently the cousin of Sashia, Rebbe Nachman’s first wife.
That much appears to be certain in the ‘real world facts’ we’ve managed to pin down so far.
Additionally, if ‘Rabbi Alexander Sender Margoliot’ really is the Vilna Gaon, that also means that Deborah Bloch and Chaya Rivka Ossatin were the Vilna Gaon’s daughters.
And that, in turn, means that Rabbenu’s wife Sashia was the Vilna Gaon’s grand-daughter.
I know, I know, believe me I know.
All this is just so crazy.
But I’m still knee-deep in other information and material that suggests there is way more to unpick, still.
It’s also interesting to note that one of the people who gave Rabbenu’s ‘Likutei Moharan’ a haskama was Rabbi Ephraim Zalman Margoliot, of Brody, who made a fortune in banking the diamond trade.
He is either ‘Alexander Sender Margoliot’s’ brother, or nephew – and therefore, a close relative of Rebbe Nachman’s wife, Sashia.
We still didn’t really find out how ‘Veital Heine Ephraim’ fits into this picture.
But if God wills it, we’ll revisit this sometime soon, and try to tuck that loose end away neatly.
I think you’ve had enough crazy stuff for one post, in the meantime.
You can still find some useful information in Hebrew, on many of the people whose bios have been scrubbed or altered in English.
So if you go HERE, you’ll find the Hebrew Wikipedia entry for ‘Rabbi Alexander Sender Margoliot‘ – my candidate for the real name of the Vilna Gaon.
Here’s a snippet (Google translated, so please excuse the clunky English):
His grandfather, Rabbi Menachem Manish Margaliot, was the son of Rabbi Yitzchak Rabba of Yavrov and the husband of Hinda, the daughter of Rabbi Alexander Sander Shur , the “Tevuot Shor”. His father died at the age of 22 and he grew up with his brother and sister in Brody with their uncle Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Loftiner. In his youth he studied at Clois in Brody.
That Wiki entry also states that ‘Rabbi Alexander Sender Margoliot’ was considered to be the ‘Rabbi of most of the Sages of his generation’.
Given that he lived at the same time as the Vilna Gaon, that’s an interesting statement, to say the least.
According to the ‘official genealogy’ of the Vilna Gaon’s ancestors – which we’ve already pointed out on so many different occasions is full of mysterious gaps and things that just don’t make sense – the Gaon is descended from a Rabbi David Ashkenazi, whose father was Mordechai Ashkenazai.
In his book ‘The Mixed Multitude’, which brings a multitude of original ‘Frankist’ sources, Paweł Maciejko says that:
“Rabbi Moses David…overtly preached Sabbatianism in Podhadje, the same is true of Rabbi Mordechai Ashkenazi in Zolkiew.“
This Rabbi Mordechai Ashkenazi was a very close disciple of ‘Avraham Rovigo’, aka the Eshel Avraham. The two men actually wrote that book together.
I covered that back in THIS post, but it’s worth bringing it here again:
Here’s a link to an early edition of that book, and here’s a write up about it:
“[Zohar] Mordechai ben Yehudah Leib Ashkenazi and Abraham ben Michael Rovigo. [Hebrew Text:]. Sefer Eshel Avraham … be-ve’ur shiv’ah yeme Be-reshit ve-sod ta’ame Torah. Furth: Model of Ansbach in the House of Tsevi Hirsh ben Yosef Segal, 1701.
Mordechai ben Yehudah Leib Ashkenazi of Zolkiev, 1695-1702, Kabbalist and Shabbatean. Ashkenazi wrote the Eshel Avraham “based on a new interpretation of the Zohar he received from heaven.”….
Ashkenazi states that through the principles revealed in this book one can understand more of the Zohar in three months than others have been able to do in many years. This work has the enthusiastic approbations of the great rabbis of the period even though the author was a Shabbatean…..
Rovigo (circa 1650-1713) Italian kabbalist and Shabbatean. “Rovigo studied in Venice, where he became one of the leading pupils of Moses Zacuto in Kabbalah… Since he belonged to a wealthy family, Rovigo was able to devote himself exclusively to his studies; he became widely known as a supporter of pious enterprises and later also of Shabbatean activities…
Becoming one of the main supporters of the moderate wing of Shabbateanism, he gathered around him many secret followers of the movement… In 1700-1 he spent a whole year seeing through the press the Zoharic commentaries of Mordecai Ashkenazi (of Zolkiev, 1695-1702), in Fuerth, a place that seemed more sympathetic to secret Shabbateans than Mantua or Venice.”
I’ve been trying to track down that Sabbatean ‘Mordechai Ashkenazi’ for months.
It’s so strange to have potentially found him – finally – at the base of the Vilna Gaon’s family tree. In that ‘parallel universe’, David ben Mordechai Ashkenazi has a son, Moshe, who has a son, Eliyahu ‘Khassid’ – and his grandson was apparently the Vilna Gaon.
Meanwhile, back in ‘Alexander Sender Margoliot’ land, Alexander Sender is the son of Rabbi Mordechai “Chassid”.
And his grandfather is Rabbi Menachem Manish Margaliot, who is married to Hinda Margulis – sister of the infamous Elisha Shor, and daughter of Rabbi Alexander Sender Shor, the Tevuot Shor.
Hinda links us to a bunch of other people we’ve already written about, including R’ Gavriel Eskeles, whose wife’s aunt was this same Hinda.
And, now we know that ‘Rabbi Menachem Manish Margoliot‘ is one and the same as Mordechai Yollis – also married to this same ‘Hinda’.
‘Mordechai Yollis’ has a son called ‘Rabbi Israel Babad Levitzer’, who – surprise suprise! – has a son called:
Alexander Sender Haim Shor.
Aka, Rabbi Alexander Sender Margoliot, my candidate for the real Vilna Gaon.
Alexander Sender Haim Shor is the ancestor of the famous ‘Brodsky family‘ of entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Russia.
Probably more about them another time, as I don’t want your brains to explode.
I am a couple of weeks away from finally cracking this mystery, BH.
I’ve been saying that for months, but I really feel this latest bit of info is filling in a lot of the gaps in the picture.
And now, I will go away again and obsess over a few more of the ‘holes’ to see what else I discover when I plug this info in.
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