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I just sat down to try to figure out ‘what am I doing with myself this year’.

The big piece of paper I put out on the table to try and help me figure all this stuff out is empty.

But I had an idea while I was doing some hitbodedut on why nothing was coming to me, and this is it:

Just let God decide.

If I take this idea seriously, the implications are awesome, and kind of exciting.

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For example, I was pondering what I should be focusing on writing next.

I still have so many tabs open… so many paths to follow… so many subjects to cover…

And at the same time, I feel like doing things differently this year, and not just picking up where I left off in 5781.

As I was rolling this around, an email popped into my inbox asking me if I knew that the late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was the great-grandson of the founder of Petach Tikva, one Aryeh Leib Frumkin.

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I didn’t, but I started looking at more of the links my correspondent, D., sent me – and whaddya know?

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Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is directly related to that same Yehoshua Zeitlin who seems to be in the middle of so very much of what went wrong in the Jewish community, approximately 250 years ago.

Before I get back into all that, let me finish the thought:

I’m letting God decide what I’m doing this year.

Wherever He takes me, whatever options or information or people He sends me, I’m going to be ‘open’ to receiving it, and not just trying to follow my own plan, or my own ideas.

What do I know anyway?

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I can already see it makes life way more interesting, to let God show me what I should be doing next, instead of trying to dictate things myself.

So, let’s get back to Aryeh Leib Frumkin.

Why does God want me to look over there, right now?

I start clicking around, and I notice that Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks apparently traces back to a son of the original Yehoshua Zeitlin named Moshe Zeitlin.

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There’s a couple of things I find interesting about this.

Firstly, that such a wealthy, privileged young man apparently just ‘dropped out’ of Russian Jewish society….

I used to believe fairy tales like this in the old days, but now, I tend to think that these ‘dead end stories’ are just a way of hiding what really happened next. Which is when I remember that someone else apparently had a son named Moshe, in the same geographical area, in roughly the same time frame, who also kind of ‘disappeared’ in mysterious circumstances:

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I’ve already written a ton about this particular mysterious ‘Moshe’, but here’s what’s really interesting, for this post:

Moshe Schneuri’s daughter Rachel marries a Fundaminsky.

And we already know from THIS post that ‘Fundaminsky’ was a name adopted by at least part of the Zeitlin family, to obscure their origins.

Fondaminskys, Zeitlins and Bolsheviks

And that the ‘big’, mysterious, Chabad family of Tumarkin were also intermarrying with the Zeitlin / Fundaminskys:

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So, it’s not totally ‘out there’ for me to start pondering if ‘Moshe Zeitlin’ – son of Yehoshua Zeitlin – and ‘Moshe Schneuri’ – apparently the son of the Alter Rebbe of Chabad – are one and the same person.

While you’re digesting that, let’s see what else pops up that might throw some more light on the subject.

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The guy who is putting a lot of info up on Geni about this branch of Zeitlins is called Eliezer Dovid Zeitlin, and he has a photo album.

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Under Moshe Zeitlin’s profile, there are 3 titchy photos of documents that I just know have some crucial, pertinent information to start unwinding this whole Chabad / Zeitlin / Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks story.

But they are too titchy to read with the naked eye, and I don’t have ‘permission’ to click on them:

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But lucky for me, I recently bought a massive magnifying glass, so I will come back to this, and I find out anything more, I’ll let you know in an update. And if there are any sharp-eyed readers out there who can decipher this in the meantime- please do!

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I keep looking for more clues, and I get to one Chaim Menachem Mendel Zeitlin (son of Shneur Zalman (Jacob?) Zeitlin, who is another one of ‘Moshe Zeitlin’s’ grandsons, of the same generation as Aryeh Leib Frumkin.

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In the notes underneath his profile, I read this:

Escaped Russia in the early 1900’s to Fiume, while using the family name Gintzburgh. R’ C.M. Mendel met his family there for they came years earlier while he was imprisoned in Smolensk.

Eventually 1912 ? he continued on to Eretz Yisroel / Ottoman Empire originally with Bluma (I think on a tape from Tante Rivka Tenenbaum) to scout out an apartment together. Bluma returned to Europe, while he stayed on alone and joined the Kollel of Yeshiva Chayeh Olam in the Old City Yerushalayim, it was considered the Chassidishe Kollel (so I heard) –Here too he used the name Gintzburgh [probably the reason his name on the Matzeiva was also Gintzburgh because the death records were controlled by the Turkish-Ottoman Empire and that’s how he entered E.Y. from Fiume?]

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So now, I have a third surname to add to the list for the Zeitlins, along with ‘Fundaminsky’, namely ‘Gintzburgh’.

Chaim ‘Menachem Mendel’ Zeitlin / Gintzburgh is married to a lady called Bluma.

This snippet comes from underneath her geni profile:

Bluma was the Third Generation from the Baal Hatanya – Rebbe Shneur Zalmen of Liadi the First Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch. Her mother Rivka was a daughter of Frieda who was a daughter of the Baal Hatanya. Bluma was a cousin with the Rebbe Resha”b – Sholom Dov Ber of Chabad Lubavitch.”

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There’s just one problem with this…. ‘official Chabad genealogy’ only records two children for Frieda Schneuri, both sons:

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Here’s some more interesting things we learn from Frieda’s geni profile:

Frieda’s son, Boruch, marries the daughter of Binyomin Kletzker.

We’ve seen that name before, in THIS post. Here’s the relevant snippet:

 I immediately see that this Aharon Tumarkin is:

a) Meant to be married to an ‘anonymous’ Eisenstadt / Kletzker.

b) That this same anonymous Eisenstadt / Kletzker woman is also the wife of the Alter Rebbe’s grandson, oneBaruch Klutzkar’.

(If your head is spinning right now, join the club. It’s par for the course with all this stuff, but I’m going to push through the ‘confusion’ to try and drag some more of the truth out into the light. I’ll sum all the main findings up at the bottom of the post for those with weak constitutions.)

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The following comes from THIS attached document (in Hebrew and Yiddish).

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TRANSLATION:

(This is all talking about this same guy, Benjamin Eisenstadt / Kletzker):

His sons-in-law

One of his children married the Rabbi Baruch of Shklov / Orsha, the second son of Rabbi Eliyahu (ben Rabbi Mordechai), and the Rabbanit Frieda, daughter of the Alter Rebbe.

The daughter of Rabbi Baruch was the daughter-in-law of the Tzemach Tzedek, the wife of his son R’ Yaakov, who died during the lifetime of the Tzemach Tzedek.

[Benjamin Kletzker’s] second son-in-law was Rabbi Aharon Tumarkin, (the grandfather of ‘Chatan Danan).

His third son-in-law was ‘the big, famous’ Rabbi Ber Leib Baruchin, from Plotsk.

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Rabbi Baruch of Shklov is very likely one and the same as the maskil, Freemason and court physician to Prince Radziwill, Baruch Shick of Shklov.

According to the document quoted above, which is meticulously footnoted from conventional Chabad sources, Baruch of Shklov’s maternal grandfather is Shneur Zalman, aka the Alter Rebbe.

But according to the Jew-Age website HERE, Baruch Shick of Shklov’s maternal grandfather is none other than… the Sha’agat Aryeh.

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Notice that the surname of the Sha’agat Aryeh is GINZBURG.

In the post on Yitzhak Rabin that a lot of this info about Baruch Shick comes from, we learned that:

Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin was the direct descendant of the Alter Rebbe of Chabad.

Here’s how that works:

Alter Rebbe > Frieda > Baruch Shick of Shklov > Unknown child > R’ Yaakov Baruchin > > > > Rosa Cohen > Yitzhak Rabin.

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So now, let’s try and fit ‘Chaim Menachem Mendel Zeitlin / Gintzburg’, and his wife Bluma, back in this picture.

While the Alter Rebbe’s grandson ‘Baruch of Schick’ was busy joining the masons, trying to ‘enlighten’ his fellow Jews while hanging out with Joshua Zeitlin, and fathering the ancestor of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin….

The Alter Rebbe’s grand-daughter Bluma was also busy marrying a Zeitlin, fathering another ‘Zionist pioneer’ who apparently founded Petach Tikva, and who then went on to become the great-grandfather of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Or to put it another way, Yitzhak Rabin and Jonathan Sacks belong to the same family, and are both descendants of the Alter Rebbe.

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But there’s more.

Here’s a snippet that appears under the profile for Frieda Schneuri, Alter Rebbe daughter No. 5 and ancestor of Yitzhak Rabin and Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

Frieda was the eldest daughter of the Alter Rebbe and a particular favourite who he taught personally much Chasidus. Her husband Rabbi Elijah was a secret Frankist.Her brother Moshe along with her sisters Brocha, Devorah Leah and Esther Miriam were influenced by the Catholic Frankists teachings.

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Who is this mysterious ‘Rabbi Elijah’, husband of Frieda and apparently another secret Frankist?

The timing appears to bo too late to match the ‘Vilna Gaon’ (of course, assuming that the Vilna Gaon’s name was really ‘Elijah’, and not ‘Pinchas’, or something totally different…. That’s a post for another time.)

But there IS another ‘Elijah’ in the mix, who connects to the family of Aryeh Leib Frumkin, and who is also very ‘mysterious’ and deliberately distorted through the lens of made-up Jewish history, and that’s Elijah Ragoler.

Here’s the pertinent snippet from the Jewish Virtual Library:

Ragoler’s brother, SAMUEL KELMER, was also a renowned scholar who went to Ereẓ Israel in the closing years of his life. Samuel was the father of Aryeh Leib *Frumkin.

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(BTW, British PM Boris Johnson is also descended from that same Elijah Ragoler. Just another little CO-IN-CID-ENCE.)

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Aryeh Leib Frumkin conveniently wrote an ‘official biography’ of Elijah Ragoler, so all the dates are totally fudged.

But I think this profile on the My Heritage is giving us a more accurate view of when our particular Elijah Ragoler was alive:

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This Elijah Ragoler was married to one Gita Pesseles – which takes us straight back into Vilna Gaon territory.

Here’s a more trustworthy version of the Vilna Gaon’s family tree, from Chaim Freedman’s ‘Eliyahu’s Branches’:

The Vilna Gaon is meant to have remarried one ‘Gittel Luntz of Kelm’ – notice the KELM connection to all this.

And Gita’s second husband was Shlomo Zalman of Volozhin, the brother of Reb Chaim of Volozhin.

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Does that make ‘Frieda Shneuri’ ‘Gita Pesseles AKA Gittel Luntz of Kelm’?

I don’t know.

There’s still so very much to unpick.

But if Frieda’s husband ‘Rabbi Elijah’ was a secret Freemason-Frankist….

Well.

That kind of explains a least a little of what his children were up to.

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The last point – that I keep kind of weaving around, as it’s not so easy to deal with – concerns Frieda’s other son, Aharon Zaslavski.

Aharon Zaslavski married Chaya, Rebbe Nachman’s daughter, as a second marriage, after Rebbe Nachman had died and was no longer there to ‘arrange’ a marriage with someone suitable.

There seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that ‘Aharon Zaslavski’ was extremely problematic, from a spiritual perspective.

That ‘Frankist-Freemason’ vibe seems to have been in full swing in this part of the family tree.

This is already a long post, so I’m going to return to this subject soon, God willing.

But here are the takeaways, from this post:

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  • Surprise surprise!!! The late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was ALSO a descendent of the Alter Rebbe, via his daughter Frieda, and ALSO a descendant of Joshua Zeitlin. (Who may yet turn out to be ‘alter egos’ of the same person….)
  • Yet another ‘big Zionist’ – Aryeh Leib Frumkin, founder of Petach Tikva – turns out to be related to the Alter Rebbe of Chabad and Joshua Zeitlin.
  • The Zeitlins used a lot of alternative surnames, including ‘Fundaminsky’ and Gintzburgh.
  • Moshe Zeitlin’ and ‘Moshe Schneuri’ overlap a great deal, and maybe the same person.

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So, we cleaned up a little more of the confusion swirling around real Jewish history.

And we discovered that just like you need the right yichus to become PM of Israel, no Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth gets the job on merit alone.

TBC

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You might also like this article:

Rabbenu, Rabbenu.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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This from Wikipedia:

Daniel Itzig (also known as Daniel Yoffe 18 March 1723 in Berlin – 17 May 1799 in Potsdam) was a Court Jew of Kings Frederick II the Great and Frederick William II of Prussia

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…

He funded early members of the Haskalah secular movement, including Rabbi Israel of Zamosch (Moses Mendelssohn‘s teacher), Samuel Rominow (an Italian Jewish artist) and Isaac Satanow.

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.

At the same time he founded and funded a Yeshiva and brought Rabbi Hirschel Levin and Rabbi Joseph ben Meir Teomim [author of the Pri Megadim] to Berlin to teach there.

Itzig was the official head (‘Oberältester’) of the Jewish community in Berlin from 1764 until his death in 1799.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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First stop was geni.

Here he is, together with a picture of his fabulous ‘Palais Ephraim’ that he built in Berlin, in 1762.

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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.

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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.

Click, click, click, and I have a picture of who Elke’s siblings are, including one ‘Roesel Teomim-Heschel‘, who marries a guy called HaRav HaGaon Chaim Yonah Teomim II’.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Whaddya know.

But there are more surprises to come.

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UPDATE:

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.

 

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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:

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Warning: here’s where we get into ‘mindblowing information’ territory.

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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.

SNAP.

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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).

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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.

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Why go to such great lengths to cover this information up?

There’s probably a few reasons. One of them is this:

Alexander Sender Margoliot’s grandma, Hinde Margolis, is the sister of the notorious Elisha Shor (Wolowski), whose whole family ‘converted’ to Roman Catholicism together with Jacob Frank.

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….)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

TBC

====

UPDATE:

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):

Son of Rabbi Mordechai “Chassid”, one of the sages of the cloister in Brody , a friend of the ” Known in Judea ” and a disciple of Rabbi Moshe Osterer . 

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. 

He married Esther, daughter of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Buchner, rabbi of Zabrze , and son of Rabbi Shlomo, Rabbi of Pinchov and author of the book “Yekhal Shlomo”.

====

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.

Too much.

====

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.

TBC

====

You might also like this article:

It’s strange how so many of Israel’s leading politicians are closely related to some of the biggest names in the Torah world.

Most of us wouldn’t think that, because we’ve been carefully trained to think in terms of ‘them’ and ‘us’. Whatever side of the divide we’ve been raised on, we’ve been educated to believe that the people ‘on the other side’ are aliens from outer space, with totally different genes from us.

That ‘other’ is the erev rav!

That’s what misguided people have been teaching us.

You don’t need to look inside your own community, your own household, your own heart for the telltale signs of the ‘erev rav’, because they are only and always over there, on the other side of the equation. 

But that’s just not true.

====

The only real ‘power’ we have, if you can call it that, is to work on ourselves, and make our own teshuva, and work to improve and uproot our own bad middot.

For as long as we’ve been buying the lie that the problem is only and always ‘over there’, that just hasn’t been happening.

But I think more and more of us are now waking up to the disturbing idea that ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ are spread across the Jewish world, and that today more than ever, we can’t judge a book by its cover.

The worst evil and the biggest good – it’s all coming out of the same gene pool, the same families.

And that brings me neatly to the subject of today’s post: the yichus of Shimon Peres.

====

It’s hard to think of someone I like less than Shimon Peres.

He’s been up to his neck in one horrible, evil act, one literally satanic scheme, after another.

He was the go-between man for the Yemenite children, sold off to the US military / secret services so that Mengele and ‘Dr Green’ could basically torture them to death, in a variety of different ways, as part of Sidney Gottlieb’s ‘MK Ultra / MK Monarch’ demonic ‘experiments’.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Sidney Gottlieb’ was a Jewish Hungarian born in the Bronx.

That might be true – we know that a lot of these reverse-kabbalah pretend-Jewish Frankists ended up in that area. But there are other sources (this link is not shmirat eynayim friendly, and it’s also contains disturbing information) that say that ‘Sidney Gottlieb’ was an alias for another Operation Paperclip Nazi, shipped over to America.

The truth still hasn’t come out about what really happened to the Yemenite children.

But it will.

====

In the meantime, today’s post was inspired by the following email exchange, that I had with a thoughtful reader:

Ataturk was a secret sabbatian.  see here:

https://moishekohen.wordpress.com/when-kemal-ataturk-recited-shema-yisrael-by-hillel-halkin-the-jewish-daily-forward/

I went and clicked on the link – and it’s a really, really good article, that shows just how deep the State of Israel’s politicians are tied to the Sabbateans.

Oh, and that also showed that modern Turkey is essentially a Sabbatian construct, created by that branch of Sabbateans called the Donmeh. I thanked my correspondent for the link, and then he replied with this:

A number of years ago I came across a Donmeh cookbook, which had the odd comment that Jewish dietary laws were now made heter by the Reform movement (i.e. pork, meat and dairy).  Strange how Turkish Sabbateans are following a “pasak halachah” of the Reform movement, which to my knowledge isn’t even present in Turkey. 

There is a fellow at Hebrew University I think, or Yad Vashem, who knows a lot about the Donmeh and had contact with them — Yitzchak Kerem.  Take note that the public “falling out” between Israel and Turkey began on a television show with none other than Shimon Peres and the Turkish Premier. 

Peres was reported by Chamish as allegedly saying Bircat HaTorah with the shem Hashem as written, (a Sabbatian custom).  When corrected, he allegedly said, “I know what I’m doing.”

====

Ah. Shimon Peres.

I’ve been trying to figure out who his ancestors were in this whole hot mess, because (in case you hadn’t realised it yet) – anyone who is anyone in the State of Israel is part of this Sabbatean-Frankist-Freemason club.

You just find the people with the money and the power in the State, then follow the trail back.

They’ve been making a big effort to cover all this up, but yesterday, after I got that email, I decided to have another stab at it. And here’s what I discovered:

Shimon Peres (aka Shimon Persky) is a direct descendent of Chaim of Volozhin.

====

The path has been deliberately obscured on geni (and elsewhere…) for reasons that may become a little clearer in a minute.

But Shimon Persky, as Peres was known before he changed his name, is the cousin of actress Lauren Bacall.

According to geni, Lauren Bacall’s father, Wulf William Perske, is the brother of Shimon Peres‘s paternal grandfather, Zalman Meir Persky. But honestly? The dates don’t add up, and it seems more likely that some geni sleight of hand is going on here, and that Peres and Bacall were actually first cousins.

Point is, click, click, click, and you eventually get back to Dov Aryeh Persky (Volozhiner) – the son of R’ Chaim of Volozhin.

And here’s where the story gets even more interesting.

====

For months and months and months, I’ve been trying to track down who R’ Chaim of Volozhin really was.

It’s been very frustrating, because it’s become clearer and clearer to me that this is information that has been deliberately withheld and obscured – and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why it’s such a big deal.

First, here’s the ‘standard explanation’ of who R’ Chaim of Volozhin was, from Wikipedia:

(Hey, I should have started there for my search for Shimon Peres yichus. Its clearly spelled out that he was R’ Chaim’s great-great grandson. Who knew?)

“Both Chaim (1749 – 1821) and his elder brother Simcha (d. 1812) studied under Rabbi Aryeh Leib ben Asher Gunzberg, the author of the Shaagas Aryeh, who was then rabbi of Volozhin, and afterward under Rabbi Raphael ha-Kohen, (the author of the Toras Yekusiel), later of Hamburg.[1]

Aged 25, Chaim was attracted by the fame of the Vilna Gaon, and he became one of his most prominent disciples. Submitting to his new teacher’s method, he began his studies anew, taking up again TorahMishnahTalmud, and even Hebrew grammar. His admiration for the gaon was boundless, and after his death Chaim virtually acknowledged no superior.”

====

Chaim Ickovits of Volozhin, as he was also known, is credited for starting up the famous Volozhin Yeshiva, whose approach was then followed by:

“[A]ll the great Lithuanian yeshivas, such as Slobodka yeshiva, Mir yeshiva, Ponevezh yeshivaKelm yeshivaKletsk yeshiva, and Telz yeshiva.”

In other words, the whole of the Litvak Torah world kind of rests on his shoulders.

R’ Chaim is a direct ancestor of the famous Soloveitchik family – (hey! Who knew that the Brisker Rav and Shimon Peres were actually cousins?!) and also, of R’ Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, aka the Netziv.

In other words, Shimon Peres (and Lauren Bacall….) had some serious, serious yichus.

====

So now, we hit that uncomfortable question:

At what point did the family of Shimon Peres became evil Sabbatian-Frankists?

As I’m sure you are starting to figure out for yourselves, whole worlds – whole world views – literally hang off the answer.

We’ve already learned that these families had a pronounced tendency to marry each other, over many generations. Given that, there are certain names that send up the red flag for me that I might be dealing with something interesting, here.

Like, the Shor / Schor surname. Like, the ‘Berlin’ surname. Like, the ‘Babad’ surname. Like, the ‘Horowitz’ surname. Like the Gunzburg / Ginsburg surname.

A few days ago, when I was writing about the ‘Mandaeans, the Gnostic Sabians’ who are the root of the Sabbatean-Frankist-Freemasons, I turned up this bit of information:

  • The Sabians’ ‘holy book’ is called the Ginza Rabba, and it identifies ‘John the Baptist’ as their main prophet.

After I read that, the surname ‘Ginzburg’ kinda shot to the top of my interesting list.

====

So, I’m tootling around try to figure out who R’ Chaim Volozhiner really was, and I start to trip over some more interesting information.

Like apparently, he had an older brother called ‘R’ Shlomo Zalman of Vilna‘, who was meant to be a total ilui in Torah, and one of the Vilna Gaon’s leading students, before he apparently died young, aged 32.

I’ve read a ton of information about Vilna and its rabbis, so I’m sitting here wondering how it is I’ve never heard about this guy before when he was apparently so famous?

I do a bit more digging, and I discover that Shlomo Zalman’s son, Rabbi Yechezkel Feivel (1755–1833) – the maggid of Vilna – wrote a very popular hagiography of his father called Toldos Adam, which you can read an extract of HERE.

While some rabbis like R’ Akiva Eger and R’ Ephraim Zalman Margolioth were happy to give their approbations to Toldos Adam, others were not. And for good reasons. This comes from Wikipedia:

It has been demonstrated that large parts of Toldos Adam were lifted verbatim from the works of leading Maskilim such as Moses Mendelssohn and Naphtali Hirz Wessely, though not attributed to them.

This was presumably an attempt to slip those ideas into the broader Jewish community, which had rejected the Haskalah movement’s ideology.

====

Hmm. Fancy that.

Toldos Adam was printed in 1801, and it lives on, in the Chabad library. You can download a copy of it, in the original Hebrew, HERE.

As always, whenever I start to approach ‘the Vilna Gaon’ and his students, things start to get really murky, really fast.

====

The next place I go, to try and find out a bit more info about who Chaim and Shlomo Zalman Ickovitz really are, is HERE – a whole website devoted to research about the Vilna Gaon, which lists the Gaon’s main students, as follows:

According to the sons of the Gaon the students are:

  • R. Hayyim Itzkovitch of Volozhin,
  • R. Shlomo of Vilkomir,
  • R. Shlomo Zalman, brother of R. Hayyim Volozhiner,
  • R. Saadya brother in law of R. Shlomo Zalman,
  • R. Shlomo of Tulchyin,
  • R. Zvi Hirsh of Siemiatycze,
  • R. Shlomo of Mohilev (Mogilev),
  • R. Binyamin Rivles,
  • R. Menahem Mendel of Shklov and his brother, R. Simha Bunim of Shklov.
  • One may add to that list, the three sons of the Gaon R. Abraham and R. Yehudah Leib and Shlomo Zalman who passed away at a young age.

====

Before we continue, you might want to go and re-read the following posts, which cover a lot of pertinent information about the connections between the Vilna Gaon’s students, and the haskalah movement:

====

====

Here’s a recap of some of the main points, covered in details by these blog posts:

  • The Eshel Avraham, Avraham Broda / Rovigo was a Sabbatean prophet, and leader of the more moderate branch of Sabbatians.

  • He established yeshivas all over the Jewish world, and had literally thousands of students.

  • Many of his students, including Yonatan Eybshutz, Yonah Lansdorfer and Netanel Weil / Wehle appear to have been secret Sabbatians. This showed itself in their descendants, many of whom were at the forefront of the Frankist movement.

  • There were literally hundreds of leading Rabbis who were secret Sabbatians in the Jewish world, in the century following Shabtai Tzvi’s conversion to Islam and death. Many of these people – like the Shor family – have been airbrushed out of conventional Jewish history.

  • The descendants of these Sabbatians continue to play a very big part in the Jewish world today, both in the diaspora and the State of Israel.

  • Binyamin Broda – a close family member of the Eshel Avraham – is identified with Binyamin Rivlin of Shklov, one of the leading disciples of the Vilna Gaon, and father of Hillel of Shklov, who lead the Perushim to Eretz Yisrael.

  • Binyamin Broda is also identified by Athol Bloomer as being the leader of the ‘secret Frankists’ who remain within the Jewish community.

  • The Vilna Gaon is also ‘officially’ related to the Broda family, via Abraham Broda of Serhei, whose daughter marries the Vilna Gaon’s son, Yehuda Leib.

  • Binyamin Broda / Rivlin and Yehoshua Zeitlin were leaders of the haskalah, and both are closely connected to the Vilna Gaon.

  • Yes, I’m suggesting that the Vilna Gaon and his circle were probably closely connected to secret Sabbatians / Frankists. That’s why there is so much deliberate ‘confusion’ being sown about their genealogies.

====

Wow, so much water has gone under the bridge, since I first wrote that ‘recap’ back in November 2020.

Let’s continue.

What we’ve learned so far is that so many of the Frankist-Sabbatean-Freemason politicians and ‘leaders’ in the State of Israel are direct descendents of the ‘Vilna Gaon’ and his group of students.

We’ve already ‘outed’ some of these closet Frankists on the blog, like Binyamin Rivlin – aka Binyamin Broda – the great-grandson of the Sabbatean prophet the Eshel Avraham (R’ Avraham Rovigo / Avraham Broda).

And it seems increasingly likely – to me, at least – that the Vilna Gaon and his circle were actually the direct descendents of the Sabbatan ‘prophet’, the Eshel Avraham. This also ties in with Chabad, of course, where so many of the Rebbes married descendants of the Eshel Avraham, as I set down in this blog post:

====

Here’s some of the key points, from that post, as it’s usual to start to have all of this stuff in one place, going forward:

  • The Alter Rebbe‘s great-granddaughter via his openly catholic son Moshe marries Zalman Rivlin, the great-grandson of Hillel Rivlin of Shklov – continuing the tradition of these families intermarrying with each other.

  • Hillel Rivlin is the son of Benjamin Rivlin / Broda, the brother of the Vilna Gaon, and the ‘secret Frankist tzaddik‘ that stays within the Jewish community, to subvert it from within.

  • Zalman’s brother, Yosef Yehoshua Rivlin, plays a leading part in ‘building’ Jerusalem, together with the descendant of another Shabbatean Prophet [from Vilna, called Hershel Tzoref], Yoel Moshe Salomon.

====

OK, let’s get back to ‘R’ Chaim Ickovitz’, and his brother Shlomo Zalman.

If you take a look at THIS, you’ll see that Shlomo Zalman Ickovitz is listed as being the half brother of a whole bunch of ‘Ragolers’ – the Ragoler family are directly related to the Vilna Gaon.

But the genealogy is a total mess, so it’s hard to know who is really related to who.

====

Guess what?

I just fell down another massive rabbit hole with this line of research, so I’m going to park this part of the post, while I’m trying to figure it all out, and instead zoom in on who R’ Chaim Ickovitz, aka Chaim of Volozhin, married.

According to geni, he married one ‘Sarah Ginzburg‘, the daughter of Aryeh Leib.

Hmm. That’s interesting, because in his official biography, Chaim of Volozhin was meant to be a close student of the Sha’agas Aryeh – aka Aryeh Leib Ginzburg (1695-1785):

Both Chaim and his elder brother Simcha (d. 1812) studied under Rabbi Aryeh Leib ben Asher Gunzberg, the author of the Shaagas Aryeh, who was then rabbi of Volozhin, and afterward under Rabbi Raphael ha-Kohen, (the author of the Toras Yekusiel), later of Hamburg.

====

If you go and read what’s written on Wikipedia about the ‘Sha’agas Aryeh’, you’ll find many strange things.

For example, it’s strange that his links to Chaim of Volozhin, and to his yeshiva, aren’t mentioned at all.

It’s strange that the fact his daughter, Sarah, married Chaim of Volozhin is totally obscured.

And there are other small touches in the admittedly pretty sparse account that also suggest something is kinda ‘off’ with the whole picture.

Here’s two snippets:

Born in Lithuania, c. 1695, he was a Rabbinical casuist. At one time Ginsburg was rabbi in Pinsk, and then later founded a yeshivah in Minsk. Here however he engaged in hostile dispute with the Gaon Yechiel Halpern, whose supporters eventually drove Ginsburg from the city.

Legend has it that the Shaagas Aryeh was run out of the city of Minsk on an oxen cart.[2] Due to the insult, as he left the city he remarked “What, Minsk isn’t burning yet?” For years, fires that broke out were attributed by the Jews of Minsk to the curse of the Shaagas Aryeh….

“Hasidim considered the Shaagas Aryeh “the definitive talmid hakham (great leader) of the generation”, They maintain a legend that the Besht sought out the Shaagas Aryeh and “served him by putting his shoes on for him”.

“A legend exists of his death. During his studies a book-case fell on him, covering him with books. His students were able to rescue him after an hour or so and he related to them that he had been covered by the books of the authors with whom he had quarreled….

It is speculated that this legend is the source of the urban myth surrounding the death of the French-Jewish composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, whose family originated from Metz.

====

Call me jaded, but whenever I see an account of a rabbi that’s based almost totally around ‘legends’, the red flag automatically goes up that I’m dealing with a false persona.

Real people, real rabbis, don’t need ‘legends’ to fill out their biographical details, because they have real families, and real achievements and experiences, and real lives to do all that.

I’m not saying that the Sha’agas Aryeh didn’t exist. What I’m saying is that I think he was another of these ‘dual personas’ that I’ve tripped up on so very many times, the last few months of researching this stuff.

It’s little things, like why would the BESHT seek out the Sha’agas Aryeh to put his shoes on?

What’s the source for this self-serving snippet?

And, why would some secular French guy with no connection, apparently, to the world that the Sha’agas Aryeh moved in, have an ‘urban myth’ spring up about his death based on the ‘legend’ of how the Sha’agas Aryeh apparently died?

It’s the small details, the little things, that really just don’t make any sense.

====

So, next stop was to go and try and track things down from the other side of the ‘Sha’agas Aryeh’ persona.

What do the ‘official sources’ say for who his daughter was, and who she really married?

(Here comes the magic…)

If you go HERE, it lists 4 children for the ‘Sha’agas Aryeh’, including one daughter, Sarah.

That daughter Sarah marries one Nathan Nata Notkin.

And when I read that, I almost fell off my chair.

====

Here’s why.

There were apparently two main Jewish ‘Court Factors’ serving the court of Count Semyon Zorich in Shklov, in the late 1700s.

One was Yehoshua Zeitlin – who I’ve already written a lot about, and who is somehow the ancestor of the Alter Rebbe, and probably also related to the Vilna Gaon, too, although I still haven’t quite managed to totally pin down how.

====

This ‘Yehoshua Zeitlin’ was leading a double-life – ‘orthodox’ Rabbi, according to the above write up from Hamodia, and leading maskil, according to who he was hanging out with, paying for, and what he was otherwise supporting:

[Zeitlin] became close to the leaders of the Berlin Haskala and became a frequent visitor to the house of the founder of Jewish enlightenment, “Jewish Socrates” Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1789). Friendship ties tied him with such prominent Maskilim as the Chief Rabbi of BerlinHirsch Lebel (1721-1800); the outstanding linguist and exegete Naftali-Hertz Wesseli (1725-1805); the herald of reformism in Judaism, David Friedlander (1750–1834), and others. (Emphasis mine.)

====

Now, I’ve come across many references to another ‘Court Factor’ in Shklov, who sounds almost identical to ‘Yehoshua Zeitlin’ – except I couldn’t really find any real details for him anywhere – including in a whole big book I bought about Shklov Jews.

That guy’s name was Natan Nota Notkin.

I wrote about him, a little, back in THIS post, when I said this:

There’s another interesting descendant of Yonatan Eybshutz as well (not including this two sons ‘Wolf’ and Mordechai-Marcus, who were both openly Sabbatian / Frankists.)

He is Natan Nata Eybshutz, named for Eybshutz’s ‘illustrious’ ancestor Natan Nata Spira, the Megulat Amukot.

CO-INC-IDEN-TALLY, one of the most famous ‘Shadlanim’ of that time was a guy named Natan Nota Notkin.

I can find so very little about him online, but here’s where you can read a little more about him:

“A merchant from Shklov, Nota Haimovich Notkin was invited to St. Petersburg together with Abram Perets by Catherine II.”

His life story parallels that of Joshua Zeitlin almost exactly.

====

Could “R’ Chaim of Volozhin’ and ‘Nota Haimovich Notkin’ be one and the same person?

It’s certainly at least possible.

In THIS post, I wrote this:

  1. The sephardic converso ‘De Porto’ family moved through Ulmo in the Netherlands to become the ashkenazi ‘Gunzbergs’. The Gunzbergs / Ginsburghs / Ginsburgs are connected to Natan Nota Eybshutz; and they are also connected to the Sabbatean Avraham Rovigo / Broda – the ‘Eshel Avraham’ – whose descendants married the Alter Rebbe’s descendants and ‘spiritual heirs’.

Chaim of Volozhin’s mother is listed as being one ‘Rivka Rappaport’.

Another branch of the ‘De Porto’ family also went by the name ‘Rappoport’.

====

And in THIS post, I wrote this:

CO-INC-IDEN-TAL-LY, there’s a strange story on the Chabad website which tells us this, about Natan Nata Notkin:

In the year 1798, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was falsely informed upon by his detractors and accused of treason. When he was finally exonerated and released from prison toward the evening of the 19th of Kislev, the authorities asked him where they should bring him.

He replied that they should bring him to the home of Reb Mordechai Liepler, one of his followers. In the same building, there also lived one of the leading mitnagdim (opponents of the chassidim), by the name of R’ Nota Notkin, and unfortunately, Rabbi Shneur Zalman was mistakenly taken to his home instead.

For three hours, until the chassidim realized what happened, he berated, complained and argued against the chassidim, to the extent that Rabbi Schneur Zalman later remarked that he suffered more during those three hours than the entire time he was imprisoned.

====

This is strange for a lot of reasons, not least that elsewhere, Nota Notkin is credited for being the man who arranged the release of Shneur Zalman from prison in the first place.

====

So if ‘Nota Haimovitch Notkin’ ends up being and the same as R’ Chaim of Volozhin….

That clearly changes the whole picture of what we think we know about real Jewish history, and what so many of these people were really up to – and what side they were really playing for.

====

That’s enough for today!

I just fell down a whole other rabbit hole which no doubt you’ll hear about in due course.

We are getting closer and closer to really figuring all this stuff out, BH.

But we’re not quite ‘there’ yet.

There’s still a bunch of lies that need pinning down and biruring.

And with God’s help, we’ll get to it.

====

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Sometimes, I have a lot of sympathy for the Prophet Yonah.

Poor guy.

He really wanted to run away from all his heavy, ‘negative’ nevuot, and to just go sit on an island somewhere and strum his new acoustic guitar to an Ed Sheeran song.

But God didn’t let him.

God, leave me alone!!! I hate all this dark, heavy stuff, and I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, and I don’t want to get involved in all the convoluted politics and ‘uck’ of this world!!!

But that was the job that God gave Yonah, and like it or not, that’s the job he had to do.

====

Just now, I was doing some hitbodedut in the garden, pulling out some big weeds and stinging nettles before they get a chance to root too deeply, and become entrenched.

Strange to say, I just love pulling things out by their roots.

I’m weird like that.

So, as I’m sitting and pulling and praying and pulling, God sent me the idea that I really need to start writing about all this fake Jewish history stuff again.

And I immediately started arguing.

God, leave me alone!! It’s so ucky, it’s so heavy, it’s so charged and fraught and difficult…. I really, really don’t want to do it.

In the silence that followed, I got this answer back:

That’s exactly why you are the best person for the job.

====

Sigh.

What can I tell you?

Don’t I know, just how hard this is for all of us, you and me both? Don’t I know just how much trauma and anxiety this whole ‘unravelling’ process is causing us all?

Yes, I do.

That’s why I’ve been doing my best to run away from it all the last week and a half, and to do something more productive, like playing the guitar like a rockstar.

But God isn’t let me off the hook.

====

So, let’s start here, with a discussion I’ve been having with one of my non-Jewish readers on email, who gave permission for me to share it more widely, while I get my ducks in a row for the rest of the stuff I need to go back to researching and sharing with you.

And is has to do with something she called ‘The Ger Suggya’ – or in other words, what is the role of the ‘righteous gentile’ when Moshiach comes.

Let me spoil the anticipation by telling you straight off the bat that I don’t know.

But I think that the discussion and the idea is very important to at least have up on our radar, and so I’m bringing an abridged version of her comments, below, to get those wheels turning in the meantime.

====

UPDATE:

J asked me to delete our email exchange, so in deference to her wishes, I’ve done that.
I’m still considering what to do with the comments, and I’d appreciate feedback from you, dear reader – and particularly Netanel Simcha, who put a tremendous amount of time and effort into his response, about what you’d like me to do with those, going forward.

Please let me know in the comments, if you’d like me to keep the comments up, or delete them too.

====
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My husband, God bless him, is my harshest critic.

Before I write stuff here, especially ‘controversial’ stuff, I usually discuss it with him first – and his first tendency is to take everything apart, and to believe nothing.

Over the years, this has caused not a few arguments, but increasingly – and especially when I’m dealing with such high-level things as I’m currently writing about – I’ve come to appreciate this trait of his. He’s a lawyer, and he’s very good at picking my arguments apart.

That’s useful, because once all this stuff has passed muster at home, I know it’s 99% bullet-proof, and then I can write about it publically.

====

One of the things he asked me yesterday is ‘how can I claim genealogies are being faked and manipulated on geni.com’?

It’s a good question, and here’s the answer.

====

Let’s start with a conversation I had with someone who is directly related to some ‘big rabbis’, but off the grid of the official history. When this person put up their family details a few years ago, they were contacted by 2 of the (at least…) 3 people who I believe are ‘gatekeepers’ on geni, paid to divert the truth off into convenient ‘false narratives’.

One was called Malka Mysels, and the other Yigal Burnstein.

There is also a third ‘geni gatekeeper’ who pops up again and again in the most unexpected places, called Keith Hanit.

Long story short, my correspondent came to feel increasingly uncomfortable about the information they had posted up about their family history.

After a short period of time, they decided the safest and best course of action for their family would be to just delete their whole profile – which was challenging the ‘official narrative’ – and come off geni.

I am 100% sure there are many more people out there who have had exactly the same experience.

How can I be so sure?

Read on.

====

When I started researching the ancestry of ‘Benjamin Broda’, son of the Eshel Avraham Avraham Broda / Rovigo and alias of Benjamin Rivlin of Shklov, the secret Frankist ‘tzaddik’ who remained in the Jewish community, I stumbled across the following interesting discussion on geni, from July 2020:

https://admin.geni.com/discussions/216349

Here’s the potted version of it, but I highly recommend you click through and read it for yourself, to see how the manipulation of geni is working in real time.

Someone called Lee David Jaffe started a discussion underneath the profile for ‘Benjamin Braude, ABD Grodno’ about his great grandmother, a woman called “Slawa Brodowicz (1800?-1847)“. Here’s a short version of what he was asking:

====

I’m the 3rd great-grandson of Slawa Brodowicz (1800?-1847) and I’m looking for corroboration about her parents. I’ve found many entries for her in JRI-Poland records, mostly the births and marriages of her nine children, but only one includes her maiden name Brodowicz. Otherwise, I haven’t found any documentation that indicates the names of her father and mother.

There are more that 2 dozen family trees that include Slawa in various genealogy sites. Most indicate her father was Benyamin Broda (spelled variously) 1745-1818 and her mother was Rachel Mayer b. 1760….

Other trees report that Slawa’s father was Ick (Icko or Isaac) Brodowicz (1775-1840). JRI-Poland includes a record for Ick’s death in 1840 in Wiżajny, Suwalki, where Slawa lived. Ick’s parents were Abram and Hydyna…

====

Rachel Mayer has been identified in other places as the daughter of Rivka Shoshana Jacob, one of the (hidden….) daughters of Jacob Frank, and his first wife Chana Josefa Falk, the daughter of the ‘bad’ Baal Shem of London, who I wrote about HERE.

Jacob Frank had these 6 daughters before he ‘came out’ publically as the leader of the Sabbateans in Podolia that later morphed into full-on Frankism. Many of them married big Torah scholars in the Jewish community, and trying to track down their descendants is proving a really tricky job.

For example, if it can be proven beyond a doubt that Rachel Mayer, grand-daughter of Jacob Frank, married Binyamin Broda, and that Binyamin Broda’s daughter Leah Golda became the mother of the 4th Lubavitch Rebbe…

Well.

You can see why that might cause some problems.

====

So, let’s go back to that discussion about ‘Slawa Brodowicz’ – the purported sister of ‘Leah Golda’ and Chaim Broda.

====

One of the ways that people are ‘hidden’ on geni is that instead of giving a specific name for them, they are referred to as ‘wife of so-and-so’, etc.

If you look at the above profile for Benjamin Braude (aka Binyamin Rivlin), you’ll notice that no names are given for either of his two wives.

This is not an accident, or because they don’t know who these people are.

Again, we are dealing with the ‘leading lights’ of the Jewish community who intermarried with other ‘illustrious dynasties’ and wrote big books about their yichus.

The names are missing in all these crucial places, because the names would start to make connections that a lot of people don’t want.

Like, for example, potentially connecting ‘Benjamin Braude, ABD of Grodno’ with Jacob Frank.

====

So, back we go to the discussion with the poor Lee Jaffe, ggggg grandson of ‘Slawa Brodowicz’.

All of a sudden, a bunch of outsiders – including Keith Lawrence Hanit – have shown up, and have taken control of the information he’s trying to add into the ‘big picture’ about Benjamin Braude’s marriage and descendants. Here’s a little of what Lee is complaining about:

“I am sure that 3-4 days ago, R’ Benjamin Braude, A.B.D. Grodno was listed as the father of Slawa Ludwinowska and the husband of Rachel Broide/ Margoliot. I would not have begun this discussion under Benjamin otherwise.

As said, I’m new to Geni and I don’t now who Kevin, Samuel or Dimitri are or why they have taken a role, but someone has made changes that don’t make sense. I’m not interested in engaging in this discussion any further if this is the way this goes.”

====

Poor guy.

One of these ‘geni experts’ then lays into him, for questioning why they are trying to deliberately cover up the new information, like this:

“I trust that you and Mel Werbach are researching this properly and have put in a lot more effort and time than I have or plan on doing.

It does seem however that the issue of Slawa has led us into another mess which I’ve begun trying to fix. She had been attached to R’ Benjamin Braude, A.B.D. Grodno and he had been merged into Reb Sender/Alexander Ephraim Leb Broide/ Margoliot. I believe that merge was done based on https://zohariststories.blogspot.com/2019/09/sheklov-hasidim.html which I’m certain is a load of nonsense.”

====

That link to zohariststhories is the blog of Athol Bloomer, descendent of Jacob Frank, and self-identified as a ‘Hebrew Catholic’ i.e., a Frankist.

Again, there is a lot of disinformation on Athol Bloomer’s blog too, but at least some of the information about Frank’s descendants is credible, and I’m standing a lot of it up on it’s own merits, from independent sources that are NOT Athol Bloomer, or linked to him.

As we’ve been discovering on this blog, Jacob Frank’s ancestors AND descendants have all been totally whitewashed out of official Jewish history.

And that process has also occurred for all the other notorious ‘Shabbatean prophets’ like the Eshel Avraham, and Hershel Zoref, and Mordechai Mokaich, and Yonatan Eybshutz, and Nathan of Gaza,, and even, for the descendants of Shabtai Tzvi himself, many of whom also remained within the Jewish community.

====

If you try to click on the family tree that Lee Jaffe put up on ancestry.com, referred to in his comments, you’ll see it’s now gone.

Lee’s last comment on geni was this:

“What I would like is to see some supporting sources for the existing records and the recent changes. Why would Slawa’s record be unlinked as a child or Benjamin and moved to his brother Sender’s offspring? And since we still don’t know anything about Rachel Mayer why would her link as wife of Benjamin also move to Sender? If there is good reason, I’d like to see that info.”

====

They got to him, just like they got to the other person who spoke to me firsthand, about their experience on geni.

====

Here are some other ways the information is being manipulated, concealed and distorted on geni:

====

Above, you’ll find the profile for Rabbi Avraham Kalisker, the head of the the chassidim in Eretz Yisrael who fell out with the Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman, after he published the Tanya in 1797. (I wrote about that HERE.)

It took me a week of breaking my head reading through a ton of other sources, and other geni profiles, and other information, to make the links between R’ Avraham Kalisker, Shneur Zalman, the Maggid of Mezritch and the Tzemech Tzedek, Chabad Rebbe #3.

R’ Avraham Kalisker’s profile links to no-one else’s.

No siblings, no real details about his parents, no descendents.

And it’s not because ‘they’ don’t know…. they really DO know.

And they are deliberately hiding the information, because then we’d understand way more about how R’ Avraham Kalisker was linked, genealogically, to Shneur Zalman, and how both were linked to the Vilna Gaon, and how all of them were somehow linked to other people that they have tried to ‘whitewash’ out of official history.

So that’s another way the information is being obscured and distorted.

====

And then, we have things like this going on:

====

This is an ‘alternative’ profile that was put up for Moshe Shneuri, the Alter Rebbe’s youngest son who DEFINITELY converted to Catholicism in 1820.

Elsewhere, he’s identified as a ‘open’ Frankist.

In this profile, Moshe is identified as the SON of ‘Shalom Shachne Altshuler‘ – who we wrote about a lot in the last post, who is meant to have married Shterna Segal – aka, the wife of the Alter Rebbe.

That would possibly identify ‘Shalom Shachne’ as being one and the same as the Alter Rebbe, and link him possibly to being the son of R’ Avraham of Kalisker, and then Menachem Mendel (Chabad #3) would be the Alter Rebbe’s son, not his grandson.

Which would explain why he was raised in his home, and why the leadership passed to him, and NOT to one of the Mitteler Rebbe’s own children.

====

By contrast, in the official history, Shalom Shachne Altshuler is the grandson of the Maggid of Mezritch via his daughter Ruhama, who is meant to have married both R’ Avraham Kalisker, and also ‘Noach Altshuler‘.

According to Chabad, Shalom Shachne marries Shneur Zalman’s daughter Devorah Leah, and their son, Menachem Mendel, becomes the 3rd Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemech Tzedek.

====

Now, I’m not saying that the above profile is correct – there is so much disinformation going on, it’s almost impossible to tell.

What I AM saying is that there is clearly a lot of deliberate disinformation going on about the Chabad family tree, and instead of dealing with that honestly, they are instead going after the people who are posting up ‘dissenting information’ and bullying them to remove it.

On this profile, you’ll see that in big, shouting CAPITAL LETTERS, they have tagged this profile is DUPLICATE, SHOULD BE DELETED.

Most people will see that, and instantly dismiss this profile as erroneous and wrong.

But, I’m not most people.

====

To conclude.

I am seeing the tactics described above on so many of the profiles of so many important Jewish leaders and figures.

This cover-up is stretching across the Jewish world.

Take a look at who is managing the geni profile for the Vilna Gaon:

====

Well, who would have believed it!

It’s our hold friend Kevin Lawrence Hanit, the same guy who popped up to scare off Lee Jaffe, who was trying to connect ‘Benjamin Braude’ to his ggggg grandma Slawa Brodowicz.

What a CO-INC-ID-ENCE.

Here’s another interesting discussion with ‘Kevin’, who is now busying making the Vilna Gaon’s family tree conform to ‘official history’:

“Kevin. By extracting names from Eliyahu’s Branches and inserting them in Geni you may be breaching the copyright held by the publisher Avotaynu.

Furthermore, the book was published nineteen years ago since when I have collected updates which require addition, deletions and amendments which I hope one day to incorporate in my database which hopefully may be made available on the internet in such a way that it cannot be tampered with.”

====

Poor Chaim Freedman (author of ‘Eliyahu’s Branches’).

He stopped updating his site a few years’ ago, despite having a wealth of new DNA information that links people like Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin straight to the Vilna Gaon.

My guess is that getting that ‘truth’ out there is currently a pretty dangerous business.

It’s easier to sit on it, than to open that massive Pandora’s box that yours truly somehow was dumb enough to start airing out.

====

Here’s another discussion on geni, where you’ll see how the ‘gatekeepers’ are deliberately keeping things mixed up, over even simple things like where the ‘Vilna Gaon’ was born, and how many wives he had:

There are many errors on GENI in the Gaon’s family. Three wives istead of two, two daughters with the same name Khiena, children who were not children. There are 14 mangaers of the profile – too many cooks spoilt the broth.
Users beware of the material presented here.
See my book “Eliyahu’s Branches, the Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family” (Avotaynu 1997) or contact me, Chaim Freedman.

====

I could go on (and on and on….) with this.

Do the experiment yourself: go look up some of the people I’ve mentioned here, and see how many dead ends you run into, how many ‘duplicate profiles’, how many people seem to be married to 4 wives, how many times ‘Keith Lawrence Hanit’, or ‘Malka Mysels’ pops up to keep things confused and muddled – even on totally random profiles.

It’s got to the stage that when I see their names on a profile, I just KNOW that something is being carefully managed or covered up. And that in itself is also proving useful, going forward.

====

The Jewish nation has a right to know what REALLY happened, concerning so many of our leaders in the past.

Chabad, in particular, has been the main conduit for so much that we have been taught to believe was factual history.

They are the source for the whole ‘dispute’ between the Vilna Gaon and the Alter Rebbe.

They are the source for so much of the history of the Jewish communities in Europe before that, and the stories about the Maharal of Prague and his descendants.

If we can’t trust what they have been telling us, that has implications for every area of modern Jewish life, in particular, what really went on around the creation of the State of Israel, and WHO is really pulling the strings here, behind the scenes.

And of course, let’s not forget there’s another branch of the family – the Rothschilds and Schiffs and the Oppenheimers and the Wertheimers – that also needs to be reintegrated into this mix.

====

I’m coming to the tentative conclusion that ‘Rothschilds and Schiffs’ are also the same family.

And that all this is somehow connected to the Bacharach family, via the known Sabbatean R’ Yair Chaim Bacharach (aka the ‘Chavas Yair’), and R’ Yeshaya Horowitz, aka the ‘Shlah Hakadosh’.

But I can’t figure all this out by myself, and time is running out to ‘unpick history’ so we can move forward into geula the sweet way.

====

I’ll let you know if what I wrote here passed the husband test.

But in the meantime, please help me to figure this out.

It’s important.

Because we really ARE just one big family, and once we’ve internalised that, all the petty squabbling, and all the ‘divide and conquer’ strategies the elitists have been using to keep us at each other’s throats, and so weak, disorganised and far away from God, will disappear.

And we can get geula the sweet way.

====

UPDATE:

I forgot to mention another way the ‘gatekeepers’ are distorting history on geni.

They also give deliberately incorrect birth dates for key individuals – often ranging across almost a century! – which makes it very hard to see who came first, who is the father, who is the son, and then enables them to ‘rub out’ some descendants, while also fabricating others.

Again, so much of this information is extant in the pinchasim of the kehillot, which carefully kept track of births, marriages and deaths, much like the Chief Rabbinate of every country continues to do today. And where those records were lost or destroyed because of tragedies, much of the information has still been stored in non-Jewish sources, much as the civil register of births, deaths and marriages functions today, alongside that of the Jewish community.

Why go to all this trouble?

Because so many of our ‘big families’ were directly and obviously connected to known Sabbateans and Frankists.

(And then later on, these ‘secret’ Sabbateans and Frankists effortlessly morphed into the leading lights of the haskalah and reform and Zionist movements.)

That doesn’t mean every member of those families were necessarily Sabbateans and Frankists, but it DOES mean that we can’t just assume that everyone in the position of a ‘big rabbi’ with ‘good yichus’ was certainly operating from the side of good.

Because that just wasn’t the case.

TBC

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I have prayed long and hard about whether to write this.

For well over a month, I have been consumed with research about what really happened to all the many ‘false messiah’ / Shabbatean prophets that popped up in the Jewish community, post-Shabtai Tzvi.

Conventional Jewish history pretty much airbrushed all of these people out of the picture, and made it seem as though only a few people really believed in Shabtai Tzvi; and that only a few more people really followed after Jacob Frank.

That’s not true.

Most of the Jewish world believed in Shabtai Tzvi, and even after he converted to Islam and then died, the movement continued. How? Because people like Nathan of Gaza were on hand to keep the wheel spinning, by explaining that the soul of Shabtai Tzvi would ‘reincarnate’ in each generation.

====

There was a grand battle between Shabtai Tzvi’s successors.

Every few years, there would be another ‘grand battle’ between all the false Shabbatean prophets / false messiahs, over who had really gotten the ‘soul’ of Shabtai Tzvi, or his latest acknowledged successor, after that guy passed away.

If you look carefully through the Jewish history books, you will understand that these battles have continued throughout the last 300 years – even into our days.

But let’s get back to the main meat of this post, which is going to be plenty long enough without any diversions.

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Many of the secret followers of Shabtai Tzvi were rabbis, with the highest pedigree, Torah and yichus.

Many of these rabbis were kabbalists, and it seems to me that their foray into the kabbalah is what made them so susceptible to Shabbatean ‘Torah’.

This isn’t a new phenomena.

When Rabbi Akiva and his three colleagues visited the Pardes (an allusion to the deepest wellsprings of kabbalistic learning), only Rabbi Akiva emerged unscathed.

Ben Azzai died. Ben Zoma lost his mind. And Elisha ben Abuya (‘Acher’) became a heretic.

As it was then, so it was 250 years ago. So many of our leading Torah sages delved too deep in the kabbalah, with the result that many of them literally went crazy, or turned into heretics and atheists, or ‘died’ to the Jewish people by converting out of the faith.

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Here’s what one contemporary wrote about the numbers of rabbis who ‘came out’ as Shabbateans, when Jacob Frank showed up:

[Click the link to see the full passage from the Derashot Beis Peretz, in the original Hebrew.]

“And [the followers of Shabtai Tzvi] had a big debate in the city of Lvov (Lemberg) with all the rabbis of Poland, with more than 200 apikorsim of Shabtai Tzvi….”

Most of these ‘apikorsim of Shabtai Tzvi’ were the leading rabbis of their day.

This is a fact that has been deliberately hidden and obscured from us, for reasons that will become obvious as we continue with this post.

====

As I started to really research what was going on, I came to understand that most of what we’ve been taught about what really happened in the Jewish community from around 1666 on is a deliberate lie.

Most of the Jewish leaders were actually believers in Shabtai Tzvi, and most of the ‘arguments’ between them were NOT based on people who were ‘pro’ Shabtai Tzvi of ‘anti’ Shabtai Tzvi.

Most of the arguments were around which version of Shabtai Tzvi’s path was the correct one to follow, and who was really the ‘true prophet’ carrying forward Shabtai Tzvi’s teachings.

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There is something else to underline, before we continue, and that is that when Moshiach comes, he is going to rectify all of the issues of yichus that have piled up over the last few centuries. All the problems with forbidden relationships, all the mamzerut – Moshiach is going to fix it all.

Last year, I wrote a post which brought most of the sources from the Gemara which cover this subject, and you can read that here:

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This is a crucial things to internalise as we go forward, because many people will be truly shocked to understand that the yichus they may have been boasting about for the last 200 years is actually the very opposite of a good pedigree, Jewishly.

BUT IT CAN AND WILL ALL BE FIXED BY MOSHIACH, SO DON’T DESPAIR!!!

====

I am well aware that I am casting a very big stone in the pond with this information.

Two weeks ago, I decided to pull the plug on my research, and to let sleeping dogs lie. But since then, I’ve had  no peace, internally, and Hashem seems to be pushing me all the time in my hitbodedut to actually get this information out there, as gently as I can.

I guess it boils down to the fact that the world of truth can’t materialise until the world of lies really falls. And until we start to grasp just how many lies the modern Jewish community has been built on, that’s just not going to happen.

So with all those explanations out the way, let’s now get down to business.

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Let’s start the process of uncovering the lies with the story of Abraham Broda, aka Avraham Rovigo, a leading secret Shabbatean of the more ‘moderate’ section of the cult.

(If you want to refresh your memory about what we’ve already covered here on the blog about the false prophets of Shabtai Tzvi, go back and re-read the blog posts I’m placing at the end of this post.)

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Here is the starting point: all of the Shabbatean rabbis and prophets had at least one, if not more, ‘alter egos’.

So it was that they could be pious ‘Avraham Broda’ in one place, one country, and also be a Shabbatian prophet called ‘Avraham Rovigo’ in another context and country.

I have found this occurring again and again, that well known Jewish rabbis and ‘tzaddikim’ are called by one name in the Jewish history books, but went by many other names in the non-Jewish world, and also in different countries.

Some more points to note, before we really dive in, is that surnames only became mandatory within the Jewish community of Eastern Europe / Russia 200 years ago. So it was really easy to chop and change identities at will.

Also, the place names also changed, depending on which country was conquering the population at any given time. So, you can have ‘Lvov’ and ‘Lemberg’ referring to the same city, for example.

And lastly, be aware that many of these people moved around a LOT – and could often be away for years ‘on business’ in other countries, while apparently continuing as the official ‘rav’ of their communities back home.

OK, enough setting the scene. Let’s turn to some details now, about Avraham Broda / Avraham Rovigo.

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In the official history of R’ Abraham Broda (that you can read for yourself HERE, in Hebrew), he’s described as the main rabbinic leader of the diaspora.

Here’s some of the details laid out in that ‘official history’:

  • Abraham Broda is related to the Maharal of Prague. He lives between 1650-1717, and is the son of ‘Shaul’ of Bumsla. His father is concerned about his son being pulled towards the teachings of Shabtai Tzvi, so he sends him to learn in Cracow, with Rabbi Yitzhak Harif.
  • He first becomes the Rav of Lichtenstadt; then he moves to Rodnitz (where he gives his haskamah to Meir Eisenstadt’s book ‘Panim Meirot’. Recall that Meir Eisenstadt is a) the brother of another Shabbatian false messiah called ‘Mordechai Mokiah’, and b) the supporter of another false messiah called Yehudah Leib ben Ya‘akov Holleschau of Prossnitz.)
  • From Rodnitz, Avraham Broda becomes a rabbi in Prague. In each place he goes, he opens up big yeshivas that attract thousands of students.

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  • Avraham Broda’s students include:

    • Jonathan Eybshutz
    • Yosef Steinhardt
    • Yona Lansdorfer
    • Netanel Weil / Wehle

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Let’s take a look at what happened to some of these students of Abraham Broda, as Rebbe Nachman teaches that like a seal imprinting in wax, you can tell if a leader is really ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by looking at his students.

Jonathan Eybshutz we already know is (rightly…) suspected of being a Shabbatean.

His son, Wolf, comes out publically as another Shabbatean ‘false messiah’ even in his father’s lifetime.

I’m also currently chasing down another line of research that suggests the Moses Dobrushka, Jacob Frank’s first cousin once removed and a notorious ‘antinomian Shabbatean’ was a grandson of Jonatan Eybshutz.

Then there’s the fact that Jonatan Eybshutz brazenly spelled out the name ‘Shabtai Tsvi’ on his wife Elka’s gravestone.

And if you read Heinrich Graetz ‘History of the Jews‘, you’ll learn a lot more details besides, that suggest R Yonatan was indeed a Sabbatian, and also a ‘false prophet’ himself.

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Next up, we have R’ Yosef Steinhardt.

‘Steinhardt’ is a made-up name, and with a little bit of digging, we discover that ‘Yosef Steinhardt’, author of Koach Shor, appears to be Isaac Shor.

The Shor family was one of the most well-known in Galicia, and intermarried with many of the biggest rabbinical dynasties.

Sadly, they were also hardcore secret Shabbatians, and when Jacob Frank came along, the family ‘came out’ publically.

You can read more about them HERE. Here’s a taster:

“ELISHA SCHOR, the first known of the ramified Wolowski family, was a descendant of Zalman Naphtali Schor, rabbi of *Lublin. For many years Elisha Schor held the position of Maggid in the community of *Rogatin….

The children of Elisha Schor, Solomon, Nathan, Lipman, Hayyah, and their families adhered to the Frankist sect, until their conversion to Christianity in 1759, when they changed their name to Wolowski (Pol. wol = Heb. shor). They held various positions in the court of Jacob Frank in Poland and in Offenbach.”

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The Shor family got ‘airbrushed’ out of Jewish history now, so it’s hard tracking them all down. Suffice to say, that while some Schors openly became Frankists and then converted to Catholicism, other members of the family continued to stay within the Jewish community – and many of them continued to be ‘secret Shabbateans’.

====

So, Joseph Steinhardt / Isaac Shor marries a woman called Kreindall.

Kreindall is the daughter of Yehuda Leib Berlin, who happens to be the son of Mordechai Mokiah, brother of R’ Meir of Eisenstadt and another false Shabbatean ‘messiah’.

I can’t stress how important it is to understand that these ‘secret’ followers of Shabtai Tzvi tried very hard to just marry each other, across many generations.

Once you get that, it gets way easier to start tracking them all down. Let’s continue.

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R’ Yona Lansdorfer – author of the ‘Me’il Tzedaka’ – dies young, and is officially described as someone who ‘fought against Sabbatians’.

Again, this is misleading. He fought against a different branch of Sabbatian thinking, but if you take a look at what happened to his descendants, you can see that his own Shabbatean streak came out very clearly later on.

Here is Yona Lansdorfer’s page on geni.com – backed up with supporting documents (very important, because there are so many ‘faked’ geni pages around Sabbatians and their descendants.)

Yona’s son is Mendel Lansdorfer.

Mendel’s daughter, Slava Malka, marries one Hersch Aaron Beer Wehle.

Their son is Jonas (Yonah) Beer Wehle.

Here’s what YIVO has to say about him, and his descendants:

“According to the testimony of Moses Porges, Yonah Beer Wehle was a leader of the Sabbatians in Prague.

On several occasions, he visited the Frankist court in Offenbach and was the main financial supporter of Ewa Frank. His sons Avraham and Akiva spent a period of time at the Offenbach court and reportedly recorded Ewa’s visions, which were later included in the unpublished manuscript “The Prophecies of Isaiah.”

During their stay in Offenbach, Akiva and Avraham were baptized and assumed the names of Joseph and Max Klarenberg. Yonah’s daughter Deborah married Löw Enoch Edler von Hönigsberg, another important Sabbatian leader and author of numerous kabbalistic manuscripts.

In 1849, Gottlieb Wehle (1802–1881), the great-uncle of Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis and a first cousin of Zacharias Frankel, settled in New York. In his last will, Gottlieb Wehle presented the Sabbatianism of his ancestor as an emancipatory movement of social and moral advance, leading revolution against petrified orthodoxy.”

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How did the Lansdorfers link up with the Wehles?

Here’s one suggestion: The last student of Abraham Broda, named above, is

R’ Netanel Weil / Wehle, author of the ‘Korban Netanel’.

On Wikipedia, you can read an official history of Netanel HERE.

And you can read the will of unrepentantant Frankist Gottlieb Wehle (who is very likely Netanel’s descendant) HERE.

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LET’S GET BACK TO R’ ABRAHAM BRODA / ROVIGO.

How do we know that ‘Abraham Broda’ is one and the same as ‘Avraham Rovigo’?

Simple. Both of them lived at exactly the same time, and both of them wrote a book called ‘Eshel Avraham’. 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.” 

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In 1702, Avraham Broda / Rovigo set up a Shabbatean kabbalist yeshiva in Jerusalem, in preparation for the ‘second coming’ of Shabtai Tzvi. Who did he ask for advice, on who to include in this Shabbatean beit midrash? Israel Chasid, son in law of Judah Ha-Hasid:

ISAIAH ḤASID FROM ZBARAZH (17th–18th centuries), Shabbatean scholar, the son-in-law of *Judah he-Ḥasid. In 1700 Isaiah Ḥasid immigrated to Jerusalem with his father-in-law and his companions. When the kabbalist Abraham *Rovigo arrived in *Jerusalem in 1702 and founded there a bet midrash for ten select members, he took Isaiah Ḥasid’s advice as to who should be admitted to it.

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There are many, many links between the settlement of Eretz Yisrael over the last 200 years and all these Shabbatians.

We will, BH, get to that in another post. For now, let’s carry on trying to pin down Abraham Broda’s descendants.

And here is where things are about to get even more controversial.

The official history lists the following children for Abraham Broda:

  • Moshe Broda (1675-1741), Rav of Tiktin / Tykocin, then Bamberg, then Rav of Varmisai.

His daughter Sarah marries R Shmuel Shlesinger. They have a son called Moshe Ginz, and he has a son called Rav Akiva Eiger.

Yes, the famous Rabbi Akiva Eiger is the great-grandson of the Shabbatean prophet Avraham Rovigo.

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On geni.com, we learn that the Eshel Avraham has six more children that the official history doesn’t really talk about. These include:

  • An unnamed daughter, who is the wife of R Yosef Moshe of Breslau.
  • R’ Shlomo Zalman Braude (dies 1742), the ABD of Mergentheim.
  • Esther, who marries R’ Isaak Nathan Schwabacher.

I think this ‘Shlomo Zalman Braude’ is the father of the Vilna Gaon (and also possibly connected to Shneur Zalman, Chabad’s Alter Rebbe.)

Let’s try to continue unpicking all this.

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The official history ignores all these other children, then suddenly jumps to recounting the history of Aharon Broda, the ABD of Kalwaria, later dayan in Vilna, without explaining how he is connected to Abraham Broda / Rovigo (the Eshel Avraham)

Aharon Broda is listed as having two brothers:

  1. R’ Itzhak ‘Harif’ Broda, of Meitzad (who is possibly the same ‘Yitzhak Harif’ of Krakow, who learns with the Eshel Avraham, above).
  2. R’ Avraham Broda, the ABD of Serhei – who we are told is a ‘close friend’ of the Vilna Gaon.

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Now, let’s go to the ‘official genealogy’ for the Vilna Gaon HERE, we learn the following:

Yehudah Leib Vilner son of Eliyahu Gaon of Vilna and Khana of Keidan, born 1764, Vilna, Lithuania, married daughter of Avraham of Serhei and Esther Jaffe, born Alinka, Lithuania, . Yehudah died 1816, Neustadt- Sugind, Lithuania.

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Yehuda Leib Vilner is listed as a son of the Vilna Gaon, and one of the main people who disseminated his father’s teachings, after his death in 1797.

There are many, many mysteries surrounding the genealogy of the Vilna Gaon, but here we have at least one clear piece of information officially linking his family to that of the Sabbatian prophet, the Eshel Avraham.

(This is a good time to remember that all these Sabbatians liked to keep things in the family, and often just kept marrying each other. That’s also why I think the ‘Shlomo Zalman Broda’ listed above is a likely candidate for the Vilna Gaon’s father.)

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If we continue with the official genealogy of the Broda family, we are told that Aaron Broda (ABD of Kalawaria and dayan of Vilna, brother of Abraham Broda of Serhei) has six sons – but it only lists five:

  • Binyamin Broda, ABD of Horodna / Grodna
  • Aryeh Leib Broda, ABD of Kalawaria
  • DovBer Broda, ABD of Zablodova
  • Yosef Broda, Rav of Tiktin / Tykocin
  • Tzvi Hirsh Broda of Salant – the first rebbe of Yisrael Salanter, the founder of the mussar movement

I think the sixth son is Gershon Broda aka Gershon Vilna aka Gershon RIVLIN.

(RIVLIN is just an anagram of VILNER. This piece of information is crucial to understand where the infamous Rivlin family of Shklov that basically control Eretz Israel spring from.)

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Now, we go to the blog of Athol Bloomer, a modern-day Frankist / Zoharist / Hebrew Catholic, who has a habit of mixing up a lot of truth with a lot of lies, about what was going on back in Poland around the time of Frank.

I am still trying to work through all of Bloomer’s claims, to see what is true and what isn’t, and it’s a massive job, not least because of all the lies being told on the Jewish community’s side of the fence.

But according to Bloomer, this Binyamin Broda remained in the Jewish community as the Frankist ‘Tzaddik’, after so many of the other Frankists publically converted out:

“Rebbe Benjamin was the Frankist Tzadik of those who remained in the Jewish community but also was known as Alexander Brody in the Christian community.

His first wife was Chaya Rivkah Margolioth (Margarita). His first father-in-law Zvi Hirsh was the Rabbi of Zbaraz in Galicia [who was the son of Mordechai Margolioth]. He went to live with his father-in-law after his marriage and took the name Alexander Margolioth and succeeded him as Rabbi of Zbaraz in about 1774.

After this he was the Rabbi of Ossatin (or Satanov-Ossatin and Satanov have been confused). After 1802 he moved to Shklov.”

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I think this ‘Binyamin Broda’ is the same person as ‘Binyamin Rivlin of Shklov’, who is listed as the ‘cousin of the Vilna Gaon, and one of his greatest students’.

In the ‘official history’, Binyamin Rivlin was the father of Hillel Rivlin of Shklov – who lead the Vilna Gaon’s group of Perushim to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

This link (in Hebrew) also shows that Binyamin Rivlin was connected to Joshua Zeitlin, and that both men were connected to the Vilna Gaon:

“Together with Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin, [Binyamin Rivlin] founded the “Yeshivat Ha’iluim” in Shklov. The Gaon from Vilnius was present at the founding of the yeshiva.”

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Both Binyamin Rivlin and Joshua Zeitlin were leaders of the haskalah, as I covered in THIS post.

They were playing a double game – ‘super pious’ Jews in one arena, and men who were pushing for enlightenment and assimilation in another.

This type of stunning, two-faced hypocrisy is a hallmark of Sabbateans, and was honed to a fine art by Frankists.

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I’m going to stop here for now, as I know this is a lot to take in, and I still have a ton more information to present.

Let’s try to recap the main points, before we move forward with more links, in the next post.

  • The Eshel Avraham, Avraham Broda / Rovigo was a Sabbatean prophet, and leader of the more moderate branch of Sabbatians.
  • He established yeshivas all over the Jewish world, and had literally thousands of students.
  • Many of his students, including Yonatan Eybshutz, Yonah Lansdorfer and Netanel Weil / Wehle appear to have been secret Sabbatians. This showed itself in their descendants, many of whom were at the forefront of the Frankist movement.
  • There were literally hundreds of leading Rabbis who were secret Sabbatians in the Jewish world, in the century following Shabtai Tzvi’s conversion to Islam and death. Many of these people – like the Shor family – have been airbrushed out of conventional Jewish history.
  • The descendants of these Sabbatians continue to play a very big part in the Jewish world today, both in the diaspora and the State of Israel.
  • Binyamin Broda – a close family member of the Eshel Avraham – is identified with Binyamin Rivlin of Shklov, one of the leading disciples of the Vilna Gaon, and father of Hillel of Shklov, who lead the Perushim to Eretz Yisrael.
  • Binyamin Broda is also identified by Athol Bloomer as being the leader of the ‘secret Frankists’ who remain within the Jewish community.
  • The Vilna Gaon is also ‘officially’ related to the Broda family, via Abraham Broda of Serhei, whose daughter marries the Vilna Gaon’s son, Yehuda Leib.
  • Binyamin Broda / Rivlin and Yehoshua Zeitlin were leaders of the haskalah, and both are closely connected to the Vilna Gaon.
  • Yes, I’m suggesting that the Vilna Gaon and his circle were probably closely connected to secret Sabbatians / Frankists. That’s why there is so much deliberate ‘confusion’ being sown about their genealogies.

And I have a lot more still to share with you, about some other leading Jewish figures who were closely connected to these secret Frankists / Sabbatians.

TBC

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UPDATE:

According to Yivo, Aharon Broda is the son of Moshe Broda.

That makes Benjamin Broda / Rivlin the Eshel Avraham’s great-grandson.

And I tracked down some more members of the infamous Schor family too, here, who changed their name to ‘Brodski’, became fabulously wealthy, and then intermarried with the Gintsburgs of St Petersburg:

The Brodskiis originated in BrodyGalicia, with the family name Schor; the name Brodskii was taken by Me’ir (Mark) Schor when he moved to the small town of Zlatopol’ in Kiev province in the early nineteenth century. The family had a pedigree of some distinction, as Me’ir’s grandfather had been Rabbi Aleksander Schor, author of a work on Jewish law entitled Simlah ḥadashah.

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UPDATE 2:

Joseph Steinhardt’s father was called Menachem Mendel Steinhardt.

He was also from the notorious Shor family.

There appears to be some confusion in what I’ve found online as to whether he was one and the same person as Menachem Mendel of Nikolsburg, who wrote a book called She’elot and Teshuvot Tzemech Tzedek, or just his grandson, with the same name.

What’s not in dispute is that ‘Menachem Mendel Steinhardt’ wrote a book called Divrei Iggeret, which maybe you won’t be so surprised to know, was criticised (and also hailed) as the ‘harbinger of the reform movement’.

See here, and below:

The following info about Menachem Mendel Steinhardt (Shor) comes from the ANU musueam database:

Born in Fuerth, Germany, he became rabbi in Minden and then in Hildesheim. He was involved with the forerunners of the Reform movement and was the first German rabbi to preach in German and to omit sections of the traditional liturgy. His lenient ruling permitting legumes to be eaten on Passover provoked the anger of the Orthodox rabbis.

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If we go back to geni.com, we can make the link between Menachem Mendel Schor (Steinhardt) and the infamous Elisha Schor, Rav of Rohatyn, whose whole family came out openly as Frankists, and converted en masse to Polish catholicism:

Menachem Mendel’s great-grandfather, Zalman, was Elisha Schor’s brother.

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One of the ‘forerunners of the Reform Movement’ was a man named Israel Jacobson. Menachem Mendel Steinhardt and he were in close cahoots together.

I have a hunch that ‘Israel Jacobson’ is probably one of Jacob Frank’s children or grandchildren, who stayed within the Jewish community to disrupt it internally.

As I’ve discovered, many of Frank’s descendants went by some version of ‘the son of Jacob’ as their surname.

As I’m sure you can appreciate, the tracks leading back to Jacob Frank have been obscured, so it’s going to take me a while to unpick it all to find out.

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OTHER BLOG POSTS COVERING SHABTAI TZVI AND HIS MANY FALSE PROPHETS:

 

I think we’re probably going to get up to part 99 of this saga, the way things are going…

You know, I love a good mystery, and I love the ‘thrill’ of figuring things out. But I have to say, that even I am starting to be overwhelmed by all the twists and turns in the tangled web of ‘Jewish genealogy’ I’m caught up in the moment.

If you haven’t been paying attention, I’m trying to figure out a few things, not least:

  1. How exactly the Vilna Gaon and the Alter Rebbe are connected.

I know they are close family members – brothers, cousins, maybe even father and son, but I haven’t pinned it down exactly yet.

2. Why there are so many deliberate lies and distortions going on around the family trees of Yonatan Eybshutz, the Vilna Gaon, the Alter Rebbe and Jacob Frank (amongst many others…)

As I’ve mentioned, there are a few ‘gatekeepers’ on the geni.com website who keep popping up again and again and again, when I input certain family names.

Whenever I’m pursuing an interesting avenue, all the leads suddenly dry up, and it’s as though these people sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus.

No parents, no siblings, no other children…. always at those intersections where I would start to see how one group, one specific family, might link to another.

But Hashem is sending me more and more leads all the time, and BH, even with all the lies being told, we’re going to figure this out.

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3. How is it, that so many of the ‘leading lights’ surrounding the Vilna Gaon apparently had double identities as the leaders of the haskalah movement?

Let’s give a concrete example.

If you go HERE, you’ll find the following information about ‘Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin’, a leading figure in the community of Shklov and the surrounding areas (I’ve screenshotted all of this, to make sure it doesn’t disappear…)

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According to this rosy write up, Rav Yehoshua Zeitlin was a gaon, and a talmid of the Vilna Gaon and Rav Aryeh Leib Ginsburg, the Sha’agas Aryeh.

He was also wealthy – we’re told by this write up, from hamodia.com – and ‘supported many talmidim from his own pocket’.

Now it lists three of his ‘many talmidim’:

  1. Rabbi Menachem Leffin
  2. Rav Binyamin Rivlin
  3. Rav Boruch of Shklov

Here’s where it gets really interesting.

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When I went to look up ‘Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin’ (1742-1822, born in Kherson) – this is what I discovered.

He was a Baron – Joshua Von Zeitlin – and the main supplier for Potemkin’s Russian armies, during the Turkish-Russian wars that began in 1768. Count Potemkin was a favorite of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. You can read more about Potemkin HERE.

Here’s what the translation from an article in alef magazine (now mysteriously taken off line…) said about Baron Joshua Von Zeitlin:

“Yehoshua Zeitlin (1742–1822) is a personality not yet fully appreciated by historians. Meanwhile, he was the first prominent Jewish figure in Russia to combine deep rabbinical scholarship with a passionate desire to familiarize his fellow tribesmen with Russian public life. A prominent Hebraist and subtle interpreter of the Talmud, he at the same time highly appreciated Russian culture.

Yehoshua was a native of Shklov and came from a well-known and noble Jewish family…”

There’s more. Let’s continue. Another one of Catherine the Great’s boyfriends, Count Semyon Gavrilovich Zorich (1745-1799) is ‘retired’ to Shklov in 1777, where he soon creates a court to rival that of St Petersburg. Semyon has bad middot (to put it mildly…) and creates a very loose, immoral atmosphere in Shklov.

====

Somehow or other, Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin and his brother become Semyon’s main helpers and advisors:

Yehoshua (together with his brother, who was sent by Zorich to Riga to buy antiques and “soft junk” there at a reasonable price) becomes his assistant. It is not known what exactly the Count’s assignments were carried out by Zeitlin, but there is evidence that in the 1770s and 1780s he often visited Berlin on the instructions of this tyrant.

Fortunately, from such voyages, our hero [i.e. Joshua Zeitlin] received not only commercial benefits, but also abundant food for the mind.

He became close to the leaders of the Berlin Haskala and became a frequent visitor to the house of the founder of Jewish enlightenment, “Jewish Socrates” Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1789). Friendship ties tied him with such prominent Maskilim as the Chief Rabbi of Berlin, Hirsch Lebel (1721-1800); the outstanding linguist and exegete Naftali-Hertz Wesseli (1725-1805); the herald of reformism in Judaism, David Friedlander (1750–1834), and others. (Emphasis mine.)

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Before I continue, let’s just recap what we’ve discovered.

On the one hand, ‘Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin’ is being lauded as a gaon and a tzaddik, author of the Amudei Gola sefer in the pages of Hamodia.

And on the other, we discover that he’s a leading proponent of ‘haskalah’ in Eastern Europe, and is hanging out with Moses Mendelssohn and others who were men known for pushing the ‘enlightened’ and ‘reform’ agenda.

What in the world is going on?

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So now, I wanted to find a screenshot of Baron Joshua Zeitlin’s sefer, the Amudei Gola, and God sent me another mystery.

First, here’s the screenshot of the book, from here:

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Sit down for this next bit.

The two people who gave Joshua Zeitlin’s book an approbation are R’Chanoch Henich Shick of Shklov – and the Baal HaTanya, Rav Shnuer Zalman Baruchovitch of Liadi.

Apparently, the auction house tells us that: ‘This is one of the few approbations of the Baal HaTanya that has seen print.’

So now, you tell me how it is that ‘Rabbi Yehoshua Zeitlin’s’ book has got an approbation from the Alter Rebbe, when he is described as being a close student of the Vilna Gaon.

And while you’re at it, please also tell me why one of the ‘few approbations’ of the Alter Rebbe should be found in a book written by a man who was a leading maskil.

And also, why Joshua Zeitlin is listed as the father in law of ‘Reb Alexander Sender’ – apparently one of the Alter Rebbe’s favorite talmidim:

Alexander Sender of Shklov was an outstanding chassid of the First Chabad Rebbe, a generous businessman of exemplary piety. When he passed away, the Alter Rebbe paid a condolence call to his father and testified that he had seen his soul “in exceptionally bright, shining garments” (Beis Rebbe). His grandson, Aharon, was the father of the fourth Rebbe’s wife, Rivka.

In fact, he was SO beloved by the Alter Rebbe that the 6th Rebbe, the Rayatz, wrote a whole chapter about him in his work ‘Her Husband’s Crown’, which you can read for yourself HERE.

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Hey, even more interesting!

That link that I had in the comments section on this post: https://www.rivkalevy.com/curiouser-and-curiouser/, linking to this: http://www.sichos-in-english.org/books/sefer-hatoldos-admur-maharash/15.htm – has now disappeared.

It seems Chabad have now taken the book offline.

(I downloaded it all anyway, because I had a feeling something like that might happen.)

But hey Chabad, what do you have to hide?

Why remove the sichot of the Rayatz, describing his ancestor’s family tree, and particularly his links to his follower, ‘Reb Alexander Sender‘, and the story of Rebbetzin Lea Golde Broda, mother of the 4th Rebbe?

(Honestly, I’m starting to have a theory about that, but let’s continue.)

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Let’s go back.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about ‘Baron Joshua Zeitlin’:

Joshua Zeitlin (1742 in ShklovBelarus – August 18, 1822, in KhersonNovorossiya) was a Russian rabbinical scholar and philanthropist. He was a pupil of the Talmudist Rabbi Aryeh Leib ben Asher Gunzberg who was the author of Sha’agat Aryeh; and, being an expert in political economy, he maintained close relations with Prince Potemkin, the favorite of Catherine II. During the Turko-Russian war, Zeitlin furnished the Russian army with various supplies, and managed that business so cleverly that he was afterward appointed imperial court councilor.

On retiring from business in the civil rank of Court Counsellor, Zeitlin resided on his estate Ustzia, where he was occasionally consulted by rabbis with regard to rabbinical questions. He rendered pecuniary assistance to many Talmudists and scholars, and supported a magnificent beit midrash, in which many Jewish scholars were provided with all of life’s necessities, so that they could pursue their vocations without worries of any kind.

Among the scholars who benefited from his generosity were: Rabbi Nahum, author of Tosafot BikkurimMendel Lepin, author of Cheshbon ha-Nefesh; and the physician Baruch Schick

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Mendel Lepin = ‘Rabbi Menachem Leffin’ (1749-1826)

(He may well also be the same ‘Menachem Mendel Levin’ who authored a sefer called ‘Cheshbon HaNefesh’.)

Here’s what we learn about ‘Mendel Lepin / Lefin / Levin’ from the Jewish encyclopaedia:

LEVIN (LEFIN), MENAHEM MENDEL (1749–1826), early Haskalah author, translator, and educator. Born in Satanov, Podolia, he had a traditional Jewish education but also studied sciences, mathematics, and medieval philosophy in his youth.

From 1780 to 1783/84 Levin lived in Berlin, where he met Moses *Mendelssohn, through whom he established contact with the leaders of the Haskalah. …

Levin taught mathematics and philosophy to Czartoryski’s children, which was rare at that time, and dedicated his unpublished philosophical treatise, “Aus dem Nachlass eines Sonderlings zu Abdera,” to Czartoryski’s wife. When the great Sejm met in Warsaw (1788–92), Levin participated in discussions on contemporary problems.

Toward the end of the 18th century, he resided in Ustye and in St. Petersburg in the home of the wealthy philanthropist J. *Zeitlin, serving as tutor to his grandson. After 1808 he lived in Brody and Tarnopol, where his influence on the maskilim in Galicia, notably N. *Krochmal and J. *Perl, was so considerable that he is regarded as the father of the Galician Haskalah.

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Isn’t that shocking?

Yet again, we see that the people being lauded as the main disciples of the Vilna Gaon are one and the same as the people mamash leading the haskalah in Europe.

What on earth is going on here?

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I’m still  looking into ‘Boruch of Shklov’ and ‘Rabbi Binyamin Rivlin’, (amongst other things) so expect this series of ‘curiouser and curioser’ to continue for some time.

But there are some very serious questions bobbing up here about who exactly the Vilna Gaon really was, who his students really were – and what they really stood for – and how the Alter Rebbe and Chabad chassidut connects into this whole hot mess.

TBC

(Unless someone in 770 decides to try and take my blog out of action again 😉

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UPDATE:

Here’s what I found about Baruch Schick of Shklov:

He was another radical maskil, and another ‘student’ of the Vilna Gaon. And he’s connected to the Rabbi Chanoch Henich Shick of Shklov who gave approbations for that sefer, above, together with the Ba’al HaTanya:

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SCHICK, BARUCH BEN JACOB (also known as Baruch Shklover , from the name of his birthplace, Shklov; 1740?–after 1812), rabbi, physician, and one of the pioneers of *Haskalah of Eastern Europe.

Schick was ordained as a rabbi in 1764 and subsequently served as dayyan in Minsk. In his youth he was already attracted to the Haskalah and general knowledge. His first scholarly work and his other works were lost in a conflagration. He traveled to London to study medicine and there joined the Freemasons. After qualifying as a doctor he moved to Berlin, where he became acquainted with the maskilim of the town, including Moses *Mendelssohn and Naphtali Herz *Wessely.

In 1778, on his way back to Minsk, he visited Vilna and was in the group associated with Elijah b. Solomon (the Gaon of Vilna), in whose name he published a statement on the need for scientific knowledge for an understanding of the Torah…. He stated that the Gaon of Vilna advised him to translate scientific works into Hebrew in order to make their contents available to Jews….

After some time he settled in Shklov, and there he belonged to the maskilim whose needs were supplied by the wealthy Joshua *Zeitlin of Ustye near Shklov….

Schick devoted his energies to arousing his fellow Jews to the need for studying the arts and sciences. He regarded the neglect of the sciences as caused by the exile. He repeated the accusations of his predecessor, Israel Moses ha-Levi *Zamoscz, against the fanatical rabbis and leaders who persecuted and condemned the maskilim. To restore science to its former place of honor, he pleaded for a revival of Hebrew, in which scientific works intended for his people should be written.”

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UPDATE #2:

The link to the Chabad writings is working again. Baruch Hashem.

UPDATE #3:

Here’s a screenshot mentioned by Aliza, below, in the comments section, that comes from this book:

The Secret Doctrine of the Gaon of Vilna Volume II: The Josephic Messiah, Leviathan, Metatron and the Sacred Serpent

From what I remember from the comments of Netanel Simcha, who mentioned that ‘Metatron’ is the reason Acher turned into an anti-Torah heretic, it seems that this angel is back in the picture here, too.

The book is written by the descendant of the Vilna Gaon’s brother, R Avraham Ragoler, and sets out the Vilna Gaon’s ‘kabbalah’ connected to geula and moshiach.

You’ll notice that the Gaon apparently refers to HIMSELF as Moshiach ben Yosef….

Which is interesting, hey?

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been consumed over the last few weeks with ‘getting to the bottom’ of what really happened in the Jewish community 200 years ago.

Literally every day for three weeks, I’ve sat at my computer for 10 hours a day, poring over genealogical tables, reading every description of Jewish life in Podolia and Belarus I could get my hands on, and generally praying long prayers that God should show me what He wants me to be doing with all the information that’s been turning up.

Yesterday, on Shabbat, I did another prayer-a-thon, to try to get some clarity on this issue in a whole bunch of different ways.

This morning, I woke up with an answer, a derech, to how to get at least some of the information ‘out there’ in a useful way, that will hopefully start to heal the divisions within the Jewish community, instead of exacerbating them further.

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The Sitra Achra is so clever.

It’s been pursuing a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ amongst us for thousands of years, already. We could say all this started with the Tsadukim, (Sadducees) – but we’d be totally wrong about that.

All this traces back to Korach, the first ‘tzaddik’ and ‘talmid chacham’ who put his ego ahead of what was best for the klal, and who fractured the Jewish people into different camps, for and against Moshe.

And it traces back to the spies, who slandered the land of Israel and then fractured the Jewish people into different camps for and against making Aliyah.

And even, it traces back to the 4/5 of the Jewish people who died in Egypt in the plague of darkness, because they lacked the emuna to really want to leave their exile.

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I could probably keep going, all the way back through history, where each time there was divisions and hatred between different family members, until we arrive at Kayin and Hevel.

Kayin believed the world was too small for both of them, so he did away with the competition.

And now, it’s time to try to start fixing this problem, by welding things back together.

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In the Jewish world of today, the Sitra Achra has done an excellent job of dividing us up smaller and smaller into warring factions.

Just some of the camps we’ve been shoved into are:

  • Religious vs secular
  • Left vs right
  • Ashkenazi vs Sephardi
  • Dati Leumi vs Haredi
  • Chassidic vs Litvish
  • Zionist vs anti-zionist
  • And of course, today we also have pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine, and pro-mask and anti-mask, and pro-Trump and anti-Trump….

The list goes on and on.

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Over time, I’ve learnt that the people who are so mercilessly pushing their agendas, their viewpoints, onto other people are at least a touch mentally-ill.

I was in that space myself until a few years ago, trying to ‘force’ all my relatives outside of Israel to make Aliyah, and trying to ‘force’ my children into wearing socks all the way up to their toosik, and also trying to ‘force’ myself into all sorts of boxes that just didn’t fit, because I’d been brainwashed into thinking that’s what God wanted.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to the main point of today’s post.

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In all my digging around in the genealogical tables, I realized a lot of interesting things.

One of the most interesting things that I realized is that so many of the groups listed above were and are being led by members of the same small set of families. Many of these families trace back – via multiple ancestors – to the Maharal of Prague and the Maharam of Padua, and beyond.

Way, way beyond.

One we realized just how ‘connected’ the Jewish people really are, by blood, by marriage, by history – then it becomes totally ridiculous to start pointing fingers at the other groups, and claiming there is something ‘wrong’ with them that isn’t also ‘wrong’ with us.

How can we accuse other groups of consisting solely of ‘erev Rav’ when we have the same parents and grandparents in common?

How can we claim that our gene pool, our yichus,  is somehow superior, when that same gene pool produced the biggest tzaddikim – and also the biggest gangsters, murderers and idolators?

(If you’re getting a bit stuck with this concept, pick up a copy of my book Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, where I clearly set out how to really deal with the problem.)

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Bad people, bad Jews, bad ‘Erev Rav’ are not just on the other side of the debate.

The Sitra Achra has been working so hard to make us think that this is the case, because when we can pretend to ourselves that only lefties are bad; or that only people who don’t vaccinate are bad; or that only Bibi is bad….

[Fill in the blank]

We are totally missing the whole point.

The point is to work on ourselves, our own bad middot, our own lack of emuna, our own issues, and to stop spending all our time pointing out the ‘bad’ in others.

To put this another way:

All of us contain bad. And God expects all of us to work on it, and uproot it.

And whenever someone is running around shrieking that only their group, their path, their derech contains ‘good’ – well.

They’re wrong.

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So now, of all the many millions and billions of bits of information that I could share with you to make the point, I’ve settled on this:

The Vilna Gaon and the Alter Rebbe were very close family members.

This information has been so heavily and deliberately obscured (for reasons that I am choosing to not go into, at least for now) that you will probably have great difficulty in believing me.

But even with all the deliberate disinformation, and the deliberate changing of dates and names, and the conspiracy of silence that has grown up around this topic, last week, I finally figured enough out to tell you that they are definitely very close relatives.

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Here’s how I think they are related.*

They are all members of the same Rivlin family.

Eliyahu Rivlin (the Vilna Gaon) was the father or possibly grandfather of Shlomo Zalman Rivlin, aka Schneur Zalman (the Alter Rebbe).

Shlomo Zalman Rivlin had a brother called Tzvi Hirsch Rivlin.

Tzvi Hirsch Rivlin’s daughter, Shifra, married Shlomo Zalman’s Rivlin’s son, Moshe.

But that’s not all.

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Most of the ‘Vilna Gaon’s’ closest disciples appear to also have been his family members, his sons / grandsons.

Those people were also the very close relatives of the Chabad rebbes.

Many of those people – all the same members of the Rivlin family – moved to Eretz Israel.

Some came dressed as chassidim, some came dressed as Perushim, some came dressed as secular chalutznikim – and many of them became the ancestors of the main players in what became the modern State of Israel.

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Clearly, I’m leaving out some big parts of this story.

Take a look at Joshua Zeitlin (whose alter ego in the ‘frum’ Jewish world was Natan Neta Notkin), the father-in-law of ‘Reb Alexander Sander’, a very popular figure in Chabad mythology, and also, Zeitlin is strangely connected on a very deep level to many of the Vilna Gaon’s students.

And many of those students are credited with being the ‘fathers’ of the haskalah movement.

Whoever has eyes to see, will see.

But let me end with this.

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Did you know that Binyamin Netanyahu, whose family surname was originally ‘Milikovsky’, is a descendant of the Vilna Gaon?

See here for more information:

Nathan Milikowsky Netanyahu was born to Zvi in Krevo (Vilna area)
in 1875, a descendant of the Gaon from Vilna. He studied at the
Volozhin Yeshiva for 8 years and then became an orator preaching about Zionism. He migrated (with his children who were born in Warsaw) to Palestine in 1920 and served as headmaster of various Hebrew high schools in several towns before settling in Jerusalem as an official of the World Zionist Organization.

On his arrival in Palestine, Milikovsky changed the family name to Netanyahu (“Lord has given”). He was from the beginning a supporter of right-wing views in the Zionist movement, a tendency which deepened in the next generations of his closely knit family. He passed away in 1935.

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It’s all just one, big (unhappy….) family….

TBC

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* Many of these people have multiple names and multiple identities, depending on what ‘role’ they are playing.

Slowly, slowly, I’m unpicking it all. But clearly, there’s ample room for error here, especially with all the deliberate cover-up, so I am presenting this as a best guess for how they are related, and I will refine it as new information comes to light.

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What was really the disagreement, between the Vilna Gaon and the early leaders of chassidut?

If we’ve learnt anything at all about the fight between the followers of the Baal Shem Tov and chassidut, and the followers of the Lithuanian path of mitnagdim, as exemplified by the Vilna Gaon and his followers, this is probably what we believe:

The Vilna Gaon and the mitnagdim became ‘anti’ the chassidim and the followers of the Baal Shem Tov, because they were worried about ‘false messiahs’ in the wake of the Shabtai Tzvi affair.

Right?

That’s what we think the whole disagreement was about? That the Baal Shem Tov started this new ‘Tzaddik-centric’ approach to Judaism, and all the Litvak rabbis decided to excommunicate the people practicing chassidut because they were worried that another ‘false religion’ would spring up.

Guess what…that’s not really what happened. Or at least, not at the beginning of this whole story, back in the 1700s. As I started to set out in THIS POST, geula-fever was alive and well in the 18th century, fueled by kabbalistic speculation that the time for ‘the End’ had come, and geula was about to happen.

As I covered in that post, there were a few key dates that the kabbalists had pegged for the final coming of Moshiach, all based on the gematria of the word ‘dawn’, and allusions to that word in the Zohar and in the book of Daniel.

These years were:

1748 – which was proceeded by an ‘elite aliya’ of the Jewish world’s leading kabbalists to Israel, including the Ohr HaChaim from Morocco, the RaMCHaL from Italy, and many kabbalists and mystics from the Ashkenazi world too, including Rabbi Gershon of Kutow, the BESHT’s brother-in-law.

1753 – when three huge kabbalists in Israel including the CHIDA, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash), and Rabbi Chaim de la Roza tried to ‘force’ the end of days via kabbalistic uses of Hashem’s mystical names. Heaven forced them to stop, and the CHIDA had to go into exile for 5 years.

1781 – which was again proceeded by a ‘chassidic’ aliya from the Ashkenazi world, which was led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.

(The last official ‘date’ as the last possible date for the ‘in its time’ redemption, was 1840, but we’ll leave that alone for this post.)

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Between 1748 and 1781, so many of our leading rabbis believed that the geula was imminent, and the Vilna Gaon and the Lithuanian rabbis were counted firmly amongst them.

In fact, pretty much the only leading rabbi at that time who was saying that geula was NOT going to happen imminently was the Baal Shem Tov. I know I quoted this in the previous post, but let’s bring his letter written to Rabbi Gershon in 1747 again here, to keep all the pieces together in one place. The BESHT wrote:

“I asked the Messiah when he would be coming. “This is how you will know,” he replied. “When your teachings become public and revealed to the world, and your wellsprings of my teachings, which you will have mastered, overflow to the outside, so that [others], too, will be able to perform mystical unifications and ascents of the soul like you. Then all the klipot will be eradicated and a time of [Divine] desire and salvation will come.”

The Baal Shem Tov continues:

“[This reply] left me puzzled and severely troubled. Such a long time! When can it possibly come to pass?”

The Baal Shem Tov was explaining to Reb Gershon that the Moshiach is going to come, and the end of days is going to happen, only when the Jews start to really connect to God, and experience ‘ascents of the soul’, and to really learn and understand Torah on the deep level of chassidut.

Moshiach wasn’t just going to show up, regardless of the spiritual state of the Jews, and regardless of all their bad middot and lack of emuna. He was only going to come when the Jews got real, learned some humility, and started talking to God sincerely every single day, and including Him in every aspect of their life.

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So now, the question is:

Why did the mitnagdim fall out so badly with the chassidim, if everyone at that time was eagerly anticipating Moshiach and geula, and the Lithuanian rabbis were pressing for aliya and for ‘the end’ to come just as much as the chassidim?

The answer lies in the different approaches the Vilna Gaon and the chassidim were trying to take, to bring the geula.

We can set it out like this:

1747 – The Baal Shem Tov writes a letter explaining that Moshiach is only going to come when the Jews make teshuva, and approach their yiddishkeit in a more ‘chassidic’ way.

The BESHT’s leading student, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye, sat on that letter for over 30 years, but then published it in 1780, when it started to become obvious that Moshiach was not coming imminently, after all.

In the meantime, the Vilna Gaon had spent years trying to resolve all the kooshiot, or difficulties in the Torah, using just his superb logical abilities and ‘cleverness’. According to documents found by researcher Arie Morgenstern which quotes the Vilna Gaon’s students and sons, as brought in his book The Gaon of Vilna and his Messianic Vision, the Vilna Gaon believed he could bring the Moshiach:

“[B]y force of his supreme halachic authority. [T]he Gaon proposed to move to Eretz Yisrael and write the final halacha there, in order to hasten the redemption. As Joseph Karo[1] had done, so would the Gaon of Vilna do. He wished to be the final arbiter, not in order to write the halacha for its own sake, but rather to hasten the redemption and conclude the ‘sorting’ (birur) process that would usher in the Messiah.”

Here’s what the Vilna Gaon himself wrote, about his aspirations[2]:

“Every unresolved issue is a klipah, and emanates from the Erev Rav that intermingled with the Israelites…This is how unresolved issues insinuated themselves into the halacha. The answer to the unresolved issues is the repair of the klipah.

Elsewhere, he wrote[3]:

“At the end of the galut, in the footsteps of the Moshiach, the tree of life, the Law of Moses will be revealed.”

One of the Vilna Gaon’s senior students, Rabbi Israel of Shklov, explained[4] that his mentor had managed to resolve all the issues in the whole Torah (!) except for in two passages in the Zohar. The Rabbi of Shklov says:

“Had the Gaon resolved these issues, he would have brought the birur (‘sorting process’) to its end, and the path to the Messiah’s arrival would have been readied for use.”

As it was – he didn’t, and it wasn’t.

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The Vilna Gaon set out for Israel in 1778.

But first travelled to Amsterdam, where he hoped to track down copies of the books and manuscripts that would help him resolve his two last remaining ‘issues’, before he made aliya, wrote a new ‘perfect’ Shulchan Aruch in Israel, and ushered in the redemption.

But God didn’t let him do that, his mission to Amsterdam was a failure, and the Gaon returned home to Vilna, without attempting the trip to Israel.

Once home, he decided to take a different tack, and for the first time in his scholarly career, he decided to teach an elite group of students his approach to learning Torah, with a particular emphasis on these students moving to Israel, and helping to lay the practical foundations for the Jews to return to their land.

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In the meantime, nearly all the Chassidic rebbes dealt with the ‘moshiach let-down’ of 1781 by starting to put the emphasis on personal redemption, as opposed to national redemption, and taking the emphasis off of moving to Israel.

Everyone, that is, except Rabbenu and Breslov chassidut.

Rebbe Nachman continued to stress the importance of living in Eretz Yisrael, as well as the importance of working on the ‘inner dimension’ and developing the good middot that would enable each person to achieve their ‘personal redemption’, too.

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1781 approaches, the make-or-break date for ‘geula in its time’, and the Vilna Gaon realizes that his approach of trying to ‘perfect’ Torah, and engage in ‘perfect’ mitzvah observance is out of reach, and that he can’t bring Moshiach this way. Instead, he looks to kick-start redemption by placing ‘boots on the ground’ in Eretz Yisrael, and directs a group of his elite students to make aliya after his death.

Meanwhile, after 1781, the different Chassidic leaders put much more focus on the idea that redemption is internal, not necessarily land-based.

Israel is out of reach, so turn inwards and work on your personal and communal redemption instead, wherever you live!

Only Breslov chassidut actually combined these two, very different approaches, continuing to stress the practical aspects of aliya to the real Eretz Yisrael, together with emphasizing the inner work and importance of being connected to the True Tzaddik and praying for redemption.

But there was so much opposition to Rebbe Nachman, and then to Breslov, that this message was muted back then, and really has only begun to flourish in our days.

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So now, what happened with the excommunication of the chassidim by the Lithuanian rabbis, headed by the Vilna Gaon?

As usual, it’s a sordid tale of petty politics and ego-mania.

In the years leading up to the first ‘excommunication’ of the chassidim, in 1772, The Vilna ‘kahal’, or community leaders had been locked in a vicious struggle with the town’s chief rabbi and rabbinical judge, a fellow by the name of Shmuel ben Avigdor.

Shmuel ben Avigdor had been ‘bought’ his position – as was the custom of the time then, and in many ways still is today – by his wealthy father-in-law. The kahal leaders felt that Shmuel ben Avigdor was throwing his weight around, was out of his depth when it came to making halachically-binding decisions, and – most crucially of all – was impinging on their income by trying to butt into communal affairs that they felt he should play no part in.

So, the kahal went to war against their very wealthy, very connected chief rabbi, to try to get him ousted. His father-in-law had bought him the rabbinate ‘for life’, so the kahal leaders could only get him out of the way if they could prove his was guilty of gross, ‘anti-Torah’ misconduct. So that’s what they set about trying to show.

According to Arie Morgenstern[5]:

“The methods used were illegitimate:…false testimonies, silencing of witnesses, preventing the presentation of exculpatory evidence about the defendants under threat of excommunication, forbidding the lodging of complaints with the rabbinical court by the same means, and even forbidding the rabbinical judges to listen to cries of protest against the abuse being committed.”

Plus ca change.

And having waged war against their town rabbi by dirty means, the kahal then just applied their ‘abilities’ against the chassidim in their midst, too.

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Why did the Vilna kahal turn against the chassidim?

Some researchers claim they were egged on by the Vilna Gaon (more on that in a moment), while others claim that the kahal leadership were worried that people flocking to chassidut would diminish their clout in the Jewish community, and their own legal status vis-à-vis their non-Jewish rulers. (Which in turn, would diminish their ability to levy taxes on the Jewish community….)

In the meantime, the horrible, dirty machloket between the Vilna kahal leaders and their chief rabbi Shmuel ben Avigdor raged almost without let up for approximately 30 years (!) It was so poisonous, Vilna’s Jewish residents were frequently arguing on street corners, and fights would regularly break out in public, even between the women.

That only stopped when the community was hit by a terrible tragedy.

In 1771, an outbreak of plague killed hundreds of small children in Vilna’s Jewish community. It was clear to the kahal leaders that this was some ‘punishment from Heaven’, but rather than accept that their own machloket against the Chief Rabbi could be the cause, they searched around for a scapegoat – and found one, in the nascent movement of chassidim.

According to the mitnaged Maggid of Makow, the reclusive Vilna Gaon was totally unaware of any problem with the chassidim, until the kahal leaders – who were giving the Vilna Gaon a salary of 1400 guilders a year and a rent-free home, even though the Vilna Gaon fulfilled no public duties as rabbi – brought a bunch of false witnesses to slander the chassidim as a ‘deviant cult’.

Rabbi David the Maggid writes:

“Due to his devotion to the Torah and his perseverance, the holy Pious One [the Vilna Gaon] was oblivious to all these matters, until the righteous and honest learners cried out… Then he became their enemy, fighting them and pronouncing the great excommunication of all their rabbis and students… The excommunication went into effect in 1772, after Pesach.”

But none of the other four major Jewish communities in Lithuania, including Horodno, Brisk, Slutsk and Pinsk, joined in with the excommunication of 1772, because they understood that the Vilna kahal was trying to deflect the spiritual heat off its own bad behavior, by using the chassidim as scapegoats. Very quickly, the excommunication died away, and the Lithuanian communities happily sent money to support the Chassidic aliya that began in 1777 – ahead of the ‘end of times’ date of 1781.

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THE SECOND EXCOMMUNICATION

But then, there was a second excommunication of the chassidim that happened in 1781 – and that one stuck, and widened out into a veritable war against chassidut.

What triggered this second attack against chassidut? A few different things:

  • More and more people were flocking to the ranks of chassidut.
  • Chassidut became increasingly organized as a communal force within the Jewish community, and so appeared to be more of a threat to the existing leaders’ status, influence, and ability to use their communal position to make money.
  • The Baal Shem Tov’s students started to print and disseminate some of their ideas and teachings – notably Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye, who published Toledot Yaakov Yosef in 1780.
  • May 1781 came and went without Moshiach showing up, and a wave of frustration overtook the Jewish community and led to a whole bunch of internecine fighting.

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The chassidim were not totally blameless, for the war erupting.

By this point, many of them were openly mocking the Lithuanian rabbis for being out of touch with their communities and overly hung-up on pietism and asceticism, instead of serving God joyfully, with their hearts. There were also some Chassidic leaders who were publically complaining about the behavior of other Chassidic leaders, and that might also have fueled external criticism of the movement.

Meanwhile, the mitnagdim communities and their rabbis were having to deal with all these ‘miracle stories’ that started circulating about the Baal Shem Tov – including his infamous ‘conversation’ with Moshiach, in 1747 – after Rabbi Yaakov Yosef’s books came out. To put it bluntly, it was hard for the Lithuanian rabbis to compete, when there was a Tzaddik of the caliber of the Baal Shem Tov wooing their congregants away with his supernatural abilities and awesome, soul-inspiring advice.

In other words: they got jealous.

Plus ca change

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There’s one last thing I want to add here, because clearly what I’m describing above has continued to play itself out in our day and time, too.

At its highest level, there was a dispute for the sake of heaven going on, between the Vilna Gaon and the Baal Shem Tov, about the way to bring Moshiach and geula.

The BESHT said:

Geula will only come when all the Jews make teshuva, and start to serve God sincerely, and not just to pay ‘lip service’ to the external commandments and mitzvoth. And God will wait as long as it takes, for that to happen.

The Vilna Gaon said:

Geula will come ‘in its time’, once we fix the halacha perfectly. And whoever is not on that level of perfection at that time, won’t make it through to the world-to-come.

(I should mention here, that the Vilna Gaon was kind of obsessed with the Erev Rav, and that he and his students both talked and wrote about them a great deal.)

This mirrored the debate that took place in Sanhedrin 97b, between Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, and Rabbi Yehoshua, that you can read about HERE.

And we are still having that debate today in the Jewish world.

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On the one hand, there are the people saying geula is ready to come NOW!!! Today!!! And that the world is full of evil erev rav types that just can’t change, and won’t make it through, and that millions of people are going to die before Moshiach is revealed, because they just aren’t on the level to make it.

This is the ‘Rabbi Yehoshua’ approach.

On the other hand, we can see with our own eyes that each of these ‘end times’ keeps coming and going; and that the predicted wars keep fading away. And, that the whole ‘erev rav’ approach is basically unworkable in practice (as I cover in my book), and that with daily hitbodedut, regular visits to Uman, and a strong connection to our True Tzaddikim, people can and do transform into better Jews in some fantastic ways.

This is the ‘Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol’ approach.

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The note from Rav Kook, describing Rabbi Berland as a 'spark' of Eliezer HaGadolA few years’ ago, Rabbi Dov Kook of Tiveria famously wrote a note where he stated that Rabbi Eliezer Berland is a spark, or reincarnation, of that selfsame Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol.

God is waiting for us all to open our eyes, and see what’s right in front of them.

After 200 years of trying the ‘Rabbi Yehoshua’ approach – which has clearly not worked to bring Moshiach and redemption – God is waiting for more of us to adopt the ‘Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol’ approach of sincere teshuva, talking to God, and connecting to our True Tzaddikim, instead.

And when we get that message, geula will finally happen.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] The author of the Shulchan Aruch.

[2] Vilna Gaon’s commentary on Ra’aya Mehemana, Konigsberg, 1858, 28a.

[3] Yahel Or, Commentaries on the Zohar, Parshat Mishpatim 114b (Vilna, 1882).

[4] In his preface to the book: Pe’at Ha’Shulchan.

[5] Page 237, The Gaon of Vilna and his Messianic Vision

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