The ‘Abraham Peretz’ / Jonathan Eybshutz connection

If you read part 1 of this series, then you’ll know that I kind of hit a dead end, trying to figure out who the Chief Rabbi of Vilna at the time of the Vilna Gaon really was.

His name was (apparently…) ‘Shmuel ben Avigdor’, and even though the whole kehilla in Vilna was at war with each other for 30 years because of him, and because of his father-in-law (R’ Yehudah ben Eliezer Safra veDayana) – who bought him the Chief Rabbinate as a lifetime position with a big bribe – you just can’t track these people down in the real world.

At least, that’s how it looked yesterday.

But then today, God is showing me that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and that when all the doors are locked tight, sometimes, you can still get in via a window.

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I was going back over a document of information I gathered together a few months ago, entitled ‘Loose Ends’.

It contains a whole bunch of stuff in there about Rivlins and Zeitlins and Brodas, amongst other things. As I read through, I came across this, excerpted from the Kotzk blog HERE, talking about the conversion of the Alter Rebbe’s son, Moshe Schneuri – with a weird connection to our very own Abraham Peretz.

(BTW, that blog post contains a ton of footnoted facts and a discussion of Moshe Schneuri’s conversion from both perspectives, within Chabad and external to Chabad. I highly recommend you take a look at it. Here, I’m just bringing a small snippet, to move our part of the story along:)

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Here is another account [of Moshe Shneuri’s conversion] from the maskil Moshe Berlin of Shklov:

The death of the first zaddik (Schneur Zalman)…sparked debate among the Hasidim regarding the choice of his successor…The eldest, Moshe, had a certain reputation as a scholar, but he was wedded to his desires, behaved immodestly, and did not observe Jewish law strictly. The youngest son, Avraham, although a simple, straight individual, was not a scholar…The middle son, Berke, was also no scholar, and he too was wedded to his desires. 

But being…a talented, and hardworking, preacher he knew how to draw attention and to attract the love of the communal elders by various means, such as flattery, distributing honors, and the like. In order to keep his older brother Moshe from blocking his aspiration to take his father’s place, Berke persecuted and humiliated him as much as he could, driving Moshe to the brink of despair. Consequently, and in order…to embarrass his brother Berke, Moshe converted to Christianity…And Moshe himself, whose conscience was not clear, went insane and died in St. Petersburg.[8]

Chabad historian Yosef Kaminetzky counters such accounts by writing:

During the same period, an embarrassing case of conversion occurred among the opponents of Hassidism: that of Avraham Peretz, the son-in-law of Yehoshua Zeitlin, who lived in the same city as Chabad founder Shneur Zalman. The Chabad leader himself prophesied that Peretz would leave the faith. The opponents of Hassidism had spread the story about Moshe’s supposed conversion to deflect attention from their own shame.

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Doesn’t this strike you as strange?

That apparently no less than the Alter Rebbe would ‘prophesy’ that Abraham Peretz was going to leave the faith, and that Abraham Peretz is being held up by Chabad historians as the real story of the conversion of Moshe Schneuri?

There’s been so many twists and turns in this tale, we still can’t really know how all this is connected. Yet. But, we can say this:

If Abraham Peretz = Moshe Schneuri, then that makes the father of Abraham Peretz the Alter Rebbe.

And as we already covered in a few posts already:

Joshua Zeitlin is listed as the father in law of ‘Reb Alexander Sender’ – apparently one of the Alter Rebbe’s favorite talmidim.

And ‘Alexander Sender’ is meant to be the father of Moshe of Shklov – who we already pinned down as being one and the same as Moshe Schneuri, the Alter Rebbe’s catholic Frankist son.

 That would make Joshua Zeitlin the Alter Rebbe’s father in law.

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I still don’t know which version – if either! – is correct, that Yehoshua Zeitlin is the Alter Rebbe’s father-in-law, or the father-in-law of the Alter Rebbe’s son, but let’s see if we can find some more information about ‘Abraham Peretz’, to try and clarify matters a little more.

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Back on the expanded description about Abraham Peretz under his geni profile HERE, we are told that his father is ‘Rabbi of Levertov, Israel Peretz’.

In the first post, we learned that Abraham’s uncle was none other than ‘Zvi Hirsch Berlin’ aka Hart Lyon, former Chief Rabbi of the UK – a grandchild of the Chacham Tzvi via his mother, Miriam.

So, I start looking through all of ‘Hart Lyon’s’ listed siblings, to see if any of them are either named ‘Israel’, or are married to an ‘Israel Peretz’.

Whaddya know? 

I can’t find a dickie bird – except for THIS weird and misleading profile for ‘the wife of Zvi Hirsh Margoliot, the ABD of Lublin‘, uploaded by none other than Keith Lawrence Hanit.

Whenever I hit dear Keith, I know I’m on the right path.

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Also, Abraham Peretz called his first (and apparently only Jewish son…) ‘Tzvi Hirsch’, and we know that these families usually called their children after their grandparents, which makes ‘Zvi Hirsch Margoliot’ a leading contender for Abraham Peretz’s father.

And lastly, Levertov / Lubartow is close to Lublin, so it wouldn’t stretch things too far to replace one with the other – especially at this far remove in history.

But why go to all this trouble, to hide this information?

What’s the big deal, who Abraham Peretz’s father really is?

Let’s see if we can find out.

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Zvi Hirsch Margoliot is listed as having three children:

  1. Joshua Heshel Margulis of Pietrokov
  2. Jacob Margulis
  3. Isaac Meshulam Zalman Margulis of Pietrokov-Lublin

One of these guys is a candidate for the real ‘Abraham Peretz’.

I start clicking through, and here’s what I learn:

The unnamed wife of Joshua Heshel Margulis is the sister of ‘Zlata Rivka Eybshutz’. 

Zlata is married to Aryeh Menachem Eybshutz – who is the son of Natan Nata Eybshutz.

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(I know all this is hard to follow, sorry. I’m setting all this down as a kind of public record, and hopefully at the end of this process, may it come soon, I’ll be able to link everything up and make it much easier and clearer to understand what is really going on. It’s a very painful and drawn-out birur, I appreciate that.)

Natan Nata Eybshutz is probably one and the same as the famous shtadlan and businessmen in the Russian empire who was a contemporary of Joshua Zeitlin and Abraham Peretz, Natan Nota Notkin.

I wrote a lot about Natan Nota Notkin HERE, and this is a relevant snippet:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here’s another link between ‘Natan Nata Notkin’ (Eybshutz) and the Vilna Gaon / Alter Rebbe:

According to the ‘official history’ of the Gaon’s family, screenshotted below, (which is full of fake names and falsified dates) the Gaon’s son or grandson (?), ‘Shlomo Zalman Rivlin’, marries ‘Natan Nota Notkin’ (Eybshutz’s) daughter, Frumka.

This is the same Natan Nota Notkin who is the shtadlan who gets the ‘Shneur Zalman [unknown surname] aka Alter Rebbe out of Russian prison, and even has him delivered to his own home, according to Chabad’s own sources.

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The dates and details on geni have all been deliberately muddled-up and obfuscated, so it’s hard to pin things down 100%.

Typically, the ‘Keith Lawrence Hanits’ on geni do an excellent job of attributing genealogies to the wrong siblings, and adding in fake generations by replicating names and creating ‘half siblings’ where none existed.

So, I take the ‘story’ being told there with a massive pinch of salt, until and unless I find other sources to corroborate what seems to be the ‘real story’.

According to the geni genealogy, Natan Nata (Notkin) Eybshutz is listed as the son of ‘Yehuda Leib Eybshutz’ – brother of Jonathan Eybshutz, the (not so secret) secret Sabbataean.

But I know from previous research that Jonathan Eybshutz himself had a son called ‘Natan Nata Eybshutz’ – who totally disappeared off the radar, like so very many of Jonathan Eybshutz’s children and grandchildren.

And so far, most of the descendants of Jonathan Eybshutz who I could actually track down in the real world,  like August Bondi, have been married into known Frankist families and / or deeply connected to the Freemasons.

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It seems to me, that ‘Yehuda Leib Eybshutz’ and ‘Yonatan Eybshutz’ may well be the same person (at least, on geni…)

I now have at least a day and a half of checking out this theory, to see what else it might turn up, so I think I will leave this post here, in the meantime.

Isn’t it amazing, though, how all roads in this troubling episode seem to lead back to Vilna, and the Vilna Gaon and the Alter Rebbe?

Isn’t it amazing, how the same names, the same people, keep coming up again and again and again, in some very unexpected ways?

They’ve done a fabulous job of covering things up, you have to hand it to them.

But ultimately, you can’t suppress the truth forever.

And it seems to me, we are fast approaching that time when it finally comes out.

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2 replies
  1. Ana
    Ana says:

    Truly head-spinning – thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    If all of Geni and everything is being intentionally obfuscated, does that mean that at some point, someone/s put in legitimate information about their families? I don’t know how much it actually matters, it’s just curious if there are people “out there” who are descendants of these people who are either helplessly seeing their family trees altered or perhaps more proactively being kept silent?

    Seemingly there are known, virtuous descendants of the Vilna Gaon and Alter Rebbe today, no?

    Reply
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      From what I can tell, the descendants of people who weren’t actively involved in all this are still collecting their information together based on who they believed their ancestors were.

      These people had multiple names, multiple identities.

      To take Abraham Peretz as one example, his Jewish descendants from his first marriage would be presumably told one story about him – maybe even using a name that is not ‘connected’ to the persona of Abraham Peretz – while his non-Jewish descendants – Russian Lutherans – would know him by his xtian name and actions.

      It’s only in the time of the internet that all this stuff is starting to come together. Up until now, most of this information would be hidden in the hands of a small number of academics – who probably also were working with a very small fragment of the overall picture – if it was ‘out there’ at all.

      If you search this blog for ‘Chaim Freedman’, you’ll find a quote from him where he’s expressing his frustration about how his genuine research into his ancestor, ‘the Vilna Gaon’ is being deliberately distorted on geni.

      And I’ve been in touch with other people related to some of the people being discussed here, who removed their family trees from geni, after being intimidated into doing so.

      Reply

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