יום חמישי ד' בתשרי תשפ"ג 29/09/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Mourning Day of Rabbi Chaim Abulafia

31/03/2009 10:00

 Rabbi Chaim Abulafia was born in the year 5420 (1660 A.C.) in the city of Hebron to his father Rabbi Moshe. Rabbi Chaim was named after his grandfather Rabbi Chaim the first who was the founder of the Abulafia family’s branch in Eretz-Yisroel. In his young years he moved to Jerusalem where he learned Torah under the auspices of the Rabbi Moshe Galanti who headed the “Beis-Yaakov Viga” Yeshiva. During the time he was residing in Jerusalem he studied with the renowned Torah giants Rabbi Chizkiyahu De-Silwa and Rabbi Yitzchok of Izmir. When he matured, he was requested by the people of Hebron to serve as Shadar (acronym for messenger of the Rabbis) on behalf of the Hebron community. The community was over burdened with heavy taxes and Rabbi Chaim as the Shadar would travel through the Diaspora soliciting funds for them.

 Rabbi Chaim accepted the position and in the year 5459 (1699 A.C.) he set out for Europe. In the beginning of his long journey he settled in Greece and thirteen years thereafter he traveled to Izmir, Turkey. Prominent Rabbis were living in Izmir at the time and amongst them was Rabbi Yisroel Benevashti. Upon hearing about the expected arrival of the young scholar in the gates of their city, they decided to investigate Rabbi Chaim’s character. After speaking to him at length in Torah and realizing this young man’s command of Torah and its laws, he was ordained as Rabbi of Izmir and served in that position for six years. He then returned to Eretz-Yisroel where he was requested by the community of Safed to carry on his position of Rabbi in their city. He agreed and went on to settle in Safed as the local chief Rabbi. 

 During his years in Safed he would visit Tiberius on random occasions, which was mostly deserted and desolate at the time spare some Arab shephards. On one of his visits he went to prostrate himself over the grave of Rabbi Meir the Miracle Maker. Rabbi Chaim was engrossed in his prayers whilst his servant went to find some food for his master. The servant was at distance when suddenly he was encountered by the son of the Galilee governor Dahir Al Omar with a group of men. They beat up the servant until he was bleeding. He returned to Rabbi Chaim and together they came forth to the governor and related the incident with his son. Out of fury and embarrassment the governor swore that he would lash his son’s back with one hundred sticks. After realizing the severity of the punishment he ordered for his son he regretted his hasty reaction. As governor he was unable to retract from any order that was uttered out of his mouth, he was upset about the pain his son would suffer. Rabbi Chaim witnessing the governor’s grief told him that perhaps he could pile up a stack of one hundred pieces of wood and place it on his son’s back and consider that as an execution of the punishment. The governor was joyous and appreciative for Rabbi Chaim’s solution and held him at great esteem for his wisdom. Dahir was grateful as well and expressed his gratitude. Remembering the incident, when he was himself succeeded his father in position of governor twenty three years later, he called upon Rabbi Chaim to serve as Rabbi of Tiberius and renew the Jewish settlement there.

 In the year 5485 (1725 A.C.) the Rabbi of Izmir, Rabbi Yisroel Benevashti passed away. Remembering Rabbi Chaim’s greatness, the Izmir Jewish community turned to Safed and pleaded before Rabbi Chaim to move back to Izmir. Rabbi Chaim had for long been carrying a secret dream he was waiting to be materialized; the dream to have the peace and quiet to be able to write up all his original Torah thoughts. Moving to Izmir would give him this opportunity. He moved back to Izmir and true to his plan he printed his books “Etz Chaim”, “Yosef Lekach” and many more. During his service in Izmir his named spread-out throughout the Turkish kingdom as a miracle maker and many Jews were salved by his blessings.

 It was in the year 5500 (1740 A.C.) that Rabbi Chaim had Elijah revealed himself in a dream to him. He ordered him to go up to Eretz-Yisroel. It was exactly at that time that that the Galilee governor Dahir al Omar, his old acquaintance sent Rabbi Chaim an invitation to return to Eretz-Yisroel and revive the Jewish community of Tiberius and renew its settlement. Rabbi Chaim was delighted to consent especially since his own grandfather, the late Rabbi Chaim, was Rabbi of Tiberius before its destruction and he began making travel arrangements.

 Rabbi Avraham Amzug in his book “Avraham Ba-kol” testifies that the night before his departure Elijah revealed himself to the city’s Rabbis and commanded that they do not make any attempt to hold Rabbi Chaim back from going up to Eretz-Yisroel. It was truly a difficult undertaking for them to withhold themselves from trying to dissuade Rabbi Chaim from his plans. He was very dear to the community and his absence would be greatly noticed. With hard feelings on both sides Rabbi Chaim left the Izmir community joined by his son-in-law Rabbi Yaakov Beyrav and a convoy of people who followed him to Tiberius.

 Upon arriving to Tiberius Rabbi Chaim was greeted by the governor Dahir al Omar with great honor. He clothed him with majestic clothing and loyally fulfilled all his requests. For two years he was occupied with the building of the city. A beautiful synagogue was built on the location of where according to tradition the tribunal of the seventy scholars had sat. It was named the “Etz Chaim” synagogue in name of Rabbi Chaim’s book but informally the people of Tiberius called it “The Great Synagogue of Tiberius”. Markets and workshops were set up to serve as a source of livelihood for the people. This was all done with the encouragement and support of the governor. The reason behind the governor’s behavior is that he had a dream which repeated itself for three consecutive days. In his dream he was ordered to rebuild the city of Tiberius with Jews. The governor turned to the Rabbis of Safed and consulted with them as to what measures to take in order to follow the order from the dream. They advised him to refer the problem to the great Rabbis of Turkey and that resulted with an invitation to Rabbi Chaim to assume the position of Rabbi of Tiberius. Rabbi Yaacov Beyrav attested to the fact that at those days “All the people of Tiberius are vivacious, invigorated and joyous since the land is peaceful and unthreatening”.

The Sultan of Turkey feared that Dahir al Omar’s and his government would rebel against him and start a coup to overturn the Sultan’s power. To prevent such an occurrence he ordered Suleiman, the Pasha of Damascus to conquer the Galilee and kill Dahir al Omar. The local Jewish community of Damascus headed by Rabbi Chaim Parchi got inside information about the plan and immediately sent a message to Rabbi Chaim Abulafia and warned him about the upcoming war and begged him to have all the Jews evacuated from Tiberius before it commences. Rabbi Chaim turned directly to the governor Dahir and related over the content of the letter he received. Dahir told Rabbi Chaim that he had heard about the Sultan’s plan and its executor Suleiman the Pasha of Damascus but he was under the impression that it was a false rumor. The Galilee is under the jurisdiction of the Pasha of Sidon and not under the jurisdiction of the Pasha of Damascus and therefore there is no base for belief that Suleiman of Damascus should intervene with the politics of a different region, especially since he doesn’t collect taxes from them. Another reason the governor gave to ignore the warning was his assumption that if it were true, it would be the Jews of Turkey sending a warning letter and not the Jews of Damascus.

 Dahir al Omar’s predictions were proven false when at the end of 5502 (middle of 1742 A.C.) Suleiman heading an army of men invaded Galilee and started a siege on Tiberius. He commanded that the citizens of Tiberius turn in Dahir al Omar who was hiding inside the city. When the Jews refused, Suleiman’s army began bombing the city. In spite of the dangerous situation, the Jews headed by Rabbi Chaim were persistent in their conviction to not turn in Dahir. Three months later Suleiman retreated and returned to Damascus for the celebration of the Muslim festivities. He returned the following summer with even a greater army and renewed the siege on Tiberius. In the midst of the siege Suleiman got sick with a deadly disease and died. After his death the army scattered and within eighty three days, on the seventh of Elul, 5503 the siege was lifted and the danger was gone. For years the Jews of Tiberius commemorated that day and celebrated it as a second Purim.

 On Purim of the year 5504 (1744 A.C.), Rabbi Chaim Abulafia called over his oldest son who was residing in Syria at the time. He ordered him to assume upon himself the position of Rabbi and leader of Tiberius after he passes away. Three weeks later on the Shabbos day, sixth of Nissan, Rabbi Chaim returned his holy soul to the heavens. He was buried in the ancient cemetery of Tiberius and it is inscribed on his tombstone “Here is buried the Torah ark, the great Rabbi and teacher Chaim Abulafia may his soul be bundled in the bundle of life. On the sixth of Nisan 5504. Deliver lamentations in place of gaiety, Consider this loss like a wife widowing her man. The foundation of the world has departed, the sanctum, the source of our vitality.”

 Rabbi Yitzchok Abulafia, his oldest son succeeded his father’s position as leader of the Tiberian community and later on Rabbi Chaim’s second son, Rabbi Yissochor Abulafia filled in the position.