Attempt to Renew Rabbinic Ordination in Safed

Arie Morgenstern

in Hastening Redemption

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305784
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784820 | DOI:
 Attempt to Renew Rabbinic Ordination in Safed

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A variety of practical obstacles prevented the Vilna Ga’on’s disciples from settling in Jerusalem as soon as they arrived in the Land of Israel in 1808-1812. Instead, they settled in the Galilean city of Safed, where they sought to hasten the redemption through mystical and spiritual practices, and through the purchase of land to be able to fulfill the commandments contingent on the Land of Israel. In 1813, the community was decimated by an epidemic, which some of the survivors, led by Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Shklov, interpreted as punishment for not having immediately endured the rigors of settling in Jerusalem; they accordingly established a colony there. That step was opposed by another group of survivors, led by Rabbi Israel of Shklov. He regarded settlement of Jerusalem as premature, adhering to a doctrine that the redemption would begin with the Sanhedrin’s restoration in the Galilee, where it had last functioned before being disbanded. Restoration of the Sanhedrin required the renewal of classical ordination, which had lapsed in late antiquity or early medieval times and could be renewed only by an ordained sage. To that end, intensive efforts were launched to locate the lost Ten Tribes of Israel, among whom ordination had presumably not lapsed. Among those efforts was the ultimately ill-fated venture of Barukh ben Samuel of Pinsk, dispatched by Israel of Shklov in 1830.

Keywords: Safed; Sanhedrin; ordination; Menahem Mendel of Shklov; Israel of Shklov; redemption; Galilee; Ten Tribes; Barukh ben Samuel

Chapter.  8401 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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