|The Vilna Gaon - Father of Zionism [Tzion'it Gra'it]|
The Vilna Gaon created/fathered Zionism in the 18th Century  calling it 'Tzion'it Gra'it'. If you thought Zionism was created by the seculars and Hertzl - think again, as it all began with the GR"A and his students. Authentic Zionism is not only kosher and created from Daas Torah, but it will be the path of Moshiach ben Yosef 'that lives'. The GR"A [and his students] have given us a heritage of all that happened in the 100 years after the prophetic time of '1740' detailed in the diaries of Midrash Shlomo, the companion work to the celebrated 'Kol HaTor'.
No longer does Zionism need to be thought of in secular kelim, for the Torah will never be separated from Zion. This is a sample chapter from my new translation of 'Midrash Shlomo' that serves to reintroduce Tzion'it Gra'it to the many who have not yet had the experience to see for themselves what Zionism is and where it comes from and what is to be expected in its fulfilment. We are in the times...and not because I said so, but because the Vilna Gaon tells us it is so, as he kicked things off in 1740 in a way that can't be stopped.
The task upon Kl'al Yisrael today is to emulate the ways of the Messiah's namesake 'Yosef' which as the GR'A explains is to be successful. Geulah will be paved by a path of success, and as promised, MBY will live, ushering in a complete redemption. On a personal note, let it be stated [and obvious] that pandering to Christians, Muslims, etc. and their affiliates is not in any way considered 'success'. But the righteous non-Jew, who follows the Torah of Moses that calls him a 'Ger in your Gates', is fundamental to the success of Geulah. The poskim call this a 'chiddush gadol' to quote the Lubavitcher Rebbe in specific. The same Lubavitcher Rebbe who speaks about Ger Toshav in 'Likutei Sichos vol. 31 Parashas Mishpatim' and as brought in 'Shaarei Halacha and Minhag'.
The Torah contains many angles that have not been brought out into English. Now, finally, the vision of the GR"A's Zionism may come to light, and the time couldn't be any more opportune.
Learn well of the Zionism of the GR”A – as it was announced and spread by the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Tzvi Rivlin of Blessed Memory author of ‘Darshan HaGeulah’ – we are to learn well the history and the ideology of the GR”A and his students, the founders of The Settlement; to learn well the Messianic Torah of The Start based on the views of our rabbi the GR”A, and the self-sacrifice of his students in their efforts of the in-gathering of the exiles and the establishment of The Settlement in our Holy Land.
Learn well all of this for the sake of sanctifying the Name of God, for the sake of strengthening and expanding The Settlement; for the sake of the honor of our Holy Torah, and for the sake of strengthening the Messianic Faith in the heart of every House of Israel. Learn well each great and lofty Parasha of this type, for the sake of bringing close the Complete Redemption.
GR”A Zionism was the foundation of all foundations of every Holy Establishment and its fulfillment ; its opening and its success from all of these aspects, as was said through the great voice ‘Darshan HaGeulah’ Rabbi Yitzchak Tzvi of Blessed Memory.
It is a Commandment upon us proclaim, said our rabbis, of Going out of Egypt. It was already explained by the earlier ones that every ‘going out exile is called a going out of Egypt’ and it is a Commandment from the Torah to remember leaving, as it is written, ‘Remember the days of yore; understand the years of generation after generation’. That is to say that it is comes to know what happened and it is on you to meditate deep meditations on the conditions of the earliest generations, and if you do not meditate on them, then ask your father and he will tell you, or your elder and he will say it over to you.
According to the Midrash: ‘The main thing/principle of the offspring/legacy of the righteous is good deeds. In order to draw down for us their merit and their Shefa from the Upper World for the sake of strengthening their deeds that they performed in the lower world.
To speak of the GR”A and gathering the exiles and on the Messianic Torah of the Start from the view of the GR”A, and so too of the self-sacrifice of his students who established The Settlement, explained for a considerable length of time, also over many days and months so as to not stop comprehension of this great and lofty Parsha.
A comprehensive synopsis in general categories of the offspring of this movement are brought in a special essay under the name ‘Hartzet Chazon Zion’ in this sefer above. However, this synopsis-essay is also long, and that this reading [which is a collection of important Ikkarim…] is an investigation that can take several hours, and since that a large gathering of the masses is not a place for lengthy words, thus in order to give all of this over, the entire concept from this vast parsha of GR”A Zionism, [it] mentions only a gist of the chapter headings of the fundamental points of this complex thing with concise vigor.
This digest is divided here into divisions:
A) Messianic Meaning
B) Aliyah Movement
C) Actions of Settlement
A) Messianic Meaning: The fundamental points of the first portion of ‘Messianic Meaning’ are the following:
1) Bringing the Redemption close through Gathering the exiles and building Zion and Jerusalem.
2) Gathering the exiles will bring the time period called ‘Pekida’ with an ‘Awakening from Below’ just like it was with Cyrus and in the days of Second Temple.
3) Every effort of gathering the exiles and building the Settlement of The Land of Israel will be helped with high and mighty power from Heaven assigned to the First Messiah, Messiah son of Joseph.
4) Our Rabbi the GR”A himself saw with his Divine Inspiration through ‘Holy Hints’ that he merited this sent lofty mission from Heaven categorically as Messiah son of Joseph. Many of our Rabbi the GR”A’s expert students wrote about the greatness of quality, of that which was his Divine Inspiration, and on his Higher Knowledge with wondrous actions, and on his knowledge to involve himself with Secret Names [of God]. Through Revelation of Jacob our Father and Elijah the Prophet of which, were revealed to him in days of stress. With all of these revelations that he saw with his Divine Inspiration was all part of his great mission to gather in the exiles.
5) Our Rabbi the GR”A fastened his way to journey to The Land of Israel twice, and from Heaven he was held back because he was a spark of Moshe Rabbeinu and was not given permission to enter into The Land of Israel. Our Rabbi the GR”A gave over this holy mission to his students that they should fulfill his request and this Commandment with all of their rigor, as it will be brought through the continuation of these words.
6) Our Rabbi the GR”A in his compilations of The Torah of Kabbalah increased his speaking about the ways of Messianism concerning the Start of Redemption through different hints, and only concerning the Final End did he write that he adjured in the Name of The God of Israel that this should not be revealed.
7) Our Rabbi the GR”A saw his mission of gathering the exiles through many wondrous hints; the first hint he saw was in the verse ‘A perfect and just weight’ – that in it he saw his name ‘Even Shleimah’ [‘a perfect and just weight’ (hinted at) ‘Elijah son of Shlomo’ the name ‘Elijah’ begins with an ‘alef’ and the words ‘son of’ is ‘ben’ in Hebrew, which is an acronym of ‘Eve”n’, and ‘Shlomo’ – ‘Solomon’ is the same spelling as ‘Shleimah’ – ‘complete’] …and in the second verse it speaks about wiping out Amalek and immediately after this it says ‘And you will come to The Land’. The author of ‘Kol HaTor’ a student of the GR”A, in the 3rd Chapter counted even more hints of the GR”A in this complex thing and said to the GR”A that there were 52 hints in Tanach, the same number as ‘Elijah’ – that in them he saw his great mission to gather the exiles and the Commandment of Settling The Land of Israel.
8) Our Rabbi the GR”A led from his name to reveal hints of The Torah concerning The Footsteps of The Messiah; thus our Rabbi the GR”A knew where every Man of Israel’s Name and Mission is hinted at in The Torah, and many from among his students revealed hints like these concerning their missions in gathering the exiles and Settling The Land of Israel.
9) The author of ‘Kol HaTor’ counted 156 Aspects and nick names of The First Messiah, the Messiah son of Joseph, that on his hand is the gathering of the exiles and the redemption from national subjugation and a victory for Israel in the war of Gog and Magog. And through them there is to learn and to fully comprehend all of the ways of the Start of the Redemption and the ways of the Holy Efforts of Gathering the Exiles and Building The Settlement of The Land of Israel, and the lofty virtues and the expansion of The Settlement until the coming the Redeemer, The Messiah son of David may he come quickly and in our days. Further on it is explained that the first purpose of the GR”A and his students who founded The Settlement through their efforts of Gathering the Exiles – that these were the principle things: To accelerate the ‘Revealed End’ to bring close The End Redemption according to Chazal (Sanhedrin 98a and Megillah 17a), build Jerusalem and the Commandment to expand according to that which is written ‘I will expand the place of your tent’, to setup a central place of Torah in Jerusalem and a place to learn the 7 Wisdoms as Commanded by the GR”A in the name of grasping the Wisdom of Torah and for the sake of Sanctifying The Name of God in the eyes of the nations.
B) The Aliyah Movement: The arrival of the students of the GR”A to The Land of Israel which first came into action in the year 5569. However the movement to prepare this arrival came out and lasted many years before this. Further in the life of the GR”A in the year 5541 the Gaon sent Rabbi Azriel from Shklov, the Elder of the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael, through the sages of Shklov to The Land of Israel in the name of preparing The Land for an Aliyah of the multitudes, however due to many reasons he was held back from this journey. In the year 5561, three years after the passing of the GR”A, the movement was revitalized with a great awakening to fulfill the Commandment of the GR”A to Settle Zion. In the month of Sivan 5566 a major conference called ‘Yevaneh Dreisen’ was held in the city of Shklov in the name of accomplishing this great purpose. The conference was held in a great hall in the Yeshiva of Shklov. In the conference, the sages of Shklov and the multitudes of other cities in Russia joined; Rabbis – the heads of Kollel’s, and leaders and known noblemen, and an empty chair stood at the front as a remembrance of the GR”A. Invited to the conference were the Gaonim Rabbi Benyamin from Shklov, that through him and the sages, the city of Shklov was built, Rabbi Yehoshua Tzeitlin, and Rabbi Hillel the son of Rabbi Benyamin. The conference lasted many days and held in a grand style, amidst enormous enthusiasm for this lofty purpose. There was a special assembly established by the name ‘Chazon Tzion’ to help the Aliyah and to strengthen The Settlement in The Holy Land. They made strong efforts to prepare for the travel of the first convoys, and on the 24th of Cheshvan of the year 5569 the first convoy went out from Shklov to The Land of Israel. The journey by sea and land took ten months, ‘three hundred days and storms of trouble’. About two months after the first convoy went out, a second convoy went out. The first convoy reached the city of Tzfat on the 8th day of Elul of the year 5569, and the second convoy in the month of Tishrei 5570. Fourteen students of the GR”A came in these convoys, along with ten families, the majority of which were from the group of Peirushim [non-Chassidim] along with individuals from the Chassidim; the majority of these Settlers were of middle age, and a portion of them were juniors to the days that they came with their families, women and children. Among these Settlers were prominent wealthy people. Peculiar details through suffering and hardships and through the heroism of the spirit of these first Settlers on their route from Russia to The Land of Israel and in the Establishment of the first Settling in The Land of Israel, as brought in the work ‘Chazon Zion’ through the legacy of the Aliyah of the students of the GR”A.
C) Settlement Undertaking: By way of the first establishment of Settlement there fell into place opinionated matters among the students of the GR”A; a portion from them and first and foremost the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael from Shklov taught with absolute authority to begin the establishment of the Settlement in the Galilee, and they exerted with much self-sacrifice to open the Settlement in Tzfat and in Tiveria, and a portion of them, headed by the Gaonim Rabbi Hillel from Shklov and Rabbi Sadiah explained with full authority to begin the establishment to Settle in Jerusalem. The position of the Gaon Rabbi Menachem Mendyl from Shklov who was an expounder of Torah in this complex thing.
In the month of Elul in the year 5571 Rabbi Hillel went to Jerusalem and after him, in the month of Cheshvan in the year 5572, they went to Jerusalem and settled in it, also Rabbi Saadiah and Rabbi Menachem Mendyl from Shklov and his son Rabbi Natan Netta and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Shapira and Rabbi Yitzchak Baruch Mekovna and more.
Immediately upon coming to Jerusalem a great stir fell to concentrate on the main things concerning the efforts of Settling in Jerusalem, and began to inspire great propaganda from our brothers that were in the Diaspora – to ascend to Zion and to settle it.
And The Settlement in Jerusalem began to grow in large measures, additional convoys began to come from Russia and this influx continued for many years until it reached the level of a hurried Aliyah.
The first actions of the students of the GR”A were in Jerusalem; established a central institution to strengthen The Settlement and to expand it under the name ‘General Assembly of the Kollel of the Peirushim’ and ‘Aderet Eliyahu’. After many years, from the year 5581 and onward, this institution expanded under the name ‘General Assembly of the Kollel of the Peirushim and Chasidim’.
This institution was the first foundation of the General Assembly of The Gathering of Israel [Rebbe Meir Baal HaNes], that from the beginning of the first foundation in the year 5572 and onward, it was practically the primary and central institution of The Settlement from all aspects. From the start of the foundation, the settlement of the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem came through the students of the GR”A, and afterward a partnership included the Chasidim, and in good measure there was also a partnership with the heads of the Sefardic camp, who had already made vigorous steps and bold plans to strengthen The Settlement and to expand it.
‘The Era of Troubles”
Shocking deeds are told of this era. Thirty years from the year 5570 until the year 5600were known as ‘The era of the students of the GR”A’ and were equally remembered as the ‘Era of Troubles’.
Here in this parsha we will mention in a short synopsis, ‘from among the troublesome period, loomed hardships and horrors:
…epidemics repeatedly occurred from time to time, amidst breaks of several years, such that many sicknesses fell in the heart of civilization without skipping even one home at the heart of the Jewish camp and without being able to escape or flee from them. There were special epidemics of the land, lack of water, and sick places. Arabs approached the Jews in Jerusalem. There were frequent government taxes – constant and sudden, as a sign of their lives by the government officials, which would also burden the heads of the Kollel like a forced pledge.
Persecution, scorn, and beatings of the Jews, particularly the Ashkenazim in the entire Land, in matters taken up by the Arabs, like contact ways and transport. There was plunder in their paths, robbery in their homes; these things happened every day, and so too insults like being under the duress of Sodomite behavior.
And it is known that the custom of the Arabs was sure to trap Jews passing their way and to load something heavy with him, and they would roar after them to their houses to spy to cause baseless misery. All of these horrible things happened to the Jews, through robbery and murder of hundreds of Jews, they raped women on Torah Scrolls in Jerusalem, Hebron, Tzfat, and in Tiveria and this happened many times in ‘The Era of Troubles’.
Added to this, were the troubles that came because of changing the government in The Land; There was a rebellion by the King of Egypt against the Ruler of Turkey in the year 5592, conquering The Land of Israel and Syria through his general ‘Ivrim Pashah’ and the Ruler of Turkey returned in the year 5600, that between conquests the Jews suffered from the retribution of captivity, and the heavy payback came with the blast in the Galilee that brought down thousands of sick Jews and caused additional menacing distress also onto the Jews of Jerusalem.
In spite of all of this, in the midst of this troubling storm, and grave dangers – the heads of the divisions and all of the men of Jerusalem did not stop for even a brief time in their efforts of strengthening the expansion of The Settlement from every aspect.
The heart’s desire and foremost purpose of the students of the GR”A and their Nilviim, who are the Peirushim and the Chasidim according to all that has been journaled – these are the principle things: Gathering the Exiles, Building Jerusalem, and Expanding The Settlement in The Land in general, according to the view of the GR”A, in order to fulfill the Commandment of ‘expansion’ according to the verse, ‘I will expand the place of your tent’ and ‘hasten the revealed end’ which is to say through planting and building according to the view of the Rabbis, in the name of bringing close the redemption.
This is the rule of every effort and plan of the students of the GR”A and of the students of the students and of all of the heads of the division in Jerusalem concerning the labors of The Settlement; they strengthened it and expanded it from all of the aspects spanning 100 years from the day that they established The Ashkenazi Settlement in Jerusalem. They founded and established it only through ‘Starting Messianic Torah’ through the view of our rabbi the GR”A.
On the foundation of this tradition, they relied on and accepted with deep faith by every division and by every resident of The Land of Israel, even the commoners of the nation…in those days…these three principles/things:
A) Before the coming of the Messiah there will be a ‘Start of the Redemption’ through permission of the governments of the nations, just like it was in the days Cyrus and the Second Temple.
B) Before the Complete Redemption there needs to be an in-gathering of the exiles with a tally of no less than 600,000 in the Gates of Jerusalem.
C) Before the Complete Redemption The Land of Israel needs to be built and bearing fruit in all of its expansiveness under the category of the Revealed End that was spoken of through the Rabbis.
This was the aspiration and aim of the GR”A and his students, the founders of The Settlement, and until The Land of Israel will be entirely as a Garden of Eden on Earth according to the verse, ‘For Hashem will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her ruins; He will make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like a Garden of Hashem’.
Our Rabbi established on The Torah of Holy Settlement a recuperation of The Land in measure, expanse, and space. The mission of our Rabbi is our mission, on every detail of building and developing. And every holy hint is a light to our path, becoming a lengthy book to our Torah of our Settlement.
In all of these things, they toiled and gave effort with great vigor, not only the leaders, but also the general men, great and small joined in these efforts with great enthusiasm. All of them grabbed a hold of this higher faith with deep faith, Messianic Faith, that with every stride and step they expanded The Settlement and strengthened it, bringing close the redemption according to the view of the GR”A; his Commandment and his Blessing. In spite of these difficult conditions and incidents of this era, it drew out stubbornness even without the Commandment of this holy service.
A journal of these essential efforts ’26 Types of Labor’ of all that was done in that era, drawn out over 100 years from the Start of the establishment of The Settlement through the students of the GR”A from the year 5572 and onward, through the direction of the higher foundation of the Ashkenazi camp in Jerusalem, including the Peirushim and the Chasidim and the General Assembly of Israel – they journaled in the work ‘Mosdei HaYesod’ about the General Assembly. Here we mentioned only the various vital actions of saving The Settlement – its structure and it’s being strengthened, from the start of the foundation of The Settlement of Ashkenazim in Jerusalem.
A) Forming a Jewish Guard…this is known by the name ‘Hagavradi’ brought together from Ashkenazim and Sefardim. This Hagavradi stood for many years and it continued also during the entire era of the foundation and building of the first neighborhoods outside of the walls of Jerusalem. And the originals already wrote, ‘that were in not for Hagavradi of the Jews the Jews of The Settlement would not have been able to withstand those days for even one day.
B) For a long time the division leaders in Jerusalem performed great vital labor, that they saved the entire Settlement from devastation and desolation which benefited and rescued also the Arabs in those days. A unique and courageous effort to remove the roots of illness and plague through removing and drying rancid pools of water, that stood since the destruction of the Temple amidst the Old City in Jerusalem and its outskirts.
C) Innovative foodstuffs came from outside The Land – from Russia and from Amsterdam: flour, potatoes, rice, medicinal herbs, etc.
D) Building houses and building sewage conduits.
Concluding this essay, we will return with what we began with, with enthusiastic and holy words by the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Tzvi Rivlin of Blessed Memory: ‘Learn well the Zionism of the GR”A, learn well the history and the ideology of the GR”A and his students who were the founders of The Settlement, learn well the Beginnings of Messianism through the view of the GR”A , the self-sacrifice of his students in their efforts of gathering the exiles and establishing The Settlement in our Holy Land, learn well all of this for the sake of Sanctifying God’s Name, for the sake of strengthening and expanding The Settlement, for the sake of glorifying our Holy Torah, for the sake of strengthening Messianic Faith in the heart of all of Israel, learn well this entire great and holy and lofty parsha for the sake of bringing close the complete redemption.
‘If we forget this great and holy history’ cried Rabbi Yitzchak Tzvi with a great voice – ‘if we hadn’t maliciously forgot GR”A Zionism, The Land of Israel would have been settled already by our brothers, the Children of Israel through Torah and the Commandments.
It is a holy obligation upon all of us to repair this light that is crooked with all self-sacrifice.