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Finally (?) – The identity of the real ‘Vilna Gaon’

If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll already know that figuring out who the Vilna Gaon really is has been one of my pet projects for three years.

I know most of you can’t follow all the ‘thumbs’ that explain how I get to where I get to, so this time around, I’m going to give you the bottom line first, before your brain checks out, and then I’ll put more detail below.

Look at this:


I tried to put these two pictures ‘on top’ of each other, so you can see that even given the different styles involved in the paintings – you can see we are almost certainly dealing with the same person.

The picture on the right is the ‘official’ portrait of the Vilna Gaon, the one publicised by his descendants, that you can you read more about HERE.

Snippet of the description for that picture:

  • This is a photo of an oil painting, which is a faithful reproduction of the picture here

  • The photo was taken by User:Chesdovi, of a picture on a corridor wall at Yesodei Hatorah school, in Stamford Hill, London.

  • The inscription on the bottom of the picture here says “this true and correct picture was taken from the picture arranged and made at the expense of much work by the noble woman, may the awe of God be her treasure, the late Mrs Miriam Santahe(?), a granddaughter of the GRA, which is to be seen today in the home of the Wilner family, descendants of the GRA. The false pictures fabricated thus far are nullified, and this is the visage of the good Eliyahu.” The highlighted letters on the last line add up to 5675 (1915).

  • The inscription under the frame says: “The original picture of the GRA, which was in the possession of Mrs Miriam, the wife of Mr Shmaryah Zuckerman, the great-granddaughter of the GRA, the granddaughter of the GRA’s son R Avraham, a picture that was not known until now, and was lately revealed.” This is accompanied by an assertion of copyright by “Kerem Eliyahu – the Institute for Publishing the GRA’s Works”, Jerusalem. This assertion is obviously spurious, since the claimant openly admits that the work is old enough to be PD.


There are a lot of strange images of the ‘GRA’ floating around

(We’ll see why in a minute….)

But this one is the most authentic.


So now, who is the guy on the left – whose features match the authentic picture of the ‘GRA’ almost exactly?

He is none other than….’Shmuel ben Avigdor’, the last ABD of Vilna, whose tenure totally overlapped with that of the ‘Gaon me’Vilna’.

Here’s the full picture of him, from HERE.


Rabbi ‘Eliyahu’, the ‘Vilna Gaon’ (1720-1797), is ‘officially’ meant to have married one ‘Khana of Keidan’, daughter of one ‘Yehuda Leib of Keidan’.

(His first wife).

As usual, you can find bubkiss for who this ‘Yehuda Leib of Keidan’ actually was.

In the meantime, ‘Shmuel’ the ‘last ABD of Vilna’ (1720-1791…) is officially meant to have married one ‘Taybel’, the daughter of the wealthiest man in Vilna, deceptively called ‘Yehuda Safra v’Dayana’, aka the ‘YSUD.’

(His first wife).

As usual, you can find bubkiss for who this ‘Yehuda Safra v’Dayana’ actually was – even though he was the richest man in Vilna, and even though he was a pivotal figure in what was actually happening in Vilna at the time of R’ Shmuel / Eliyahu….

Namely, an open civil war between the Jews of Vilna, that continued for 30 years.


Here’s how the Hebrew Wikipedia page for ‘R Shmuel ben Avigdor’ explains what was going on:

Appointed to the Rabbinate of Vilnius in 1750, according to the customary practice in those days, his father-in-law R. Yehuda Safra and Dayana, known as ‘Ha YSUD’, who was one of the leaders of the community and the richest man in the city [bought him the rabbinate of Vilna].

It seemed to the community leaders that the young R. Shmuel was not a worthy enough figure to hold the position,

Especially not in Vilnius, where there were many rabbis and Dayans. After the death of his father-in-law [in 1764], Rabbi Shmuel’s days of grace ended, the leaders of the community, who saw him as a disruptive factor competing for their leadership position over the congregation [and right to raise taxes over the poor Jews who lived there…], sought to cause his ouster.

And for thirty years (1762-1791) there was a difficult struggle between R. Shmuel and the leaders of the community [aka ‘parnassim’].


The astute reader will notice that this ‘difficult struggle’ was taking place at exactly the same time Chabad historians tell us the ‘Vilna Gaon’ was excommunicating ‘Shneur Zalman of Liadi’.

As I have been saying for years, there is a massive cover-up of real Jewish history going on here, because the real battle seems to have been between old-school ‘Sabbateans’, in the mould of Jonathan Eybshutz, who outwardly followed the Torah in a very exacting way – but were practising incest behind closed doors, for ‘kabbalistic reasons’.

And the ‘Frankist-Freemason’, nihilist-satanic new offshoot of the ‘Sabbateans’, that really got started with the persona we are told is ‘Jacob Frank’ – but who could just as easily really be Jonathan Eybshutz’s ‘Frankist’ son, Wolf Jonas Benjamin Eybshutz, aka ‘Baron von Adlerstal’.

And into this heady mix, came the Baal Shem Tov, who was trying to ‘sweeten’ all the Sabbatean ‘chassidut’ going around all over the place…. at exactly this time.

Before his ‘chassidut’ apparently got hijacked from within by those same Sabbatean-Frankists, who simply parachuted their own corrupt guys in to take over the organisation, after the BESHT died in 1760…. the same as they always do.

And then, when Rebbe Nachman came along a few years later, and rekindled the flame of the ‘good, original chassidut’ – they went after him, and his followers, with all their might.

(Does this sound familiar?)


Anyway, back to the Vilna Gaon.

So, I’ve been trying to track down who this ‘YSUD’, wealthiest man of Vilna, F-I-L of ‘R’ Shmuel ben Avigdor’ actually was, in real life, for a while.

And a few months ago, I figure it out, with a lot of siyatta di’shmaya, and after doing a big ‘pray session’ on this, as that’s the only way I ever get this insights, honestly.

The ‘YSUD’ is: Rabbi (Chaim) Yehuda Leib Ettinger of Lvov.

He married the daughter of R‘ Simcha HaGadol HaCohen Rappoport, of Lvov – another guy whose family tree is a total mess.

Snippet from Wikipedia:

Rabbi Simcha Hagadol HaKohen Rappaport (1650 – 1718) was a 17th-century Ukrainian rabbi and progenitor of the Rappaport rabbinic dynasties. Born in about 1650 in L’viv, Ukraine.

His father, Rabbi Nachman of Belz was a minor rabbi and a descendant of Rashi through his mother.

In his early years Rabbi Rappaport studied in L’viv. In 1688 he was appointed the Chief Rabbi of Horodna. He was later appointed to be Av Bris Din of Levov, although he died on the way there on August 4, 1718 in Szczebrzeszyn.

The Soloveitchik dynasty claims Rabbi Rappaport as a notable ancestor and progenitor.


The astute reader may also have noticed that ‘R Nachman Horodenker’ seems to directly connect to this family…. who had a son ‘Simcha’, who he left with the BESHT to raise (because he was trying to get his son out of that long, insidious tradition of ‘Sabbataean chassidut’….) and who in turn had a son named Rebbe Nachman ben Simcha of Breslov….

R’ Simcha HaGadol was married to a woman called ‘Ella Anschel’ – she was the grand-daughter of the SHACH / SHABTAI TZVI.

You see what I mean, that all roads in ‘real Jewish history’ lead back to the Sabbateans?


R’ Simcha HaGadol Hacohen Rappaport had at least one other son, named ‘R’ Chaim HaCohen Rappoport’.

He was also closely connected to the Frankist movement – but apparently argued against them, snippet from the Jewish Encyclopaedia:

With R. Baer of Yazlovicz and R. Israel Ba’al Shem, in 1759 Ḥayyim, under orders from, Bishop Mikolski, held the memorable disputation with the Frankist leaders. His responsa and approbations are found in numerous contemporary works, including those of his brother-in-law Ẓebi of Halberstadt.


I can’t emphasize this enough, that the fact that all the ‘Sabbateans’ took over our community, and then started duking it out with the more radical ‘Freemason-Frankists’ 250 years ago, is why we have these cover ups literally ALL OVER JEWISH HISTORY.

But let’s get back to ‘R Shmuel ben Avigdor’ aka ‘the Vilna Gaon’, because there is more interesting stuff hiding out underneath that story.


According to the Hebrew Wikipedia, the power struggle between R’ Shmuel, the ABD of Vilna, and the parnassim got really, really ugly:

The heads of the community of Vilnius conducted the struggle by improper means.

On R’ Shmuel’s side stood the craftsmen, whose number increased significantly over the years, but they had no representation in the community committee, and the ‘chassidim’ [Ed. note, this is specifically referring to Chabad] who were still underground, led by Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Ettinger son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel.

From then on a difficult power struggle developed between the leaders of the Vilna community.

The disagreement between the leaders of the congregation and the rabbi also caused a deep rift in the Jewish community in Vilnius, when every Jew and every family tried to determine a position in this dispute:

“And the war was widespread throughout the city, because the people were divided in half, after the rabbi and after the crowd, families provoked each other in families, each man against his neighbor and the woman against her neighbor. And the people quarreled in synagogues and seminaries, in the markets and in the streets, each man oppressing the other in a war of words, in quarrels and straits, and with an evil fist.”


Plus ca change….

Pay attention that ‘R’ Shmuel’s’ son-in-law is a person who was very ‘big’ in early Chabad, R Baruch Mordechai Ettinger.

But here is another important ‘clue’ we get from that Wikipedia page

In the end, it was only thanks to the intervention of his wealthy father-in-law, the gentleman Rabbi Eliyahu Pesseles, that Rabbi Shmuel was not removed from his post, but despite the success in thwarting the plot of the mob leaders, the tensions did not subside.

After his death in 21 Tevet 1791, the congregation decided not to appoint any more ABDs for the city of Vilna.


Well, lookie there.

This ‘Rabbi Eliyahu Pesseles’ connects us straight back to the grave of the Vilna Gaon.

This snippet is from the Seforim blog, HERE, part of a wider discussion about ‘who’ was really buried in the Vilna Gaon’s grave in the old Shnipistok cemetery of Vilna, destroyed in 1950:

R. Noah Mindes Lipshutz (d. 1797). Distinguished Kabbalist, he was the author of פרפראות לחכמה and נפלאות חדשות. He married Minda (hence: Mindes), the daughter of R. Eliyahu Pesseles, mentioned above (grave 1). A close associate of the Gaon during his lifetime, he and the Gaon share a single tombstone in death.


Let’s sum up:

  1. ‘The Vilna Gaon’ and ‘R Shmuel, last ABD of Vilna’ lived at exactly the same time, and look exactly the same.

  2. They are both married twice, and the first marriage is to a daughter of an unidentified ‘Yehuda Leib’, who is meant to be the wealthiest man in Vilna.

  3. This ‘Yehuda Leib / YSUD’ is actually Rabbi (Chaim) Yehuda Leib Ettinger of Lvov, whose brother-in-law takes on the Frankists in a Catholic Church backed dispute in 1759.

  4. The Ettingers appear to have been leading Sabbateans, having the ‘privilege’ of marrying into the family of SHABTAI TZVI / SHACH himself.

  5. Both ‘The Vilna Gaon’ and ‘R Shmuel, last ABD of Vilna’ are engaged in poisonous disputes that last across decades, and literally turn brother against brother, and father against son.

  6. ‘R Shmuel, last ABD of Vilna’ is meant to have Eliyahu Pesseles as a wealth F-I-L.

  7. The daughter of ‘Eliyahu Pesseles’ is Minda – who married one Noach Mindes Lipshutz – who dies the same year as ‘The Vilna Gaon’, and was buried in the same grave as ‘The Vilna Gaon’.


Let’s see if we can unpick a tiny bit more.

‘Eliyahu Pesseles’ is meant to have three daughters:

  1. Minda – marries Noah ‘Mindes’ Lipshutz, buried in the same grave as ‘The Vilna Gaon’.
  2. Feige Super (1735 -1799)- marries ‘Rav Tuvia Bar Avraham’, and her descendants include those same ‘Baron Gunzburgs’ I’ve written about previously.
  3. Beila Shor – who according to Kevin Lawrence Hanit, marries one ‘Yitzhak Eizik Landau of Emden’.

That last one, Beila Shor, is leading us deep, deep into ‘Kevin Lawrence Hanit’ territory, where people have 4 different wives – all with the same name! – but not a lot of other details.

Also, ‘Beila Shor’ is meant to have a daughter called – what else? – ‘Feige’, who marries one R’ Abraham Abele Posweiler, A.B.D. Poswol (Pasvalys) and then A.B.D. Vilna (1764-1836).

Astute readers will notice that this ‘Abrahame Abele Posweiler’ is meant to have been the ABD of Vilna at exactly the same time as ‘R Shmuel ben Avigdor’, last ABD of Vilna’ – who was apparently also a son-in-law of Eliyahu Pesseles.

Of course, someone is lying.

Someone is always lying, it seems, when you get close to the Sabbateans who took over our community and are continuing to run it, even today.

But slowly, slowly, we are starting to unpick more of the knots.



The brother of Eliyahu Pesseles is Shlomo Zalman Rivlin – the father of ‘Benjamin (Rivlin) of Shklov’ (Frankist ‘rebbe’ who stays in the Jewish community, who a ton of our politicians in Israel and rebbes descend from), and ‘Eliyahu Platkes Rivlin’ – who we discussed as being another possible alter ego for ‘The Vilna Gaon’, and who is the ancestor of a bunch of Schneersons.

All just the same, one big dysfunctionaly family, may Hashem finally have mercy on us, and unveil all the lies.


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