In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been consumed over the last few weeks with ‘getting to the bottom’ of what really happened in the Jewish community 200 years ago.
Literally every day for three weeks, I’ve sat at my computer for 10 hours a day, poring over genealogical tables, reading every description of Jewish life in Podolia and Belarus I could get my hands on, and generally praying long prayers that God should show me what He wants me to be doing with all the information that’s been turning up.
Yesterday, on Shabbat, I did another prayer-a-thon, to try to get some clarity on this issue in a whole bunch of different ways.
This morning, I woke up with an answer, a derech, to how to get at least some of the information ‘out there’ in a useful way, that will hopefully start to heal the divisions within the Jewish community, instead of exacerbating them further.
The Sitra Achra is so clever.
It’s been pursuing a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ amongst us for thousands of years, already. We could say all this started with the Tsadukim, (Sadducees) – but we’d be totally wrong about that.
All this traces back to Korach, the first ‘tzaddik’ and ‘talmid chacham’ who put his ego ahead of what was best for the klal, and who fractured the Jewish people into different camps, for and against Moshe.
And it traces back to the spies, who slandered the land of Israel and then fractured the Jewish people into different camps for and against making Aliyah.
And even, it traces back to the 4/5 of the Jewish people who died in Egypt in the plague of darkness, because they lacked the emuna to really want to leave their exile.
I could probably keep going, all the way back through history, where each time there was divisions and hatred between different family members, until we arrive at Kayin and Hevel.
Kayin believed the world was too small for both of them, so he did away with the competition.
And now, it’s time to try to start fixing this problem, by welding things back together.
In the Jewish world of today, the Sitra Achra has done an excellent job of dividing us up smaller and smaller into warring factions.
Just some of the camps we’ve been shoved into are:
- Religious vs secular
- Left vs right
- Ashkenazi vs Sephardi
- Dati Leumi vs Haredi
- Chassidic vs Litvish
- Zionist vs anti-zionist
- And of course, today we also have pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine, and pro-mask and anti-mask, and pro-Trump and anti-Trump….
The list goes on and on.
Over time, I’ve learnt that the people who are so mercilessly pushing their agendas, their viewpoints, onto other people are at least a touch mentally-ill.
I was in that space myself until a few years ago, trying to ‘force’ all my relatives outside of Israel to make Aliyah, and trying to ‘force’ my children into wearing socks all the way up to their toosik, and also trying to ‘force’ myself into all sorts of boxes that just didn’t fit, because I’d been brainwashed into thinking that’s what God wanted.
But I digress.
Let’s get back to the main point of today’s post.
In all my digging around in the genealogical tables, I realized a lot of interesting things.
One of the most interesting things that I realized is that so many of the groups listed above were and are being led by members of the same small set of families. Many of these families trace back – via multiple ancestors – to the Maharal of Prague and the Maharam of Padua, and beyond.
Way, way beyond.
One we realized just how ‘connected’ the Jewish people really are, by blood, by marriage, by history – then it becomes totally ridiculous to start pointing fingers at the other groups, and claiming there is something ‘wrong’ with them that isn’t also ‘wrong’ with us.
How can we accuse other groups of consisting solely of ‘erev Rav’ when we have the same parents and grandparents in common?
How can we claim that our gene pool, our yichus, is somehow superior, when that same gene pool produced the biggest tzaddikim – and also the biggest gangsters, murderers and idolators?
(If you’re getting a bit stuck with this concept, pick up a copy of my book Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, where I clearly set out how to really deal with the problem.)
Bad people, bad Jews, bad ‘Erev Rav’ are not just on the other side of the debate.
The Sitra Achra has been working so hard to make us think that this is the case, because when we can pretend to ourselves that only lefties are bad; or that only people who don’t vaccinate are bad; or that only Bibi is bad….
[Fill in the blank]
We are totally missing the whole point.
The point is to work on ourselves, our own bad middot, our own lack of emuna, our own issues, and to stop spending all our time pointing out the ‘bad’ in others.
To put this another way:
All of us contain bad. And God expects all of us to work on it, and uproot it.
And whenever someone is running around shrieking that only their group, their path, their derech contains ‘good’ – well.
So now, of all the many millions and billions of bits of information that I could share with you to make the point, I’ve settled on this:
The Vilna Gaon and the Alter Rebbe were very close family members.
This information has been so heavily and deliberately obscured (for reasons that I am choosing to not go into, at least for now) that you will probably have great difficulty in believing me.
But even with all the deliberate disinformation, and the deliberate changing of dates and names, and the conspiracy of silence that has grown up around this topic, last week, I finally figured enough out to tell you that they are definitely very close relatives.
Here’s how I think they are related.*
They are all members of the same Rivlin family.
Eliyahu Rivlin (the Vilna Gaon) was the father or possibly grandfather of Shlomo Zalman Rivlin, aka Schneur Zalman (the Alter Rebbe).
Shlomo Zalman Rivlin had a brother called Tzvi Hirsch Rivlin.
Tzvi Hirsch Rivlin’s daughter, Shifra, married Shlomo Zalman’s Rivlin’s son, Moshe.
But that’s not all.
Most of the ‘Vilna Gaon’s’ closest disciples appear to also have been his family members, his sons / grandsons.
Those people were also the very close relatives of the Chabad rebbes.
Many of those people – all the same members of the Rivlin family – moved to Eretz Israel.
Some came dressed as chassidim, some came dressed as Perushim, some came dressed as secular chalutznikim – and many of them became the ancestors of the main players in what became the modern State of Israel.
Clearly, I’m leaving out some big parts of this story.
Take a look at Joshua Zeitlin (whose alter ego in the ‘frum’ Jewish world was Natan Neta Notkin), the father-in-law of ‘Reb Alexander Sander’, a very popular figure in Chabad mythology, and also, Zeitlin is strangely connected on a very deep level to many of the Vilna Gaon’s students.
And many of those students are credited with being the ‘fathers’ of the haskalah movement.
Whoever has eyes to see, will see.
But let me end with this.
Did you know that Binyamin Netanyahu, whose family surname was originally ‘Milikovsky’, is a descendant of the Vilna Gaon?
See here for more information:
Nathan Milikowsky Netanyahu was born to Zvi in Krevo (Vilna area)
in 1875, a descendant of the Gaon from Vilna. He studied at the
Volozhin Yeshiva for 8 years and then became an orator preaching about Zionism. He migrated (with his children who were born in Warsaw) to Palestine in 1920 and served as headmaster of various Hebrew high schools in several towns before settling in Jerusalem as an official of the World Zionist Organization.
On his arrival in Palestine, Milikovsky changed the family name to Netanyahu (“Lord has given”). He was from the beginning a supporter of right-wing views in the Zionist movement, a tendency which deepened in the next generations of his closely knit family. He passed away in 1935.
It’s all just one, big (unhappy….) family….
* Many of these people have multiple names and multiple identities, depending on what ‘role’ they are playing.
Slowly, slowly, I’m unpicking it all. But clearly, there’s ample room for error here, especially with all the deliberate cover-up, so I am presenting this as a best guess for how they are related, and I will refine it as new information comes to light.
You might also like this article: