Origins of Chabad in Israel – 1777*

  • 1777 – The origins of Chabad in the holy land date all the way back to the year 1777, when a group of roughly three hundred Jews set sail with R’ Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk for the holy Land.  The Alter Rebbe, founder of the Chabad movement, very much wanted to join the group and in fact traveled with them to their point of embarkation in Moholiev.  However, the chasidim and R’ Mendel among them forcefully persuaded the Alter Rebbe to remain in Ukraine so that the chasidim there would not be leaderless.

Interestingly, the introduction of the “sons of the author” of the Alter Rebbe’s shulchan aruch records that the Alter Rebbe remained in Moholiev and “reviewed the entire Talmud for the sixteenth time” before returning to Liozna.  In the meantime, R’ Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and his entourage continued on to Eretz Yisrael, where they settled in Zfat.  There they found the ruins of houses and structures from the earthquake of 1860, which they converted into their homes.

  • 1780 – However, within a few years, the local Jewish residents began to make life difficult for them, and most of the families moved to Tiberius, some 25 miles to the south of Zfat.  A few families also moved to Peki’in.
  • 1805 – A difference of opinion arose between R’ Avraham of Kalisk in Tiberus and the Alter Rebbe in Ukraine at the time, and as a result of their differences, the Chabad chasidim who were in Tiberius moved once more to Zfat.  A few years later, between the years 1808 to 1810, the prushim (under R’ M.M. of Shklov, student of the the Gra) also began to arrive in Zfat.  The chasidim suffered under the local population as they had earlier.
  • 1821 – Chabad chasidim from Zfat, Tiberius and Jerusalem began to settle in Hebron.

*Information on this page is taken from “Toldot Chabad in the Holy Land: 1777-1950, by R’ Shalom Dov Ber Levin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: