Letter by R. Eliyahu, R. Shapira, & Chaim Herzog, Jerusalem, 1984 (44038)

כתב ה"ר מרדכי אליהו, ראשון לציון - Manuscript - Zionism

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 44038
Title (English): Letter by R. Mordechai Eliyahu, R. Avraham Kahana Shapira & Chaim Herzog
Title (Hebrew): כתב ה"ר מרדכי אליהו, ראשון לציון
Note: Manuscript - Zionism
City: Jerusalem
Publication Date: 1984
Estimated Price: $200.00 USD - $500.00 USD


Physical Description

[1] p., 297:210 mm., typewritten on stationary, creased on folds, light age staining, signed in ink.


Detail Description

Document signed by:

R. Mordechai b. Zalman Eliyahu (1928-2010), Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. He.was born the son of a well-known Jerusalem Kabbalist from an Iraqi Jewish family. His mother's name is Mazal Tov. His father died when Eliyahu was a child, and he proceeded to study with a number of notable personalities in the Orthodox world, including the Chazon Ish, Baba Sali, and R. Ezra Attiya. Following his years of preliminary study, R. Eliyahu became the youngest person ever elected as a religious judge (dayan) in Israel. He served as the Chief Rabbi of Beersheba for four years, and was then elected to the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, a position he continued to hold during his term as Chief Rabbi of Israel and through the present.

He worked for the preservation of the Iraqi Jewish rite and the opinions of the Ben Ish Chai, and opposed the attempts of R. Ovadia Yosef to impose a uniform "Israeli Sephardi" rite based on the Shulhan Arukh and his own halakhic opinions. He published a prayer book called Kol Eliyahu based on this stance.

R. Eliyahu is one of the spiritual leaders of the Religious Zionist movement and was an outspoken opponent of the Gaza Disengagement of 2005. He is considered somewhat controversial for his decades-long support of what some characterize as the radical right of the Religious Zionist movement. R. Eliyahu was a friend of R. Meir Kahane and his family. He officiated at the marriage of Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane and delivered the eulogy at R. Meir Kahane's funeral. He is a longtime supporter of Jonathan Pollard and became his spiritual mentor while Pollard was in prison

Chaim Herzog (1918-1997) was an Israeli politician, general, lawyer and author who served as the sixth President of Israel between 1983 and 1993. Born in Belfast and raised predominantly in Dublin, the son of Ireland's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, he emigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1935 and served in the Haganah Jewish paramilitary group during the 1936–39 Arab revolt. In the British Army during World War II, latterly as an officer, he received the nickname "Vivian" because the British could not pronounce "Chaim". He returned to Palestine after the war and, following the end of the British Mandate and Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948, operated in the battles for Latrun during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He retired from the Israel Defence Forces in 1962 with the rank of Major-General.

After leaving the military, Herzog practised law. In 1972 he was a co-founder of Herzog, Fox & Ne'eman, which would become one of Israel's largest law firms. Between 1975 and 1978 he served as Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in which capacity he repudiated UN General Assembly Resolution 3379—the "Zionism is Racism" resolution—and symbolically tore it up before the assembly. Herzog entered politics in the 1981 elections, winning a Knesset seat as a member of the Alignment. Two years later, in March 1983, he was elected to the largely ceremonial role of President. He served for two five-year terms before retiring in 1993. He died four years later and was buried on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem.

R. Avraham Elkanah Kahana Shapira (1913-2007), Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel. A champion of the settler movement, a revered adjudicator of Jewish law - and one of Israel's most divisive religious figures. Still active into his 90s he won notoriety - even among fellow Orthodox Jews - when he urged soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate the Gaza Strip in 2005. Shapira believed that the territory Israel had won in 1967 was promised by God and belonged to Jews in perpetuity. "Surrendering" an inch of sacred turf was tantamount to blasphemy, he felt. While such views are commonplace in rightist circles, Shapira's willingness to defy the army signified a huge breach within Israel's "national religious" camp, especially coming from such an establishment figure. His proteges traditionally encourage military service as a patriotic duty. Given that most NCOs now come from Israel's observant minority, the rabbi's stance seemed all the more corrosive.

Shapira inspired thousands as dean of the Mercaz Ha-Rav Kook Yeshiva, one of Israel's largest talmudic academies and the flagship of religious Zionism. He probably wielded more influence in that post than as chief rabbi, as most settlement rabbis are Mercaz graduates. Many national religious Jews, who make up two-thirds of Israel's 12% observant minority, considered Shapira the gadol ha-dor - greatest authority of his generation on Jewish law. Shapira's tenure at Mercaz was not without incident. Rabbi Tzvi Tau, seen as an obvious spiritual heir, resented being bypassed as rosh yeshiva. Eventually Tau left Mercaz in 1997 to form the more philosophically engaged and Bible-focused Yeshivat Har ha-Mor. Shapira preferred students to study Talmud and halakha (Jewish law). The final straw came when Shapira accepted a state-backed diploma programme at Mercaz.

He was born in Ottoman-ruled Jerusalem. His parents were of European origin and were Jews with deep roots in the holy city. He studied at Jerusalem's Etz Haim (Tree of Life) and Hebron Yeshivas. As his scholarly reputation grew he associated with leading Talmud sages, Yitzhak Ze'ev Soloveichik, Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Palestine's pre-Zionist Old Yishuv were mostly orthodox Jews who regarded human efforts to rebuild Jewish sovereignty as premature, even heretical. Shapira, however, warmed to the contrary ideas of Palestine's first chief rabbi, Abraham Isaac Kook, and his son, Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Both characterised secular Zionists as unwitting pioneers in an act of divine providence. Where the father stressed the bonds linking all Jews, Tzvi Yehuda, Shapira's predecessor at Mercaz Ha-Rav, helped turn "national religious" politicians from moderates into assertive messianists after the 1967 six-day war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Shapira moved to Mercaz Ha-Rav as a teacher after marrying Penina Ra'anan. In 1956 he was appointed to the Jerusalem supreme rabbinical court and became its head in 1971. As chief rabbi from 1983-93, Shapira pressed a nationalist agenda together with his equally fervent Sephardi (oriental Jewish) opposite number, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. Though criticised by some for partisanship, he did rule in favour of recognising Ethiopian Beta Yisrael ("falashas") as authentic Jews. And in 1986, despite conservative opposition, he judged that organ transplants were acceptable in halakha.

Rabbi Shapira also inspired the hardal trend within Zionism - an acronym that appropriately spells "mustard" in Hebrew and Arabic. Hardal represents formerly "modern orthodox" Jews who have adopted the theological rigour and outward paraphernalia of black-gaberdined ultra-orthodox haredim. Yet where traditional haredim generally shunned the secular state, hardalim championed its promotion - until the Gaza pullback, that is. His publications include collected Talmud essays (1989), three further volumes of essays called Shi'uvei Maran from 1990-2003, and a final book, Morashah (2005).


Reference Description