A Volume from the Vilna Gaon’s Own Collection Surfaces in Israel

Famed even in his own lifetime for his vast erudition and single-minded devotion to study, Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer (1720-1797)—better known as the Vilna Gaon—became after his death a symbol of old-fashioned learning and piety. A bookbinding from a volume of the Bible that once belonged to the Gaon was recently put on auction in Jerusalem, as the Jerusalem Post reports:

As proof of its . . . origin, an antique slip of paper glued to the inner binding attests, “Tanakh studied by the teacher and master of Israel, the pious Vilna Gaon, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing.” Additionally, the inside paper lining of the back of the binding states the name of the owner: “Rabbi Yaakov Moshe, grandson of the Gaon.”

[Thus], this 18th-century Tanakh was apparently bequeathed by the Vilna Gaon to his grandson Yaakov Moshe of Slonim, son of Rabbi Avraham, the son of the Vilna Gaon, who was a prominent Torah scholar who toiled to edit and publish his grandfather’s legacy.

[T]here are very few remaining items known to have belonged to the Vilna Gaon or even to have been touched by his hands. Among the extant items is his set of the Talmud with his personal annotations.

As the Gaon did not write for publication, much of what are now known as his commentaries were in fact the annotations he wrote in the margins of his books, brought to the public posthumously by his sons. Most of his other works were manuscripts located among his effects after his death.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Books, Hebrew Bible, Vilna Gaon

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror