The Info List - Perushim

--- Advertisement ---

The Perushim
(Hebrew: פרושים‬) were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi
Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania
at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, which was then part of Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria
under Ottoman rule. They were from the section of the community known as mitnagdim (opponents of the Chassidic movement) in Lithuania. The name Perushim
comes from the פרש‬ parash, meaning "to separate". The group sought to separate themselves from what they saw as the impurities of the society around them in Europe, and the name literally means 'separated (individuals)'. Coincidentally this was the same name by which the Pharisees
of antiquity were known. However the latter-day Perushim
did not make any claim to be successors of the Pharisees. In the generations prior to their departure for Israel, the term "Perushim" (spelled in Hebrew פירושים‬) referred to commentaries in the sifrei kodesh (holy books). It was later applied to the Vilna group, alluding to their practice of studying Biblical commentaries, not just the Talmud and later commentaries. Influenced by the Vilna Gaon, who had wanted to go to the Land of Israel but was unable to do so, a large group of his Perushim disciples and their families, numbering over 500, with a few dozen younger earlier scouts, were inspired to follow his vision. Enduring great hardships and danger, they traveled to and settled in the Holy Land, where they had a profound effect on the future history of the Yishuv
haYashan- the Old Yishuv. Most of the Perushim
settled in Safed, Tiberias, Jaffa
and in Jerusalem, setting up what were known as the Kollel Perushim, and forming the basis of the Ashkenazi communities there. Thus the Perushim
were one of the only groups of religious Jews
that did not face the Holocaust
in Lithuania
and Estonia, and the only major established group of poor Lithuanian and Estonian Jews
that did not experience the Holocaust. The conflict between Chassidic and non-Chassidic Jews
was ended by World War II, as the old religious Jewish presence in those countries was destroyed. Most of these people, although they influenced the State of Israel especially through the creation of crafts, newspapers and daycare for Jews, left in the 1930s. Like most deeply religious poor Jews, they were very hesitant to serve in any army or militia. The majority of their descendants established themselves in middle-class neighborhoods of America and Australia. The phenomenon of Orthodox refusal to serve in the Israeli military remains a divisive issue in modern Israel.


1 Journey to the Holy Land

1.1 Safed 1.2 Jerusalem

2 Influence 3 See also 4 References

Journey to the Holy Land[edit] The perushim began their journey from the city of Shklov, about 300 kilometers southeast of Vilna in Lithuania. The organization they formed was called Chazon Tzion ("Prophecy/Vision [of] Zion"), and was based on three main principles:

Rebuild Jerusalem
as the acknowledged Torah
center of the world, Aid and speed the ingathering of the Jewish exile, and Expand the currently settled areas of the Land of Israel.

The perushim migrated in three groups. The first group left in 1808 led by Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Shklov, and the following two in 1809, led by Rabbi
Sa'adya Ben Rabbi
Noson Nota of Vilna, and Rabbi
Yisroel ben Shmuel of Shklov. They traveled via Constantinople
on foot and by horse and wagon, and then sailed by boat to Acre. The trips lasted about fifteen months, and the travelers suffered many hardships, including starvation. The journey was made all the more dangerous because of the Napoleonic Wars that were raging across Europe. Safed[edit]

Old Yishuv

Jewish life in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
under Ottoman rule

Key events

Aliya of Nachmanides
(1267) Alhambra (1492) Manuel I decree (1496) Hebron
and Safed
massacres (1517) Revival of Tiberias
(1563) Sack of Tiberias
(1660) Hebron
massacre (1834) Safed
attack (1838) Jerusalem
expansion Moshavot establishment

Key figures

Ishtori Haparchi
Ishtori Haparchi
(d. 1313) Joseph Saragossi
Joseph Saragossi
(d. 1507) Obadiah MiBartenura (d. 1515) Levi ibn Habib
Levi ibn Habib
(d. 1545) Jacob Berab
Jacob Berab
(d. 1546) Joseph Nasi
Joseph Nasi
(d. 1579) Moses Galante (d. 1689) Moses ibn Habib (d. 1696) Yehuda he-Hasid
Yehuda he-Hasid
(d. 1700) Haim Abulafia (d. 1744) Menachem Mendel (d. 1788) Haim Farhi
Haim Farhi
(d. 1820) Jacob Saphir
Jacob Saphir
(d. 1886) Haim Aharon Valero (d. 1923)


Etrog cultivation Winemaking Banking Printing Soap production Textiles


Kollel Halukka

Montefiore Judah Touro


Musta'arabim Sephardim Perushim Hasidim


Mea Shearim Mishkenot Sha'ananim

Hebron Safed Tiberias Jaffa Haifa Peki'in Acco Shechem Gaza Kafr Yasif Shefa-'Amr Petah Tikva


Great Academy of Paris
Great Academy of Paris
(1258) Ramban (1267) Abuhav (1490s) Abraham Avinu (1540) Ari (1570s) Johanan ben Zakai (1600s) Hurva (1700) Tifereth Israel (1872)

Related articles

History of the Jews
and Judaism in the Land of Israel

Four Holy Cities Applicability of religious laws

History of Zionism

Timeline Pre-Modern Aliyah Return to Zion Three Oaths Haredim and Zionism

Edah HaChareidis ShaDaR

v t e

Reaching the shores of Palestine, however, was not the end of their journey. When the perushim first arrived, they faced a ban on Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
settling in Jerusalem. The ban had been in effect from the early 18th century when, as a result of outstanding debts, the Ashkenazi synagogues of the Old City had been forcibly closed and many Ashkenazim were forced out of the city and barred from returning.[citation needed] While some managed to evade the ban by entering Jerusalem
disguised as Sephardi Jews, most of the perushim journeyed on to Safed, where they joined a strong Sephardi community that was already there. Besides the Sephardim, the community included many Hasidic Jews, with whom the perushim had an ongoing feud. However, the two groups set aside their ideological differences and worked hand in hand to settle the land and develop their community and eventually intermarried. Because flourishing agriculture was seen as a sign of Redemption, the immigrants had brought agricultural implements with them, so that they could observe the biblical commandments connected to working the soil in the Holy Land. Safed
in the first quarter of the 19th century was a bustling town of over five thousand Jewish inhabitants, but was still struggling to recover from the devastating Near East earthquakes of 1759. The physical and economic conditions under which its inhabitants lived were extremely harsh. The community was nearly destroyed by a horrific plague in 1812, and they continued to suffer murderous attacks by Arabs and Druze. The community was further diminished by the catastrophic Galilee earthquake of 1837, which killed thousands of people throughout the region. It leveled the city of Safed
and seriously damaged Tiberias. Over 4,000 people perished, including about 2000 Jews
and 200 members of the perushim community in Safed. Jerusalem[edit] Believing that the catastrophe was a direct product of their neglect of Jerusalem, the surviving members of the perushim community in Safed decided that the only hope for their future in the Land of Israel would be to reestablish themselves in Jerusalem. However, entrance to the Jerusalem
could only be gained once the decree against Ashkenazim had been annulled. The perushim could then reclaim ownership of the Hurva Synagogue
Hurva Synagogue
and its surrounding courtyard and homes, sites that were historically Ashkenazi property. The refugees succeeded in renewing the Ashkenazi presence in Jerusalem, after nearly a hundred years of banishment by the local Arabs. The arrival of the Perushim
encouraged an Ashkenazi revival in Jerusalem, which until that time had been mostly Sephardi. By 1857, the perushim community in Jerusalem
had grown to 750 people. Rabbi
Yisroel of Shklov, who had moved to Jerusalem
in 1815, became one of the leaders of the new community. In the interests of strengthening the Yishuv
("settlement") and its economic base, Rabbi Yisroel corresponded with and met Moses Montefiore
Moses Montefiore
regarding the establishment and funding of agricultural settlements in the vicinity of Jerusalem. As a result, members of the perushim community were among the first to settle in the new neighborhoods of Nahalat Shiv'a and Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first Jewish areas established outside the old walls of Jerusalem. Influence[edit] The aliyah of the perushim had a widespread and ongoing effect on the Jews
in Palestine. They spread the teachings of the Vilna Gaon, which had a considerable influence on Jewish thought and religious practice amongst the Ashkenazi community. They also set up several kollels, founded the first dozen or so neighborhoods in the New City of Jerusalem, including the neighborhood of Mea Shearim, and were instrumental in rebuilding the Hurva Synagogue, which had lain in neglected ruin for 140 years. See also[edit]

Edah HaChareidis Haredi Judaism Neturei Karta Hastening Redemption Mitnagdim Avraham Wolfensohn


Encyclopedia Lechaluts Hayishuv Uvonav: Demuyot Utemunot, by David Tidhar (Tel Aviv: Sifriyat Rishonim, 1947–1971). Morgenstern, Arie: Hastening Redemption: Messianism and the Resettlement of the Land of Israel. Published in Hebrew, 1997, Jerusalem, Ma'or; Published in English, 2006, Oxford University Press. Encyclopedia Judaica, Ya'ari, Avraham. Talmidei Hagra Vehishtarshutam Ba'aretz. Berman, S. Mishpakhot K"K Shklov.