web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Rabbi Who Made Beit She’an Part of Israel

kaftorvaperach[1]

The borders of Israel are today under dispute, but that was also true 700 years ago.

When Estori Ha-Parchi (Ishtori Haparchi), a Spanish-French scholar, came to Israel around 1313, he was shocked to discover that some Jews did not consider places like Ramla and Beit She’an to be in Israel.

Ramla was called ‘Gat’ by the Jews since it was assumed to be the site of the Philistine city of Gath. The city was also called ‘Falastin’ in Arabic, because it was the capital of the ‘Falastin’ province, which was the name the Arab conquerors gave to the Byzantine province of ‘Palaestina Prima’.

How could it be, Estori Ha-Parchi asked, that these towns aren’t in Israel? When we walk from Tiberias to Shechem, both of which are in Israel, we pass through Beit She’an. Are we really expected to believe that when we get to Beit She’an we need to pass through a border crossing?!?

“It’s only to horses and camels that you need to explain that Beit She’an is in the Land of Israel … But what can I do? We now have recent arrivals, who are considered scholars, and who convince the women and ignoramuses not to live there, and say that it’s not the Land of Israel at all, but rather abroad … and so I had to explain it at length, to revive the hearts of the contrite ones.”

Estori Ha-Parchi writes that he would have kept silent if it would have just been a dispute on the details of Halachot in the different regions. But to say that whole towns and villages were outside Israel? He couldn’t accept that.

Estori Ha-Parchi believed that the land was intrinsically holy, and that nothing that we or anybody else did could change that. He did not want Jews to forfeit parts of our land out of ignorance and apathy. And so he decided to set the record straight by writing a book about the land and its Halachas: ‘Kaftor Va’Perach’ (available on the excellent HebrewBooks site)

(Estori Haparchi explaining how he identified Shiloh. Played by Avichai Shiloh, Poyke Theater)

Becoming the first Jewish researcher of Israel, Estori Ha-Parchi spent seven years walking the land: two years in the Galilee, and five years for the rest of the land, both the West and East banks.

His book, which deals with the laws of the Land, goes into a lot of scientific research: geography, botany, history, astronomy and numismatics. At one point he compares geography to astronomy: just as everybody sees the stars and many don’t know which are which, so it is with the towns of Israel. He, of course, preferred the former, and he explains that having spent so many years walking the land, he can now identify places.

In identifying places mentioned in Jewish sources, he realized that the towns and villages retained their original Hebrew name in Arabic. At his time this was a new idea, and he spends some time in his book proving this point. Some of the towns identified in the 19th century were previously identified by Estori Ha-Parchi, such as Modiin, Usha, Eshtaol and Betar.

Estori Ha-Parchi didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk by moving to Beit Shean. At the time Bet She’an was a small town. The town was a station on the Mamaluk ‘pony express’, which passed there twice a week, and a center of sugar cane production. The Jewish community was led by Rabbi Matityah, whom Estori Ha-Parchi admired and consulted with.

Estori Ha-Parchi quickly became Beit She’an’s first PR spokesperson. It is a blessed land, he wrote in his book’s introduction: filled with springs and streams and much happiness. The land was very productive, the entrance to the Garden of Eden.

His efforts were successful to the point that his opponents acknowledged that Beit She’an was indeed part of Israel. As Estori Ha-Parchi writes: “After a long time those people came here (ie, Beit Shean) and admitted they were wrong.”

(First printing of Kaftor Va-Perach)

One of the amazing things about Estori Ha-Parchi, is that we almost didn’t know about him. For more than 200 years after “Kaftor Va’Perach” was written, it was forgotten. In the 16th century, a manuscript of the book was discovered in Egypt. This manuscript, the only surviving one known today, was printed for the first time in 1549. The book again had to wait for history to rediscover it. It was reprinted only 300 years later, in 1852, in Berlin, and by then scholars realized its significance and importance.

Had the book been lost, we would have never known about Estori Ha-Parchi and his research, nor about the Jewish communities of Beit She’an and other towns around Israel in the 14th century.

About the Author: Jameel blogs at the Muqata: http://www.muqata.com, but these days extensively posts on Facebook. Follow Jameel at https://www.facebook.com/Muqata Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Rabbi Who Made Beit She’an Part of Israel”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

muqata logo 486x300
Current Top Story
In Lebanon, smoke rises from a Sunni Muslim dominated neighborhood in Tripoli on August 21, 2014.
Iran, US Equip & Finance Lebanese Army to Fight ISIS
Latest Blogs Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.

Bibi speaks resolutely in forums like the UN but we don’t see that strength on the ground here.

Jewish archaeological finds

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking but no, I haven’t lost my mind and no, I am not kidding.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Discover the motivations and the emotions that may affect investing.

This piece partner- no it was not a spelling mistake- they desire piece after piece of our Land.

President Obama showed courageous leadership with his decision to attack “Islamic State” despite the unavoidable ensuing collateral damage.

The solution to the friction with Hareidim on El Al flights is so simple and obvious, it amazes me that it hasn’t been implemented yet.

Global resources flow to young and capable descendants of Arabs who left Palestine over 60 years ago

There was a problem: A different speech, in part, was delivered on September 27

Obama’s speech was the epitome of chutzpah and hypocrisy.

After Israeli-Arab and Zionist Mohammed Zoabi expressed his support for Israel, he was forced to go into hiding for his safety…

Here is your chance to show your appreciation to the IDF!

This video of IDF soldiers singing one of the most powerful prayers Jews say on the holiest day of the year is simply amazing!

When I think back to one year ago it actually feels like a lifetime ago; I was truly another person.

More Articles from Jameel@Muqata
Mohammad Zoabi, age 17 - 'A Proud Israeli Arab Muslim Zionist.'

After Israeli-Arab and Zionist Mohammed Zoabi expressed his support for Israel, he was forced to go into hiding for his safety…

Abbas sounded like Arafat in a UN speech that angered even the US.

Egypt generously offered to help end the refugee issue once and for all. Abbas refused…

“The Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a floral basket to North Korean Tyrant-Dictator Kim Jong Un celebrating the “liberation” of North Korea.

Antisemitism, stupidity, fear, or exaggeration?

Hamas bomb expert kills team… last week he gave a preview of his unique bomb disposal technique…

A letter from a survivor who recounts the horrors of the 1929 pogrom in Hebron.

Hamas claims that even providing information about the bodies of the dead IDF soldier they are holding hostage is too much to give.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/the-rabbi-who-made-beit-shean-part-of-israel/2012/04/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: