MARAN HAGAON HARAV SHAUL ISRAELI ZT”L
Founder and president, Eretz Hemdah Institute
His Life Story
Rav Shaul Yisraeli was born on the 25th of Tammuz, 5669 (July 14, 1909), in Slutzk, White Russia. He was the son of Rav Binyamin Israelite and Rebbetzin Chava, may Hashem Avenge her death. Rav Binyamin served as Rav of Koydanovo, near Minsk, devoting himself to its spiritual rehabilitation after World War I. He was arrested by the Soviets for teaching Torah to community members and sent to Siberia. After that, all contact with him was lost. His mother was murdered by the Nazis, yemach shemam. In wake of the [Communists’] prohibition of learning Torah, Rav Yisraeli learned in various “underground” yeshivot, until he moved to Moscow, intending to request an exit visa from Russia. After his requests were repeatedly denied, two of his friends asked advice from Moscow’s Chief Rabbi, Rav Yaakov Klemes, zt”l, whether to cross the boarder illegally, in spite of the danger of death, that it entailed. Rav Klemes performed the Goral HaGra. The verse that was picked was: “Turn around and head toward the Amorite mountains...as far as the great river, the Euphrates river (Devarim 1:7).” In 5693 (1933), Rav Yisraeli, together with his friends, crossed the frozen Prut river to Poland. However, they were captured by the Poles, who wanted to return them to Russia. He was, nevertheless, saved and immigrated to Palestine in 5694 (1934) thanks to a certificate that Rav Avraham Yehuda HaKohen Kook, zt”l sent him. After his arrival, Rav Yisraeli learned in the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva.
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