The name of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura is familiar to every Torah student. His classic commentary is the key to the understanding of the Mishnah and is the constant companion of all those who study Mishnayos. But as his letters reveal, he was also an intrepid traveller who exposed himself to the dangers of disease and pirates in order to live in the Holy City of Jerusalem. In the late fifteenth century, Jerusalem was at one of its lowest points, depleted by war, plague and rapacious authorities. Rabbi Ovadiah's arrival brought hope and encouragement to the existing communities and gradually attracted newcomers, many of them Italian Jews who sought to be his students. One of these students is the author of the final letter in this volume. Thanks to a promise made to his father to describe all the communities he visited, we have a remarkable record of the Jewish communities of Italy, Greece and Egypt, as well as those of Eretz Yisrael. These travel letters, originally published in Hebrew under the title Darkei Zion, are now presented in English, for the first time, in a lucid and highly readable translation entitled Pathway to Jerusalem. It is one of the most valuable historical sources for the period, as well as a very interesting book for the lay reader. The bravery and dedication of Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura and his contemporaries makes for fascinating and inspirational reading.
Translated by Yaakov Dovid Shulman
|Author||Yaakov Dovid Shulman|