Binyomin Zev (Theodore) Herzl

Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 5664 (1904)

May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904

This past Friday was the 110th Yahrzeit of Binyomin Zev – Theodore Herzl.    I did not know about Herzl’s Yahrzeit until Elykum Schwartz told me this past Shabbos.  I saw in Amos Elon’s book, Herzl, that in 1903 the Sefas Emes came out against Herzl and said the Messiah and settlement of Israel can only come from a miraculous event, not through natural means.  The Sefas Emes’s own cousin and the Vilna Goan did not agree with the Sefas Emes.  The Gra attempted to go to Israel and later sent his students to Israel over 100 years earlier in order to settle the land of Israel to bring the Messiah.  I would like to think that in the heavens the Sefas Emes taught Herzl Torah and that they are now learning together.

I just saw this picture in the July 3rd Jerusalem Post magazine.  This is the salon of Edmund James de Rothschild.

blog pic


As I look this picture, I see Theodore Herzl sitting at the table talking, cajoling, debating Edmund James de Rothschild about Herzl’s grand idea to buy the land of Israel from the Sultan of the Ottoman-Turkish empire.    Edmund James de Rothschild was the fifth wealthy Jewish individual Herzl approached to secure funding to buy Israel.  The previous four had not committed at all to Herzl.  Per Amos Elon each one of the five individuals, individually, had enough  money to buy the land of Israel from the Sultan.  Herzl thought that Edmund James de Rothschild would be most sympathetic because Rothschild, known as Hanadiv (“The Benefactor”) was engaged in philanthropy and settlement of Israel.  However, Herzl did not get the firm commitment from  Rothschild.  He got a lukewarm response to the effect bring me something of substance and I will consider it.  Herzl was forced to negotiate with the Sultan as a poker player.  Herzl had to make the Sultan believe that he (Herzl) had the financial backing to purchase the land of Israel, when he in no way had any money backing his grand idea to save world Jewry.

Tragic indeed.