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Ḥarlap, Jacob Moses ben Zebulun)


ḤARLAP, JACOB MOSES BEN ZEBULUN (1883–1951), Ereẓ Israel rabbi. Ḥarlap was born in Jerusalem, where his father, who had emigrated from Poland, was a dayyan in the bet din of Moses Joshua Judah Leib Diskin. His main teacher was the Jerusalem scholar, Ẓevi Michael Shapira and under his influence Ḥarlap engaged in *Kabbalah and practiced asceticism. After Shapira's death, Ḥarlap published Ẓevi la-Ẓaddik (1907) in his memory, and arranged his writings for publication, publishing his halakhic work Ẓiẓ ha-Kodesh (two parts, 1920–51) with his own additions. When Rabbi A.I. *Kook arrived in Ereẓ Israel in 1904, Ḥarlap immediately came under his influence, and a bond of unusual intimacy developed between them which was strengthened by their common interest in Kabbalah and their leaning toward mysticism and poetic meditation. Ḥarlap was particularly attracted by Kook's thought which stressed the special role of the Jewish people as a whole, the sanctity of the Land of Israel, and the Zionist movement and its upbuilding of Ereẓ Israel – a first stage in the future messianic redemption.

When in 1908 the Sha'arei Ḥesed district of Jerusalem was established outside the Old City, Ḥarlap was appointed its rabbi. In 1912 he was appointed to the Eẓ Hayyim yeshivah. In 1918 he was one of the chief speakers at the meeting of the rabbis of Jerusalem with Chaim *Weizmann demanding that the Zionist movement confine itself to the political field, but he refused Weizmann's offer that he undertake the conduct of religious affairs in the yishuv. When the Merkaz ha-Rav yeshivah was founded in Jerusalem by Kook, Ḥarlap was invited to serve as head of the yeshivah and he continued in this post until his death. After the death of Rabbi Kook in 1935, many expected Ḥarlap to be chosen as chief rabbi, and in any case he was later regarded by many as his natural successor. On the establishment of the State of Israel Ḥarlap expressed orally and in writing his belief in "the beginning of the redemption"; at the same time he demanded an amelioration of religious standards. Ḥarlap never left Ereẓ Israel during his life and regarded it as a merit "that I never departed from holy confines and never [breathed] the air [or trod the] ground of the land of the gentiles."

Ḥarlap's main halakhic work is Bet Zevul, comprising his halakhic discourses, novellae on the Talmud and on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, and halakhic responsa, in six parts, of which two were published in his lifetime (1942 and 1948) and the others between 1957 and 1966. His books on Jewish thought and religious meditation bear the general title Mei Merom. Seven volumes were published (1945ff.), among them a discussion of Maimonides' Shemonah Perakim, tractate Avot, the High Holidays, and repentance. The central idea of these works is the need to purify one's heart, and sanctify one's life. The aim of the Torah is the perfection of man in thought and in action, the penetration of "the light and spark of holiness that dwells within the people of Israel" into "the depth of the nation's soul which will bring about the redemption." Among his other works are: Hed ha-Ḥayyim ha-Yisre'eliyyim (1912); Tovim me-Orot (1920), a defense of A.I. Kook's Orot; El Am ha-Shem (1943), some of his sermons and articles; Imrei No'am (1947), "words of comfort, and encouragement to the people of Israel"; and Hed Harim (1953), a collection of his letters to A.I. Kook.


J.S. Rabinson, Ha-Rav Rabbi Ya'akov Moshe Ḥarlap (1936); S. Daniel, in: Miẓpeh, Shenaton "Ha-Ẓofeh" (1953), 645–70; J. Rubinstein, in: Hadoar, 32 (1953), 93; J. Gershony, ibid., 40 (1961), 53–55; H. Lifschitz, in: Sinai, 32 (1953), 246–52; idem, in: S. Federbush (ed.), Ḥazon Torah ve-Ẓiyyon (1960), 287–303; S. Bornstein, in: Sinai, 43 (1958), 418–28; ezd, 2 (1960), 371–90; Or ha-Mizraḥ, 10 no. 3–4 (1962), 1–22; K.P. Tchursh, ibid., 17 (1968), 77–80.

[Zvi Kaplan]

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