Porges, Moses ben Israel Naphtali

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PORGES, MOSES BEN ISRAEL NAPHTALI (17th century), rabbi and emissary of the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem. Born in Prague, he was a relative of Isaiah ha-Levi *Horowitz, whom he followed to Ereẓ Israel, settling in Jerusalem, where he became a scribe. When, after the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49, the contributions from Poland to Jerusalem ceased, and the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem was overwhelmed with debt, Porges was sent as their emissary to Germany. During this mission he published, in Prague or in Frankfurt, his small work Darkhei Ẓiyyon designed to arouse sympathy and obtain support for the Jewish community in Ereẓ Israel.

This work, one of the best examples of this type of literature, is divided into four sections: the virtue of living in Ereẓ Israel, prayer, study, memorial prayers. The first section is a kind of guidebook for new immigrants to Israel, in which Moses draws upon his personal experiences and advises them on what to take for the journey, the easiest routes, how to conduct themselves on the way and the like. In this section he also gives practical details on prices and currency, describes the foods available in Ereẓ Israel, recounts in detail how much is needed for living, rent, and taxes, and lists customs of dress and conduct in everyday life. In the second section he describes in detail the liturgical customs of Jerusalem, in the third section, the methods of study there, including various details about the holy places, and in the fourth, customs then practiced in Jerusalem, among them those of reciting memorial prayers for the departed and of obtaining contributions from generous individuals outside of Ereẓ Israel, in whose honor lights were kindled in the synagogues on Sabbaths and festivals and for whom blessings were invoked. The book was directed to the masses, and therefore was written in the language they knew best – Yiddish. It succeeded admirably in its aim of presenting an attractive picture of Israel. Darkhei Ẓiyyon has only been published once and is very rare.


A. Yaari, Masot Ereẓ Yisrael (1946), 267–304, 770f.; Yaari, Sheluḥei, 275–6.

[Avraham Yaari]