Israeli Early Cinema

In memory of Jospeh Halachmi (1933-2019), Founder & Film historian

Why God created Cimema?

The story of the Projected-Image goes back to the down of the Homo sapiens.

On the first time when Adam dared to pick up a burning branch of wood he discovered a Wonderful Phenomenon: by throwing the light radiating from the fire of the burning branch on a surface, and by blocking the light by certain objects, he might cast series of lights and shadows on the wall of his cave and shape them into figures. That was the first “Home Cinema” device, and Adam was the first Cinematographer. From now on it was only a matter of scientific and technologic development, from Flickering Shadows to Modern Digital Magic Boxes.

Adam, our naïve ancestor, didn’t know much about science and technology. For him the jumping silhouettes on the wall were pure Magic, a fantasy. And even to-day, despite our "Enlightenment", while watching the screen, we feel that we experience a magical performance.

May be, in a way, cinema is a compensation to us: Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise, but the good Lord, in his great mercy, gave them an alternate Paradise, the “Cinema”, to help them overcome the hardships and miseries of this world. Therefore, I said, “Adam discovered”, and not “Invented”. Cinema was originally designed and operated (and still is) in Heaven by God almighty himself, creator of Earth and Heaven. He, in his eternal love to mankind, gave us the brains to “Discover” Photography and Cinematography (and Telephone): Cinema is a Divine Medium!!!

דוגמאות לקשר בין הקב"ה ליצירת תמונות ולקשר כך למאמר.

To support my argument with an un-shakable prove I bring you one paragraph from the story: “A wonder story on how the Holy Grandfather of Shpoli met Graf Potoczki face to face” and I trust it will change all your reviews on Cinema History.

But first let me introduce to you Rabbi Arye Leib of Shpoli…….

תפארת מהרא"ל


The Glory of Rabbi Arye Leib

By: Rabbi Yehuda Yudil Rosenberg

A wonder story on how the Holy Grandfather of Shpoli met Graf Potoczki face to face”.

  1. 53-63

Forward: The plot begins when two Jewish tenants of The Polish Graf Potoczki were fighting over a concession to one of his estates. The* conflict starts when one of them (Meir Pinsker) wants to take it from the other one (Bear the white) by paying more for the lease. Bear goes to the Holy Grandfather to ask for his help. Following the advice of the Rabbi, Bear’s men attacked Meir Pinsker, beat and wound him severely and took the document of the lease from him. Pinsker approach the Graf, who was the supreme judicial authority in all the estates he possessed, begging for justice. He tells the Graf that it is the order of the Rabbi to attack him and to take the lease from him. The Graf who already heard much about the wonders of the Rabbi but never met him is curious to see the Holy Grandfather and to find if he really is a man of spiritual forces. Thus he takes the two rivals with him to the court of the Rabbi.

[…]Then the three of them went along to the town Shpoli and presented themselves before the Holy Grandfather.[1] The Graf[2] asked the two merchants not to disclose his identity to the Righteous man, but to tell him that he was a servant of the Graf that just came with them to hear the verdict. Also, the Graf did not want the merchants to enter to the Rabbi without him because he was afraid that one of them would reveal his identity. So, they all entered together. But in only one look the Holy Grandfather recognized the Graf. He extended his hand to him, spoke to him in Polish and offered him a seat of honor. The Graf was much astonished by the great wisdom of this man of the Lord. Then the Holy Grandfather asked the Graf to come with him into his private chamber, doing him a great honor by this. They had a long chat, but nobody knows what they were talking about. Only the part of their meeting that concerned the case of the two merchants was exposed. The Graf asked the Rabbi why he tried to keep the business in the hands of the merchant Bear the white: “I understand that you did not want that the other merchant would encroach upon him because the Hebrew law forbids it. But why did you bring upon the merchant Meir Pinsker such a cruel beating? Isn’t bloodshed a greater sin than encroachment?” The Holy Grandfather did not answer him but went to his wife’s room and brought from there a big sized mirror.[3] Then he asked the Graf to wash his eyes in cold water. The Graf did it and the rabbi told him to look at the mirror. The Graf looked intensely for several minutes and suddenly he became very excited and cried: “Oh! Oh! Enough! Hold it! Stop! Let him go! He would die of such brutal blows!” Immediately the Holy Grandfather took the mirror away and the Graf was left to sit confused and stunned. It took him some time till he came back to his senses. He asked the Rabbi: “What was this sight?” In reply the Holy Grandfather asked him: “what did you see in the mirror?” The Graf said: “I saw the merchant Meir Pinsker sitting in a wine shop as an owner. Then the merchant Bear the white, being the servant, brought a basket contained bottles of wine. The servant felt down and broke some bottles of wine. Meir Pinsker was very angry on Bear the white and gnashed his teeth on him. He called a tall man, gave him a long and stout lash and ordered him to strike Bear the white with all his force till he would say enough. The tall man jumped on Bear and flogged him on his head, his face and all his body until he was bleeding. I couldn’t bear to see more of this horror sight and cried in anguish. I thought I was seeing a real event, that I really was in the wine shop and I wanted to save the beaten one from his beater. But now I see that it is only a fictitious vision. Will you please enlighten my eyes on the meaning of all this”? The Holy Grandfather answered him: “It was not a fictitious vision but a true one. More than hundred years past since this injustice had been done. In former transmigration of soul, the two merchants were wine shopkeeper and his servant. After both had passed away the sinner and his victim were ordered to return to this world, so Bear the white would recompense Meir Pinsker as he deserves. And you have seen the real event as it had really happened.” To make his point clear the Holy Grandfather interpreted a paragraph of the “Mishnah”[4] in favor of the Graf: “All your doings in life are written in a log book by the lord.[5] It doesn’t mean that in heaven there is a book in which the Lord writes things by pen and ink in letters like we do”, said the Rabbi. “But in real all deeds of every person are written in heaven on a photographic plate.[6] And as we on earth can make “photography”[7] of everything, so in heaven they make “photography” of every person’s doings. But there is a difference between earthly and heavenly photography. In earth the photography lacks life and movement. But in heaven photography can record life and movement. After one’s death [when standing for trial before the heavenly court] they show him all the things he has done in life and the vision looks real as if it is happening. For example, if someone beat another person in his earthly life and the victim was screaming in pain, it would appear in the photograph. Thus, we can always see the event as it really happened, and even to hear the cries and the talking that followed the incident, because in heaven nothing is lost”. The Holy Grandfather added to his explanation of the sight in the mirror: “This is the secret of the biblical verse: Your brother’s blood is crying out of the ground, like a voice calling for revenge [GE 4:10]”.[8] The Graf was amazed by the Holy Grandfather words. He set in silence for a while, weighing the things he just heard and couldn’t decide to believe it or not. The Holy Grandfather sensed his thoughts and told him more: “The Graf shouldn’t wonder on my words. To the creator of all worlds such a minor thing isn’t a great wonder [as for us human beings]. But you should know that in the future human being’s mind would spiritually develop and they would learn to do photographs of motion and sound. We will be able to see the images moving as in actual event and to hear the voices they made while it happened. Even hundreds of years have passed since then. And the time will come when a person will be able to speak to his friend in one minute even if he is far from him thousands of miles.[9] And if people can do such things by the powers invested in them by the creator, no wonder he who had created these powers can performs such wonders”. After a while the Holy Grandfather said to the Graf: “If my explanation is not sufficient I will show to the Graf another vision and this one is from his own deeds. I have no doubt that he will be ashamed of what he did and will never do such an evil again.” Again the Holy Grandfather put the mirror in front of the Graf and told him to look at it. After few minutes the Graf became much distressed and his face turned white. Tears went down from his eyes. Suddenly he cried: “Oh! But am I to be blamed? Why to accuse me? I wasn’t there at all and I didn’t know about this wrong doing.” In this vision the Graf saw that in one of his estates lived a Jewish tenant. After several years the Jew became lame and had to use crutches for walking. Thus he couldn’t work and attend to his business properly. He lost his money and became poor and couldn’t pay for the tenancy. Having eight children to support he was in a very bad shape. The manager of the Graf’s estate in this place was angry because the Jew did not pay for his concession. On the end of the year [31st of December] He sends his men to throw the poor family out of their home in the cold of the winter. The poor people cried in vain begging the Graf’s servants not to evict them from their home in the cold winter. But their tears didn’t help and the Graf’s men scattered the family and its belongings on the snow. An old [Christian] peasant took pity on them and saved them. He gave them shelter in his home to keep them from the snow. When the Graf watched this picture he also saw himself among his men and commanding them to throw the poor family from its home. This is why the Graf cried that he was not to be blamed, because he had never been there and the whole story was news for him. But the Holy Grandfather said that being heir master he was responsible to the behavior of his men and servants. Thus in Heaven [cameras] it was recorded as he himself did the wrong thing. The Graf is the head and the body goes after the head. The Graf asked if he could repair his foul deed. The Holy Grandfather told him he could mend it by searching for the poor family and settle them in one of his estates for the rest of their life.

[At the end of the story the Rabbi guided the Graf how to solve the case of the two merchants].

רבי משתמש בראי כדי להציג מאורעות רחוקים

מקור: "כל סיפורי הבעש"ט", חלק שלישי, ע' ר"ב – ר"ג (מעשה י"א), מאת: ישראל יעקב, הוצאת "פאר הספר", תל-אביב, רחוב טרומפלדור 46, ה' תשכ"ט.

האדמו"ר הזקן בעל "התניא" נזדמן פעם לעיר אחת, ובזמן ששהה שם פרצה דליקה באחד מבתי העיר. ביקש האדמו"ר שיוליכוהו למקום הדליקה והוליכוהו לשם. כשבא לבית הדולק, עמד נשען על גבי מקלו, שהה כך רגעים אחדים, ומיד שקעה האש.

באותה עת חנו בעיר חיילים וגם הם עסקו בכיבוי הדליקה. משראו את הפלא מהאדמו"ר, הלכו וסיפרו את הדבר לשר-הצבא שלהם. ציווה שר הצבא לקרוא אליו את האדמו"ר.

כשבא האדמו"ר אל השר, ביקש ממנו לשבת ולאחר מכן פנה אליו בשאלה: אם הוא, הרבי, אינו בנו או נכדו של הבעש"ט.

"אני" - השיב הרבי – "אינני נכדו הגופני של הבעש"ט, אבל הנני נכדו הרוחני, כלומר, תלמיד תלמידו".

"ובכן" – אמר לו שר הצבא – "שוב איני מתפלא על מעשיך. הבה ואספר לך מה שאירע לאבי המנוח עם הבעש"ט".

החל השר בסיפורו: אבי היה גנרל צבאי,[10] וחנה פעם עם הצבא שלו בעיירה מיזבוז, וקרה, שעברו ימים רבים שלא קיבל כל מכתב וכל ידיעה מאשתו. התהלך אבי הגנרל סר וזועף, דואג ונאנח, ולא ידע מה לעשות. כשסיפר את צערו למקורביו אמרו לו:

  • הלא בעירנו יושב הבעש"ט, שמגלה נפלאות, למה לא תפנה אליו?

שלח אבי לבעש"ט לבקש ממנו שיקבלו לראיון, והבעש"ט סירב לקבלו. שלח פעם שנית, והבעש"ט מסרב. אז הודיע אבי לבעש"ט שאם יסרב מלקבלו אזי יצווה על כל יהודי מיזבוז לאכסן בבתיהם את החיילים, והיות שהדבר היה בפרוס הפסח יכניסו החיילים בכל בתי היהודים שבעיירה לחם חמץ בפסח. איום זה השפיע והבעש"ט הזמינו אליו.

הלך אבי יחד עם שלישו לבית הבעש"ט. נכנסו לחדר הראשון, ומחדר זה הייתה פתוחה הדלת לחדר שהבעש"ט ישב בו. ראה אבי בעד הדלת את הבעש"ט כשהוא יושב ומעיין בספר אחד, שכשפי שאמרו לו לאחר מכן היה זה ספר "הזהר". ניגש אבי לראי שעמד בחדר הראשון, בשביל לתקן את שערו קודם שייכנס לחדר הבעש"ט. ומה נבהל לראות בראי דרך סלולה המובילה ישר אל אותה עיר שאשתו גרה שם. מיד קרא לשלישו שיקרב גם הוא אל הראי לראות את החיזיון הנפלא הזה. ניגש גם שלישו וראו שניהם מאחרי הדרך את העיר עצמה, ובתוך העיר קראו גם את ביתו של הגנרל. והנה נפתח הבית והם רואים את אשת הגנרל כשהיא יושבת וכותבת מכתב לבעלה. והנה רואים הם גם את המכתב וקוראים בו דברי התנצלות על העדר כתיבתה עד עתה, והיא מודיעה לו שימי הריונה עברו בשלום וילדה בן, וכי שלום לשניהם, לה ולילד.

אבי נתרגש מאוד מן המראה שראה בראי והביע תודה עמוקה לבעש"ט. עבר זמן מה והוא קיבל מאשתו את המכתב שכבר ראה אותו בשעת כתיבתו. אז כתב אבי את כל המאורע בכתב-ידו בספר הזיכרונות שלו.

ואני – סיים שר הצבא את סיפורו לאדמו"ר הזקן – הנני אותו בן שנולד להורי, שעל אודותיו כתבה אמי את מכתבה לאבי. והנה לפני גם ספר הזיכרונות של אבי שבו רשם את המאורע, ובדברו, הראה לאדמו"ר את ספר הזיכרונות. (מקור: "סיפורי חסידים").


[1] Holy Grandfather – The title given to Rabbi Arie-Leib of Shpola (1725-1812). The source of it is in the “kabbalah” book: “Zohar”, and also influenced by the leader’s title in the Russian non-conformist Christian sects. Usually he was called just “grandfather” [Zeide in Yiddish] or “Diadka” [in Russian - uncle, guide, teacher, and benefactor]. He was not known for his Talmudic scholarship but was admired by his disciples as a righteous man, helper of the poor, knew how to speak to the heart of common people and performed wonders and miracles.

[2] Graf Potoczki – the Potoczki dynasty were among of the richest and powerful nobles of Poland. They had many Jewish subjects in their estates.

[3] A similar use of a mirror is in the book: „Call Sipurey Baal-shem-tov “, by Israel Yaakov, third volume, pp 202-203 (story no. 11).

[4] Mishnah – A book discussing the “The Orally Hebrew Law” (interpreting the legal aspect of the Old Testament, the “Written Hebrew Law”) by six orders, compiled by Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi [the president] (app. 135-220 A.D.), at about 200 A.D; the basis of the “Talmud”.

[5] The paragraph comes from order “Nezikin” [Damages], tract “Avot” [Fathers], chapter I.

[6] He used the Hebrew word “Yeria” which means wide scale piece of cloth or paper. In 1912 it was used too as synonym to photographic plate.

[7] The word “photography” [fotografie] is used too in both Yiddish and Hebrew versions.

[8] The rabbi meant that the Lord has recorded on film the sight and sound of the murder of Abel by Cain.

[9] Here the rabbi envisioned the telephone.

[10] בממלכת רוסיה השתמשו בדירוג הצבאי גם במגזר הציבורי, לכן הציון "צבאי".


Published as found, in Joseph Halachmi archives (Original date: 30/4/2019) - For Hebrew version click here