1710 AD to 1730 AD, Psalm 132: Rachel’s tears.

This site was first built in French (see www.147thgeneration.net). The English translation was mainly done using « google translation ». We have tried to correct the result of this translation to avoid interpretation errors. However, it is likely that there are unsatisfactory translations, do not hesitate to communicate them to us for correction.
(for that click on this paragraph)


This generation of the 1710s and 1720s.

According to our count, this generation is the 132nd generation associated with Psalm 132. It is in this Psalm 132 that we therefore find an illustration of the facts of this generation.

In France, this generation is marked by the end of the long reign of Louis XIV with a mixed record, especially after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

England, after the revolutions, on the other hand, is in the midst of economic and cultural flourishing. As a forerunner of the Enlightenment, England is also innovating in a new, more positive perception of Jews.

In the East, the decline is announced for the Ottoman Empire, which has just failed in its offensive against Vienna. He is now on the defensive especially against the Russians. This has an impact on the fate of the Jews in Palestine and in particular in Jerusalem where security is no longer assured.

This insecurity particularly hits the aliyah movement of Judah Hasid, whose synagogue in Jerusalem is vandalized. It will henceforth bear the name of Hourva of Juda Hassid (Ruin of Juda Hassid).

Members of this community are fleeing Jerusalem for Hebron. In their flight they pass in front of Rachel’s Tomb.



To this generation of the 1710s and 1720s the long reign of the King of France Louis XIV ends on September 1, 1715. Although King of France at age five in 1643, Louis XIV actually acceded to the government in 1661 upon the death of Mazarin is more than fifty years of absolute rule.

This reign saw the beneficial influence of Colbert, the construction of Versailles, the emergence of Pascal, Molière or Bossuet. It is unfortunately marked by the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685 which caused the exodus of the Protestant elite of the kingdom.

The wars led by Louis XIV, if they allow to draw almost the current borders of France, undermine the economy. The misery of the people is accentuated by climatic disturbances in particular in the years 1690 which result in a mortality of almost 20% of the adults.

After a period of regency from 1715 to 1723, Louis XV, grandson of Louis XIV began a new reign more focused on peace and economic growth. An alliance with England and Holland is signed on January 4, 1717. The conditions are met for the spirit of enlightenment to enrich the 18th French century.


England at this time is in a context favorable to the outbreak of Enlightenment:

  • The English [1] revolutions and the rise of a commercial bourgeoisie led to a remarkable economic and cultural development of the British Isles. The boldness and vigor of English thought astonished contemporaries. As the French poet La Fontaine (1621-1695) wrote:
    • « The English think deeply. Their spirit, in this, follows their temperament. Digging in the subjects, and strong of experiences, they extend everywhere the empire of sciences « 

This evolution is also done in the religious field with characters such as Isaac Newton or Robert Boyle. And especially in the evolution of the perception of Jews and Judaism, as reflects the reflection of the free thinker John Toland (1670-1722):

  • The true Christianity [2] of the Jews was oppressed by the superior cabal in number of Gentiles, who, being unable to endure simplicity and perfect harmony with reason, in the very state in which it was instituted by degrees under the figures and their mysteries of their paganism, under the distinctions and absurd doctrines of the philosophers, they have been disfigured by their pontifical hierarchy, by their altars, their offerings, their rites, and by the ceremonies of their priests, without merely tolerating those of the Jews, whom they themselves recognize to be of divine inspiration.

This opening is obviously not shared by all the English or even by all the intellectuals of the time but it denotes an evolution all the same remarkable compared to the general thought. In this respect, in previous generations, it is the forerunner of the emancipation of the Jews in the nineteenth century.

In the same way the reaction to this movement, often led by intellectuals who oppose science and religion, is a harbinger of the catastrophes of the twentieth century and a new secular anti-Semitism even more pernicious and more dangerous than religious anti-Semitism. Religious anti-Semitism imposes the pariah condition on the Jews but generally accepts their existence what secular anti-Semitism rejects.

The Ottoman empire

Bataille prout

If the spirit of the Enlightenment tends to spread in Europe, it does not reach the Ottoman Empire which is in decline especially since its defeat in Vienna and is forced throughout the eighteenth century to fight against the pressure of the new empire Russian.

This conflict has an influence on the fate of the Jews in the Land of Israel and especially in Jerusalem:

  • The general [3] situation of the Jews then tends to deteriorate, the Sultan in Constantinople absorbed by the fight against the Russians can not take care to guarantee the safety of the roads leading to distant Jerusalem. Local officials only think of their personal enrichment. Travelers and traders are robbed; insecurity deters pilgrims. Jerusalem is experiencing some particularly difficult years.

The Hourva of Judah Hassid

This precarious situation particularly affects the aliyah generated by Judah Hassid. The messianic movement spawned by Sabbatai Zevi had brought about 1,500 Jews to make their aliyah to the land of Israel and Jerusalem behind Judah Hassid. He died shortly after arriving in Jerusalem leaving the survivors of the trip in a miserable situation. The group disintegrated [4], some discouraged returned to Europe, others followed the example of Sabbatai Zevi by converting to Islam, but the largest number remains in the Holy Land and infuses a new blood to the Ashkenazi community of Hebron and especially Jerusalem despite a precarious financial situation:

  • To cope [5] with the debts accumulated by the companions of Judah Hassid, all Ashkenazi, the most active and effective rabbis are sent to the countries of Europe without being able to collect sufficient sums. You have to borrow from Arab lenders in Jerusalem; these require high interest that can not be paid. The debts of the group accumulate. Promises of payment are not kept, and anger breaks out in violence against Ashkenazi Jews. The creditors stop them in the street, pull out the little money they have, threaten them with prison, « what the Jews fear more than anything ».
  • Finally, on October 29 (8 Heshvan) 1720, the day on which he is read the sabbatical section « Lekh Lekah », the Arabs and Turks break into the Ashkenazi synagogue in the « court » of Judah Hassid. They set fire to all that is wooden, burn forty scrolls of Torah, and if the synagogue had not been built of stone, it would have been entirely burned. Vandalism is accompanied by abuse against the Ashkenazim recognizable by their costume. They continued to dress dark Levites and wear fur-trimmed hats as in Central Europe. Forced to flee Jerusalem, they go to Hebron or Galilee.
  • Some, however, remain in Jerusalem, dressing in the manner of the Sephardim, as do some who are anxious to come to the Holy City from time to time, and are obliged to « disguise themselves » to remain safe and sound. What remains of the synagogue built by the companions of Judah Hassid will now bear the name of Hourva of Judah Hasid (Ruin of Judah Hasid). Even rebuilt in the 19th century, it will continue to be called the Hourva synagogue.

The parasha of « Lekh Lekah » mentioned here is where God reaffirms to Abraham the possession of the Land of Israel to his descendants:

  • And the Lord [6] said to Abram, « Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.
  • And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.
  • And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you. »

Rachel’s tomb

But the group that had been formed around Judah Hassid, even though he was driven by a false messianic dream, had settled in the Land of Israel for the fulfillment of the divine promise. By settling in Jerusalem, failing to rebuild the Third Temple, the first concern of this group was to build a synagogue that is a dignified residence for God before even thinking of their own comfort. Renewing in this the attitude of King David [7].

The beginning of this generation’s psalm recalls David’s commitment that the group had attempted to accomplish:

  1. A song of ascents. Remember, O Lord, onto David all his affliction.
  2. That he swore to the Lord, he vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob;
  3. That I shall not come into the tent of my house, and I shall not go up on the bed that was spread for me.
  4. I shall not give sleep to my eyes nor slumber to my pupils,
  5. Until I find a place for the Lord, dwellings for the Mighty One of Jacob.

While taking refuge in Hebron, the Jews of the aliyah of Judah Hassid pass in front of the tomb of Rachel:

  • When we go [8] from Jerusalem to Hebron, we pass Rachel’s authentic tomb. It is a few hours walk from Jerusalem. On the tomb there is a limed stone construction. Above is a stone dome, supported by four pillars, without a wall (to connect them). Passersby can rest there during the heat, or during rainy periods. Every year, in the month of Elul (September), the head of the Sephardim goes there with several personalities, and they study there all night (sacred texts). They take with them an Ishmaelite to protect themselves from the armed men, because it is in the middle of the field and there is no city nearby, except Bethlehem, but which is distant. Moreover, there is no Jew in Bethlehem.

This tomb concretizes the confirmation of the promise of God made to Abraham then to Isaac which is concretized on the descendants of Jacob, renamed Israel:

  • And the land [9] that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac, I will give to you and to your seed after you will I give the land. »
  • And God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.
  • Now Jacob had erected a monument in the place where He had spoken with him, a stone monument, and he poured a libation upon it, and [then] he poured oil upon it.
  • Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him Beth el.
  • And they journeyed from Beth el, and there was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel gave birth, and her labor was difficult.
  • It came to pass when she had such difficulty giving birth, that the midwife said to her, « Do not be afraid, for this one, too, is a son for you. »
  • And it came to pass, when her soul departed for she died that she named him Ben oni (« Son of the right » or « son of old age »), but his father called him Benjamin.
  • So Rachel died, and she was buried on the road to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

Passing Rachel’s grave, the survivors of alah of Judah Hassid, can only transmit their despair and the tears of their matriarch. These tears of Rachel, who is witnessing a new exile of her children while they were settling in Jerusalem, a city promised to them are mentioned in Jeremiah:

  • Hear the word of the Lord [10] l of the Lord, O nations, and declare it on the islands from afar, and say, « He Who scattered Israel will gather them together and watch them as a shepherd his flock.
  • For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and has saved him out of the hand of him who is stronger than he.
  • And they shall come and jubilate on the height of Zion, and they will stream to the goodness of the Lord, over corn, wine, and oil, and over sheep and cattle, and their soul shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall have no further worry at all.
  • Then shall the virgin rejoice in the round dance with music, and the young men and the old men together, and I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
  • And I will refresh the soul of the priests with fat, and My people-they will be satisfied with My goodness, is the word of the Lord.
  • So says the Lord: A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not.
  • So says the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is reward for your work, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
  • And there is hope for your future, says the Lord, and the children shall return to their own border.

This passage recalls that Rachel’s tears on her children are not in vain. Thus the continuation of the psalm confirms it by indicating that the news was « heard » at Ephrata, a place corresponding to Rachel’s Tomb:

  1. Behold we heard it in Ephrath; we found it in the fields of the forest.

Rachel’s tears will not be in vain. The misery of the survivors of the alya of Judah Hassid will not be in vain. It brings about a vast movement of support from the Jews of the Diaspora who will be one of the first fruits of the definitive return of the Jews to their Earth:

  • The Jews of Constantinople [11], alerted by the seriousness of the situation, undertake to help their brothers in Jerusalem. Seven wealthy Jews and many rabbis set up a committee which, with the help of other communities of the Ottoman Empire, managed to pay the debts and protect the roads, in agreement with the Sultan. The Jews of Amsterdam, who see themselves as the spiritual and economic center of the Western Sephardim, centralize donations from Europe and the New World. Jewish and Christian pilgrimages can resume and even intensify. Around 1730, and for about forty years, Jerusalem knows a revival of activity.
  • Testimonies of the time speak of four thousand Christian pilgrims each year, and as many Jews. This considerable figure for the time stimulates trade. Many wealthy Jewish families in Constantinople make it a point to come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem at least once in their life, with many servants, usually just before Shavuot, when the climate is pleasant. They often make donations to synagogues and houses of study that are growing.

As a result of an unrealistic and groundless Messianic movement, an irreversible movement of Jews to their lands is born until the advent of the true Messianic Age by providing for their material and religious needs.

This is summarized by the end of the psalm of this generation:

  1. Let us come to His Tabernacles; let us prostrate ourselves to His footstool.
  2. Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the Ark of Your might.
  3. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your devout ones sing praises.
  4. For the sake of David Your servant, turn not away the face of Your anointed.
  5. The Lord has sworn to David in truth, from which He will never turn back, « Of the fruit of your body I shall seat upon your throne.
  6. If your sons keep My covenant, and this, My testimony, which I shall teach them, also their sons will sit on your throne forever. »
  7. For the Lord has chosen Zion; He desired it for His habitation.
  8. This is My resting place forever; here I shall dwell for I desired it.
  9. I shall bless its provision; I shall sate its needy with bread.
  10. And its priests I shall clothe with salvation, and its devout ones will sing praises.
  11. There I shall cause David’s horn to sprout; I have set up a lamp for My anointed.
  12. His enemies I shall clothe with shame, and upon him his crown will shine.

[1] Leon Poliakov: « History of Antisemitism, 2 – The Age of Science ». Chapter I: « The English Deists ». (French: « Histoire de l’antisémitisme, 2 – L’âge de la science ». Chapitre I : « Les déistes anglais ». (p. 14-15) )

[2] Leon Poliakov: « History of Antisemitism, 2 – The Age of Science ». Chapter I: « The English Deists ». (Poliakov quotes « The Fox and the Raisins » / Fables, Book XII, 169) (French: « Histoire de l’antisémitisme, 2 – L’âge de la science ». Chapitre I : « Les déistes anglais ». (p. 13, Poliakov cite « Le Renard et les Raisins » / Fables, livre XII, 169) )

[3] Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jerusalem, three millennia of history ». (French: « Jérusalem, trois millénaires d’histoire ». (p. 130) )

[4] According to Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jewish Life in the Holy Land, 1517-1918 ». (French: « La vie juive en Terre sainte, 1517-1918 ». (p. 119/120) )

[5] Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jewish Life in the Holy Land, 1517-1918 ». (French: « La vie juive en Terre sainte, 1517-1918 ». (p. 115/116) )

[6] Bereishit – Genesis, Chapter 12, verses 1 to 3.

[7] See Shmuel II, Chapter VII.

[8] Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jewish Life in the Holy Land, 1517-1918 ». (French: « La vie juive en Terre sainte, 1517-1918 ». (p. 119) )

[9] Bereishit – Genesis, Chapter 35, verses 12 to 19.

[10] Yirmiyahu – Jeremiah – Chapter 31, verses 9 to 16.

[11] Renée Neher-Bernheim: « Jerusalem, three millennia of history ». (French: « Jérusalem, trois millénaires d’histoire ». (p. 131/132) )