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In the 1600’s, Poland was a feudal land in which the peasants’ resentment against the landlords had reached its boiling point. The mercenary soldier Bogdan Chmielnitzki organized an army of Cossacks, peasants, and outlaws whose aim was to overthrow the Polish nobility. Because the Jews held the precarious position as middlemen between landlord and peasant, tens of thousands were massacred in the rebellion. Though Torah scholarship thrived before and after this cataclysmic event, it marked the beginning of the downfall of Jewish life in Eastern Europe.