In 1947 a book was published in Jerusalem bearing the title “Kol Hator”. It ascribed Messianic overtones to the immigration of a group of students of the Vilna Goan nearly two centuries earlier, with the accompanying claim that they were the original Zionists. The book itself was allegedly written by R Hillel Rivlin, one of those talmidim who came during that period. But was it? Who really wrote the book? What motivated the author? Why did the students of the Vilna Goan – and the earlier Chassidic Aliya for that matter – move to the land of Israel at the turn of the Nineteenth Century? Was there immigration a Messianic or Nationalistic endeavor? And most of all, how is that legacy a relevant story today in the tense polemics of both scholarly as well as public discourse?

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