chapter  3
15 Pages

National Encounter and Culture Clash: The Emissaries and the Jews of Iraq

The Jews of Iraq were quite familiar with the concept of emissaries from Palestine. For generations, rabbinical emissaries from Palestine had been visiting the Jews of Babylonia and Kurdistan to collect funds for the holy cities and the institutions of the Old Yishuv. The emissaries were shown great respect. To Diaspora Jewry, the rabbinical emissariesgenerally eloquent, persuasive, impressive-looking Torah sages-represented the Holy Land, and they were received with awe and adulation. They derived their authority and stature not from their extensive knowledge of the Torah or their great wisdom, and not only from their personalities, but primarily from the rabbis who had sent them and the authority of the Land of Israel. They could demand assistance for Palestine, enact regulations, decide disputes and issue halakhic rulings on controversial subjects.1 The attitude toward them emanated from the yearning for redemption and messianic expectations.