• Issue: December 1983
  • Designer: A. Glaser
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 71
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Rabbi Meir Bar-Ihan, spiritual leader, outstanding organizer, man of action and leader of religious-Zionism, was born in Volozhin, in Lithuania, in 1880 and died in Jerusalem in 1949.

He was an active Zionist from his very early days, one of the founders of Mizrachi - the religious-Zionist movement - and one of its first leaders. At the 7th Zionist Congress in 1911 he was made a member of the Mizrachi Executive and General-Secretary of the World Mizrachi movement. From then on, he was the guiding spirit of the movement and its effective leader. It was he who coined the motto of Mizrachi - "Eretz Israel for the people of Israel in accordance with the Law of Israel" and he explained "there are not three separate principles, but three revelations of a single unity - the complete Judaism".

As a result of his efforts, the Mizrachi movement in many countries grew in strength. Rabbi Bar-Ilan devoted his energies not only to Mizrachi, but also to the problems of world Jewry. He was one of the founders of the "Joint" and served as its vice-president and Cultural Officer. In 1925 he was appointed a member of the Executive of the Jewish National Fund. In 1926 he emigrated to Eretz Israel where he took over the leadership of the Mizrachi movement and, as a member of the World Zionist Executive, was responsible for extending aid to victims of the riots in the Holy Land. He opposed the idea of a bi-national state and the programme of "Brit Shalom" and was against the expulsion of the Revisionists from the Zionist Organization.

In 1937, Rabbi Bar-Ilan was one of the heads of the inter-party group that opposed the plan for the partition of Eretz Israel proposed by the Peel Commission. He took part in the round-table discussions with the British government in London, but when the anti-Zionist aims of the talks became clear, he vehemently demanded their suspension. His request being rejected, he walked out. When the Mandatory government published its White Paper in 1939 he recommended a policy of non-co-operation with the authorities in Eretz Israel.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, he organized a committee of people learned in religious law to provide answers to the State's legal problems, which would be firmly based on religious law. He was the originator and organizer of the United Religious Front in the 1st Knesset. Rabbi Bar-Ilan also devoted himself to problems of Jewish religious education, and when the second World War broke out, he organized "Mifal Ha-Tora" which extended aid toYeshivot (Talmudic Colleges) and helped to save the remnants of theTora Centres in Europe. He also found time for writing. In Berlin and, later, in New York, he edited and published "Ha-Ivri", the Mizrachi weekly and was later the founder and editor-in-chief of "Ha-Zofe" the Mizrahi Israel daily newspaper. He wrote a number of books including an autobiography "From Volozhin to Jerusalem" and a book on his father Rabbi Zvi Judah Berlin. He initiated the issue of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, the publication of the works of Rabbi Kook, and the Israel edition of the complete Mishna.

The Meir Forest in the Gush Etzion area was planted in his honour and the American Mizrachi Organization founded the Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan as a living memorial. The University is the depository of his writings, correspondence and papers, which are an invaluable source of information for all those researching the history of our time.

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Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan