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The First Hebrew Explorer of the Land of Israel

Unfazed by rabbinical prohibitions, he took scientific instruments and journeyed to the Holy Land

Rabbi Ishtori Haparchi authored the first Hebrew book on the geography of the Land of Israel, an endeavor that threw the Jewish world into turmoil.  Back in the 14th century, the only materials available on the Land of Israel were the Bible, Talmud and other religious writings. Haparchi, an Orthodox Rabbi, set out to explore the Holy Land and provide a guide for Jews seeking to make pilgrimage. It was his use of scientific tools to explore the Promised Land that proved to be vital, and controversial.  Rabbi Haparchi was born in 1280 in the south of France and grew…