Despite the relative calm under Mameluke rule, life in late fifteenth century Jerusalem was particularly difficult for its Jewish populace. Besides the general governmental corruption, attacks by Bedouins, and a general state of disrepair, desolation, and poverty, the Jewish community of Jerusalem consisted only of the most indigent and weak, those individuals who were not able to flee, as the bulk of the populace abandoned the city due to the actions of its unscrupulous leadership. All of this changed with the arrival, in the year 1488, of Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro, Italy, one of the great Torah scholars of the late fifteenth century. He infused a new spirit into the city and once again the sound of Torah study resounded in Jerusalem as it began attracting serious scholars and students. That story is the subject of this lecture.
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