Page 131 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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HOENIG / MEIR BAR-ILAN
123
Mizrachi daily newspaper
Ha-Zofeh.
He encouraged the youth in
the protection of the State, and aided the Hapoel Hamizrachi (the
religious labor component) and the Bnai Akiva (the religious
youth movement). He also sought to ameliorate the rabbinate
economically and spiritually, encouraging the
Mifal Ha-Torah
fund to help support the yeshivot of the Land.
When the State of Israel was founded, Ben-Gurion suggested
that Bar-Ilan become the first Minister of Religion. It was felt
under Bar-Ilan’s leadership all of the religious parties — the
Mizrachi, Hapoel Hamizrachi, Agudat Israel and Poale Agudat
Israel — could best be united. Although the parties were agree­
able to his appointment, Bar-Ilan deferred to Rabbi Judah Leib
Maimon (Fishman), who therefore became the first Minister of
Religion of the Jewish State.
SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY
Recognizing that academic goals must be enhanced, Bar-Ilan
conceived the idea of the
Encyclopedia Talmudit,
of which fifteen
volumes have already appeared under the imprint of Yad ha-Rav
Herzog. He also started the publication of a complete new Israeli
edition of the Talmud, containing the latest notes, novellae and
critical manuscript annotations. Both projects are now directed
by Rabbi Joshua Hutner, who had been designated by Bar-Ilan
for the task.
During the 1948 War of Independence Bar-Ilan could not
leave Jerusalem, but after the siege of the city was lifted he went to
Tel Aviv, despite his weak health, to proclaim before the Pro­
visional Council the necessity for full unity of the various factions
and for the liberation of Jerusalem. Even on the day of his death
he did not refrain from activity but utilized his oratory, despite his
illness, to emphasize his belief that Jerusalem not be severed from
the body of Israel. He died on April 18, 1949, leaving an unexcel­
led heritage of religious Zionism. In his honor the University in
Ramat Gan, founded by Dr. Pinkhos Churgin, was named Bar-
Ilan University.
Bar-Ilan wrote his memoirs in
From Volozhin to Jerusalem
(1939-1940), published originally in Yiddish and then in He­
brew. Many of his essays collated from hisjournalistic writings are
to be found in his
Bi-Shevilei ha-Tehiyyah
(In the Paths of Revival,
1940) and in his collected works entided
Kitvei Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan