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Rasputin and the Jews

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Rasputin and the Jews

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Rasputin and the Jews
A Reversal of History
By Delin Colon
CreateSpace, 2011, 110 pages
ISBN: 978-1461027751

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - September 12, 2011

This eye-opening book relies on dozens of sources, people close to Rasputin, friends and enemies, and reveals the truth about him. Delin Colon is the great-great niece of Rasputin's Jewish secretary.

Grigory Rasputin (born around 1870, died by assassination in 1916) was an uneducated, nearly illiterate, but highly intelligent and very religious man. He made a couple of pilgrimages to Israel. He was the spiritual advisor to Russia's last Tsar and Tsarina. He was unfairly vilified by the fanatically anti-Semitic Russian society because, contrary to them, he advocated equal rights for all of Russia's citizens, including peasants, the poverty-stricken, and Jews; his strong ethically-held anti-war views; and his opposition to the death penalty. The distorted history by his detractors pictures this saintly man as hypnotizing the Tsar and his wife and forcing them to obey his wishes. Actually, the Tsar frequently refused to follow Rasputin's advice.

Rasputin "took up the causes of the oppressed, sometimes receiving up to 200 people a day." He prayed with people and gave spiritual advice. He never took a penny for his services. He was an empathic and herbal healer, a man of peace who wanted to avoid war because he realized that it would result in millions of deaths, including cruelty to enemy soldiers and civilians, and would lead to the demise of his country. (Russia lost four million lives during World War I.) His strongly-held views about equal rights for all people took no cognizance of the person's faith and background. He felt that "all religions were valuable and were just different ways of understanding God." He opposed the death penalty because he was convinced that many condemned people were innocent.

Delin Colon describes in detail the terrible history of anti-Semitism and oppression of Jews in Russia by all but one ruler since Peter the Great spread the fear and paranoia about Jews during his rule from 1696 to 1725. He said that he'd rather have Muslim in Russia than Jews. There were times when Jews were expelled from Russia. Horrible restrictions were always placed upon them that affected every aspect of life. There were many "pogroms," state sponsored murders of Jewish communities, where lives were lost and property confiscated.

Rasputin criticized these practices. "Instead of organizing pogroms and accusing Jews of all evils, we would do better to criticize ourselves." In 1910, he took the side of 307 Jewish dentists who were charged with becoming dentists only to avoid having to live in the pale, the area the government insisted that Jews live. He saved them from being killed. In 1913, he stood up for Mendel Bellis at the infamous "blood libel trial," where Jews were accused of killing Christians and using their blood when they baked matzot for Passover. He helped Jewish children enter schools despite restrictive quotas. He stopped some pogroms by alerting the Jewish community of the intended attack. During World War I, he helped free a Jewish doctor from a German prison. These are only several of the many humanitarian acts that Colon describes in her book.

The Tsar brought Rasputin to his court in 1905 because he heard that Rasputin was a mystical man, and the Tsar was very superstitious. He also heard that he was a healer; and Rasputin later used herbs to stem the bleeding of the hemophiliac son of the Tsar. However, the Tsar did not always listen to his advice. "When the Tsar issued a manifesto promising autonomy to Poland, Rasputin encouraged him to also grant equal rights to the Jews," but the Tsar refused. He recommended to the Tsar that despite the vast profits that the government made from the sale of vodka, the Tsar shut down these stores, because the drinking was unhealthy and the cause of misery to the less fortunate classes, and the Tsar refused. He advocated "expropriating land from the aristocracy, with compensation, and distributing it among the peasants so that they could have food to eat and dignity, but the Tsar refused.

What did the Tsar himself think of Rasputin? He said, "he's simply a Russian, good, religious, with a simple spirit; when in pain or doubt, I like to talk with him and invariably, I feel at peace with myself." When the Tsar heard that his relatives had murdered Rasputin, he said, "I am filled with shame that the hands of my kinsmen are stained with the blood of a simple peasant."

Scholars have concluded that if Rasputin's programs would have been adopted by the misguided Tsar, they "would have been a viable means of averting the 1917 revolution."

It is tragic that a person should be vilified because he sought to aid people, and it is even more heartrending that all too many people accepted these lies as true. We owe Delin Colon thanks for revealing the truth.


Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah and on www.yutorah@yutorah.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.

The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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