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The Legend Of The Four Captives

During the first millennium C.E., obtaining Torah guidance is difficult for those who live in the outlying Jewish communities of North Africa. Queries and responses take as much as a year to make the round trip. The Babylonian academies are as vital to them as are their local institutions and therefore deserve full financial support.

[Pirates]Some time before the end of the first millennium, the great academies of Babylon send four of the leading scholars with their families on a fund raising mission. They are captured by pirates and held for ransom. The pirates correctly assess that the highest price would be fetched from the outlying Jewish communities. The leaders of these communities ask to meet with the captives prior to the negotiations. They confide with them that they will pay any price, but only if the scholars would agree to remain and become their leaders. They agree.[Captive]

Over the course of time, North Africa becomes host to a number of great academies. Dependency upon Babylon diminishes and ultimately ceases. Torah centers also emerge in Europe

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