Historical legends tell us about the ten mighty tribes of Israel exiled by the ancient Assyrian Empire. Our scriptures identify their exilic settlements by name, but no one knows where they’ve gone. How did millions of Jews simply vanish?
The content on this page is copyrighted by the author, publisher and/or Chabad.org, and is produced by Chabad.org.
If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with the copyright policy.
March 29, 2011
Ten Lost Tribes
This topic has been fascinating no end even outside the Jewish community. Where have all this tribes gone? Same applies to the idea of 'chosenness', to become one of the elected. How about the rest of the humankind? 'I called your name and you are mine!' This implies that you are G-d's child forever once you have been baptized, the non-Jewish way of a being 'chosen'. Then of course there is the obligation to live your life according to the commandments + love other human beings in the same way you love yourself. As for me, the Lord's Prayer and the commandments are a solid rock for the veneration of the Creator of the World - there is no need to believe in the dogma of trinity! Isn't the dispersion of 10 tribes a good reminder for Jewish people, that they should not be confined to their community too much and that there exists an opening to mankind? There is always the possibility that a gentile could be connected to one of the lost tribes - you never know!
Brigitte v.Ungern-Sternberg Berlin, Germany
August 23, 2010
is there any truth that maybe the souls of the lost tribes still are holy and will come back to judiasm in the last days.
Mrs. Catherine Cronin
August 1, 2010
the lost tribes
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan is a Rabbi who is blessed with the wonderful gift of being able to impart his vast knowledge in a way that everyone, no matter what level they are on/at, can comprehend. i have had the honor of attending the Rabbi's lectures/shiurim in person and always leave enlightened, uplifted and inspired.
Rivkah Michal Kahn toronto, ON
August 27, 2009
I have never heard any rabbi discuss ancestries that go back to Judah that the kings of Europe had. There is one from Iceland (Priam, Thor, Odin), two from Britain (Zerah, Darius, Brutus, Beli Mawr), and (Zerah, Darius, Antenor, William "the Conqueror,") one from Ireland (Pharez, David, Tea Tephi), and one from France (Zerah, Darius, Charlemagne). Then, their descendants all married each other. Consider the Icelandic Langfedgatal's connection to the Chaldeans through ancestors like Moda (a Hebrew word) and the Icelandic Magi, part of the Chaldean/Zoroastrian religion with their ancestor Thor. 1 Maccabees 12, says, "Darius our bretheren." There are so many sources! I count over 20 sources from the Middle Ages and earlier. Then, there is the fact that Presidents usually descend from kings. The same tribe has been ruling the the world for all recorded history. This data combines easily with the idea of the scepter in Genesis. I don't know how rabbis can avoid discussing this!
Craig Hamilton Sandwich
March 19, 2009
why are you european jews racists?
I am a jew of italian(saphardic-mother)and ethiopian(father) descent.Because of you mostly rascists european jews I was persecuted as a child. but my mother told me not to believe the lies. A jew is a jew is a jew! I will be a rabbi in about 3 to 5 years.The Torah is written on my heart! Scriptually you are in great error. iwas born in manitoba,and I will return after my yeshiva is completed.my HASHEM rebuke you stearnly for saying ethiopian jews are not jewish. One day I will refute all you rascists jews on this issue. Just to let you know. 90% of us jews have goy in thier bloodline! We see this especially in our jewish women who marry goyim and call thier children full bloded jewish! this is rabbinical(men's oral tradition)judaism NOT tanakh judaism! read d'varim 7:3 it says daughters and sons. this destroys the false clam that our rabbinical fathers taught us,that you are jewish through the mother. BUT you are right concerning the so-called black hebrews. May G-D have mercy on you
reed cockrell-cohen minneapolis, mn
July 15, 2008
Thank you Rabbi Kaplan for a most enlightening lecture.
A comment about Italy: Italy is considered Ashkenaz but native Italian Jews use a different Nussach than Ashkenazim or Sefardy and call it Nussach Italky. If one were to daven in the Synagogue in Florence for example that is the nussach used. I visited Ostia Antica which is where the Jews lived at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and indeed there are there the ruins of what is said to be the first shul out of Israel and also ruins of a mikveh.
There are a lot of communities in Italy, Ashkenaz, Sefard, Sefardi, and chabad. There have been many waves of immigration to italy throughout history. Many jews found refuge there from the inquisition and more recently after the Holocaust a lot of Jews came and settled there.
Sarah Junik Brooklyn, NY
June 30, 2008
Regarding Russel's comment, you clearly miss my point. I never said that Levi "lost their holiness," rather used the Talmud's statement about the Levis’ refusing to return to Israel (and the Ma'aser being taken from them and instead given to the Cohanim) to explain the FACTUAL phenomenon of the small percentage of Levis in comparison with Cohanim. This is not my idea, rather a well-worn fact that is often discussed by many.
And finally in response to Allessandro, the nusach hatfila (prayer liturgy) of the Italian community is indeed unique. We have clear documentation of a strong Jewish community in Rome during the second Temple era, which accounts for some of their customs being so unique, and not quite Ashkenazi, however I do nonetheless believe (and I may be wrong) that they are generally identified with the community called Ashkenaz. Also I think you mean Temani (or possibly Tunisian from the island of Djerba) when you say not considered Sefardic in the typical manner, not Bagd.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill, ON chabadflamingo.com
June 29, 2008
I really enjoyed the lecture gave me many new things ,the only question is that in Italy Rabbi Kaplan said they are Askenazi I thought in Italy the jews like in Bagdad are not Sefardi or Askenazi This is the the only question/stament I make. and thank you the Rabbi for a very illumineting lecture
Alessandro Caprotti Guaynabo, Puerto Rico chabadpuertorico.com
June 25, 2008
what do you mean by Levi
I don't know where Rabbi Kaplan gets his information from that the tribe of Levi los their holiness and it was given to the cohanim and that is why there are more cohanim than levim? The Gemara only states that maser rishon was taken away from them.
June 30, 2008
Response to the comments
In response to Yehuda Shuprin's remarks of whom the Halacha follows. I do indeed stand corrected, I had not seen the Maharal or the Abarbanel, and later realized that the Halacha follows Rebbi Akiva m'chavirav (when he argues with his peers) however Rebbi Eliezer (ben Hurcanus) was his teacher so that rule would not apply.
However that point is not the foundation of the thesis I present and it makes no difference, as even the Maharal says that the argument is not if they come back, rather if they will assume independent identities as separate tribes etc.
The primary thrust is only that people's claiming to be the 10 tribes have nothing to stand on, and that we don't believe that there are millions of Jews hiding somewhere in plain sight...
Regarding Moshe's point, our Sages always refer to Yehuda & Binyomin (and not to Levi). Presumably there where many, many Levites who disappeared with them... after all they were evenly distributed in Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill, ON chabadflamingo.com