||Only edition of this work addressing topical questions of the day and the settlement of Ereẓ Israel in a highly interesting manner, giving the truly Orthodox view on many important subjects. Shevil ha-Zahav was published posthumously R. Eliasberg’s son Jonathan, who added a biography of his father.
R. Mordecai ben Joseph Eliasberg (1817–1889) was one of the first Ḥibat Zion (Ḥovevei Zion) in Russia. Born in Lithuania, R. Eliasberg studied under noted rabbis in Lithuania, became rabbi of Shishmory, Lithuania in 1853, and was rabbi of Bauska , Latvia from 1862 until his death. Active from his youth in Jewish public life in Russia, he explained to Max Lilienthal , who came to "enlighten" Russian Jewry, that the removal of legal restrictions on Jews was a prior condition to the achievement of this aim. Later he believed the basic principles behind Jewish demands should be the improvement of the economic situation of Russian Jewry and the achievement of equal rights. He supported the Haskalah movement, provided it did not weaken religion, and suggested the establishment of schools for commercial and vocational training. Eliasberg defended the first society for the settlement of Ereẓ Israel, founded in Germany in 1862, against attacks by ultra-Orthodox circles, who feared that messianic redemption would be delayed if the land was settled by secular efforts, and in 1879 he published articles supporting Jewish agricultural settlement in Russia and in Ereẓ Israel. After the pogroms in southern Russia (1881), Eliasberg was one of the first who vigorously supported the newly organized Ḥovevei Zion, orally and in writing, striving particularly to achieve harmony between the religious and the "free-thinking" circles in the movement. He was elected one of the leaders of Ḥovevei Zion at the movement's conference at Druzgenik (1887). During the controversy over the 1889 sabbatical year in Ereẓ Israel, Eliasberg opposed those ultra-Orthodox rabbis who demanded the cessation of Jewish agricultural work in that year and appealed to Jewish farmers not to heed their injunctions. He also strongly attacked the ḥalukkah methods in Jerusalem and those responsible for it, most of whom opposed the new settlement of Erez Israel. f his more than 20 works, only one, Terumat Yad (1875), was printed in his lifetime.