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Harmful Magic and Practical Kabbalah in World War II – Tablet Magazine

Harmful Magic and Practical Kabbalah in World War II – Tablet Magazine

In that dreadful time, when a storm of evil and hatred was raging by means of Europe and murdering its Jews, scary reviews stored reaching Eretz Israel. In the summer of 1940, the sense of impending hazard grew more ominous. Basic Eugène Mittelhauser, commander of the French military in Syria and Lebanon, declared his loyalty to the Vichy authorities, the Italian Air Pressure bombed Haifa and Tel Aviv, and the Desert Campaign opened up in Western Egypt—all indications that struggle was at the gates. Stories concerning the advance of the German army in North Africa and the pro-Nazi rebel in Iraq fanned fears within the Yishuv, because the Zionist Jewish group then rising in Palestine was recognized. The knowledge that Rommel and his forces had reached El Alamein turned concern into actual nervousness. The Zionist management (unsuccessfully) endorsed political means in an try and restrain German insurance policies, and activists in Zionist actions tried to save lots of Jews and convey them to Palestine.

The varied Orthodox Jewish communities dwelling in Eretz Israel (primarily in Jerusalem, Tiberias, and Safed) have been also involved in rescue and resistance actions of their very own. Individuals and communities resorted to the ritual techniques whose power had been recognized to the Jewish individuals for generations—prayer, repentance, fasts, and acts of “practical Kabbalah.” On this paper, I contemplate testimonies of the latter sort of activity.

“Kabbalah” is the identify that has been used because the Middle Ages to explain Jewish esoteric information. In line with the Jewish strategy, this data splits into theoretical and sensible realms—the previous’s concern is speculative and its technique is research and thought, while the latter’s concern is performative and its objective is to behave on the planet. However whereas theoretical Kabbalah did propose a conceptual turnabout and true innovation in Jewish considered God and the world, sensible Kabbalah primarily continued the pre-kabbalistic custom of Jewish magic.

The existence of magic beliefs and acts in the Jewish individuals is properly documented in Scripture and within the Second Temple literature. But, precise evidence of the (oral or written) ritual efficiency of adjurations using holy names for the aim of attaining some outlined change in actuality has been recognized to us primarily because the third to fourth centuries CE. From this era, and even more so from the fifth century onward, insider evidence of this activity steadily expands and consists of texts reflecting sensible curiosity in the ritual performance of adjurations (magic manuals) in addition to artifacts (corresponding to amulets, curse writs, magic jewelry and incantation bowls) pointing to the actual performance of such acts.

This activity was further expanded and developed in Europe through the Middle Ages and the early trendy period because the fifteenth century, and got here to be recognized by its updated identify—“practical Kabbalah.” No performative artifacts have survived from this era, however the in depth magic information collected in dozens of manuscripts—together with both practical instructions and theoretical research (touching mainly on the linguistic elements of magical know-how)—in addition to the presence of magic thought and motion in outsider (that is, non-magic) sources, depart little question on this regard.

Two fundamental instructions of improvement might be identified presently: (1) Kabbalah of the holy names (Kabbalat ha-shemot). This branch of Kabbalah centers on the holy names—their source, mixtures, meanings, and uses. In its sensible context, the Kabbalah of the holy names focuses on the linguistic factor of magic action and marginalizes the ritual-material facet related to the implementation of the names and incantations. (2) The ritual-material development, which focuses on the ritual and expands on all that considerations its particulars. The distinction between these two tendencies, as manifest in the magic literature, is especially a matter of proportions between the linguistic and the ritual-material elements, that are all the time woven together. Both these tendencies are current within the Jewish tradition of the previous few centuries (and even at present) in Europe and in Muslim areas underneath quite a lot of names—segulot (properties), qeme‘ot (amulets), refu’ot (cures), pe‘ulot (actions), hashba‘ot (adjurations) and practical Kabbalah.

The magic recipes literature is a practical literature involved with the day-to-day life of individuals. Its function is to heal humans—their our bodies, their souls, their lives. The magic motion focuses totally on the individual for whom it’s performed in an try to satisfy a defined wish: therapeutic, safety, a simple delivery, enterprise success, a marriage associate, secret information, and so forth. However profit to at least one might at occasions mean harm to another. Magic then seeks to harm and destroy, even to kill. The sorts of harm talked about in magic Jewish sources are not any totally different from these within the Greco-Roman or Christian sources they usually embrace bodily torture, sowing nightmares into sleep, destroying social standing and contacts, harming relations, inflicting illness, damage, and even demise.

Jerusalem kabbalists possessed texts including recipes “for hatred,” “for defeating an enemy,” or “for killing.” Some of these texts undoubtedly reached this group from the surface, as a part of the cultural capital of sages who immigrated to Eretz Israel from Muslim areas and from Europe. Others have been written in the metropolis or in its environment. Eliyahu Abraham Mizrahi Dehuki was extraordinarily concerned about “practical Kabbalah” and invested an amazing deal in the assortment and dissemination of this data. When the very important need to use it arose, considered one of his acquaintances wrote to him on this matter and urged him to act.

The wrestle of Jerusalem kabbalists towards Adolf Hitler and their try and destroy him via ritual techniques of ban and witchcraft is neither the first nor the final link in a sequence of actions and stories about such actions. In the stories concerning the visits to Rome of the kabbalist R. Shlomo Molkho (1500-1532) and of Nathan of Gaza (Sabbetai Zevi’s prophet, 1643-1680) are echoes of probably comparable acts aimed towards the pope. The Rebbe of Lubavitch (Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 1902-1994) and his Hasidim who, in response to a well-liked Habad tradition, “eradicated” Joseph Stalin in the middle of a Hasidic gathering in the course of the 1953 Purim vacation, and people who cursed Gamal Abdel Nasser after the Six-Day Conflict engaged in comparable acts when operating in america and in Israel towards overseas despots-enemies. Not much time would cross till others would seek to harm Israeli Prime Ministers with a extensively publicized Pulsa’ de-Nura’ (fire-stroke) ritual.

In between, Eliyahu Mizrahi and his associates also tried to act and save their individuals from the approaching disaster. Armies and weapons of the type operated by the Allies in the battlefield weren’t out there to them. But that they had, in order that they believed, another power, a holy drive hidden in historic manuscripts within the shape of charms and incantations, rituals and holy names. They subsequently fought the enemy in their approach and, resorting to the facility of sensible Kabbalah, tried to kill Adolf, son of Klara, Hitler, “ruler of the Germans.”


The 19th century and the beginning of the 20th have been a prosperous period for the Torah world in Jerusalem. Over one hundred yeshivot (homes of research) have been based right now, fostering religious and non secular creativity, and Kabbalah had a place in it as properly. Regardless of several descriptions by current arrivals reporting on the decline of Kabbalah in Jerusalem, at this time we all know that, on the time, the town was the scene of a continuous and vital kabbalistic exercise. At the start of the 20th century, this activity was evident mainly amongst Mizrahi (that is, those originating in Arab lands) Jews and targeted on the extra outstanding kabbalists’ yeshivot—Beit El, Reḥovot ha-Nahar, Ouncesve-Hadar, Sha’ar ha-Shamayim, and Gan ha-Levanon. Many Jerusalem sages, nevertheless, studied mystic texts outdoors these institutions as nicely, as people or in groups. This was the kabbalistic scene that the younger Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) encountered upon his arrival to Jerusalem, a setting that he excluded from his analysis as uninteresting and immaterial.

These kabbalists cut up their exercise between concept and follow. Often, they targeted on the research of Lurianic Kabbalah (from the influential faculty of the 16th-century Safed kabbalist R. Yitzhak Luria, referred to as Ha-Ari), and on its software in line with R. Shalom Sharabi’s mid-18th-century technique of kavanot in Torah research and prayer. But at a time of misery, additionally those kabbalists, like other leaders of the spiritual public, expanded their involvement. Some of their actions have been routine—prayers, supplications, fasts—and some relied on extra highly effective ritual symbols. Some have been carried out in public and a few have been discrete. Some have been targeted on the world (to stop a plague or a drought, for instance), and a few at human actions. The appalling destiny of the Jewish communities in Europe, the hazard of struggle at the gates, and positively the “two-hundred days of dread”—as the interval of deep nervousness in the Yishuv (the group of Jewish residents in Palestine) following the advance of Rommel’s military towards the Suez Canal and Palestine got here to be recognized—have been among the many occasions most in need of such action.

‘As I slaughter this cock, so will Adolf Hitler be slaughtered.’

The collective narrative that emerges from modern and later testimonies—primarily in the hagiographic literature and in mild of these interventions’ success (provided that Rommel was finally defeated in El Alamein and his forces by no means reached Palestine)—factors to the in depth involvement, each overt and concealed, of rabbis and kabbalists from all communities in the wrestle towards the Germans. Usually, they convey the collective reminiscence (modern or slightly later) of the Jerusalem group and, in response to the style to which they belong, they typically are likely to hyperbole and must be approached with warning. Nonetheless, I hold that, past imprecisions in specific details, these tales do attest to actual events. Along with private testimonies and incontrovertible documents, they allow us to offer a broad and dependable picture of the ritual activity carried out in Jerusalem by Admorim (that is, leaders of Hasidic communities) and kabbalists in the context of the wrestle towards the Nazis.

This was a multifaceted activity. Some arranged prayers and supplications, fasts, calls to repentance, taking Torah scrolls out of the ark, and blowing shofarot—all in an try to fix the flaw as a result of which, in order that they believed, God had punished the individuals so terribly and persuade him to revoke it. Others went to prostrate themselves on the tombs of the ancestors or tsaddikim (righteous men) to ask them to intercede in the individuals’s favor. Some adopted a defensive technique and requested for heavenly mercy. Others opted for an aggressive course and needed to attack, to ban, and to curse.

R. Yehuda Fetaya (1859-1942), then recognized in Jerusalem as a “nice kabbalist, an professional in the nature of [God’s] names and the incantations, who would write amulets and heal the sick and had several yeshivot for educating the wisdom of fact and amended a number of souls and expelled several spirits,” performed a central position in this affair and worked on it in numerous methods. In 1940, he wrote and printed out a special prayer ceremony and arranged its simultaneous efficiency in numerous locations in Jerusalem to guard the town: “He gathered the public for a special prayer, cut up them into 4 groups, and despatched them to the four corners of Jerusalem to stand there and pray in accordance with the order he had … prescribed. One other supply studies that he performed ascetic rituals and fasts on the Western Wall and joined tikkunim and prayers set by his fellow kabbalists. For this objective, he even led a gaggle made up of members of his household and his group on a trip to Rachel’s Tomb (near Beth Lehem). The tomb’s guard on the time, R. Shlomo Eliyahu Freiman, writes that as this group (about sixty individuals) reached the tomb “they wore sacks with ashes on their heads and commenced to wish, from that morning till the subsequent. At night time, they blew dozens of shofarot crying with tears and screaming to the Holy One, blessed be He, to point out compassion to his individuals, the individuals of Israel.” Within the morning, when Fetaya heard a conversation with one of many native Arabs who said the prayers wouldn’t help and Eretz Israel would quickly be overtaken,

he instantly ordered all the petitioners to go inside, and every one took an empty cup and circled the place seven occasions. Each time, all stated in unison: “the adversary and the enemy would not enter the gates of Jerusalem. The gates of tears aren’t locked.” And he advised them that they need to shed their tears into the cups of their arms … At the end all stated seven occasions in unison: “He won’t come.” … After the prayer, which went on for 24 hours, they carried out a se‘udat mitsvah [a commanded celebratory meal] they usually sang and danced and thanked the Lord asking for their prayer to be accepted.

It’s advised that the Admor of Lelov (the chief leader of the Lelov Hasidic dynasty, Moshe Mordechai Biderman), for example, secluded himself for forty continuous days in the cave containing the tomb of R. Meir Baal ha-Nes (in Tiberias), and moved from there to an extended retreat on the tomb of R. Shimon Bar Yohai. R. Yitzhak Alfiah went as far as Damanhur in Egypt to prostrate himself at the tomb of R. Yaakov Abuhatsera to ask for help and mercy. Others engaged in stormier actions.

Probably the most shocking tradition in this context considerations a kabbalists’ flight over Palestine. Variations of this occasion range. Bezalel Friedman cites a concise report by R. Yaakov Meir Schechter (a Bratslav Hasid, from the Sha’ar ha-Shamayim yeshiva):

On the time of the horrific struggle, through the terrible Shoah, some “sensible kabbalists” in Jerusalem decided to take action to inflict a crushing defeat on the enemy. They inquired and searched for the identify of the enemy and the identify of his mother: Hitler, might his identify be blotted out, son of Klara, and decided to go up on a aircraft above the Makhpelah cave to slaughter a hen there and, when doing so, interact in particular kavanot and [the invocation of holy] names, thereby uprooting the evil enemy. Among the nice rabbis there have been several who did not help this motion.

Two motifs typical of the tales of that point come collectively on this version: the slaughter in heaven and the inquiry regarding Hitler’s mother’s identify (a matter that, as shall be proven, had some foundation in actuality). This plan of the kabbalists, which can indeed have awakened reservations even presently of nice distress, was tied to the identify of R. Shimon Zvi Horowitz (Lieder), among the founders of the kabbalists’ yeshiva Sha’ar ha-Shamayim. Both this source in addition to one other one—a 1989 letter from Yosef Leib Zusman who was also a member of this yeshiva—describe an attack towards Horowitz at the synagogue accusing him of witchcraft and idolatry. In both of them we are advised that he denied any involvement on this action. Zusman’s version of the actual event, which isn’t first-hand both, differs slightly from the one cited. The flight concept is introduced as an actual event and the sacrifice on high is endowed with one other which means: “They are saying that, in the course of the Second World Struggle, a number of kabbalists traveled on a aircraft to spray the blood of cocks round Eretz Israel.”

The thought whereby the slaughter flight would delineate the borders of Eretz Israel with blood and thus shield it’s described in graphic language in another model of this event. This version also addresses the precise feasibility of this act, and solves it in an unique method. In response to the narrator (Nahum Roz), “British officers inquired whether or not the Jerusalem kabbalists might work for the victory of the Allies.” The two that have been sent on this mission (R. Shimon Zvi Horowitz and Hakham Tsaddok Yihiyah Cohen) boarded a army airplane with 4 cocks “white as snow,” and the aircraft circled over the borders of Eretz Israel—north, south, east, and west. They learn particular prayers based on R. Shalom Sharabi’s technique, slaughtered one cock at every path, and sprayed its blood from the air over the land.

Clearly, one can hardly think about that British officers turned to Jerusalem kabbalists requesting help. But even when this was not the order of events, can one assume the very feasibility of such an occasion? Might the British Air Drive have cooperated with Jerusalem kabbalists to spray the blood of cocks from heaven over the borders of the land? Another shocking source, outdoors the Jerusalem group and the Yishuv usually, holds that that is indeed what occurred.

On Aug. 14, 1981, the private testimony of the pilot (engineer and film producer) Wim Van Leer was revealed in The Jerusalem Submit, centering on the kabbalists’ flight. Based on Van Leer, on June 20, 1948, throughout a flight from Europe to Israel within the service of the Haganah (the main Jewish defense organization at the time of the British Mandate in Palestine), he spent the night time on the management tower of a small airport in Al-Adam, Cyrenaica (near Tobruk, on Libya’s japanese border). An Irish pilot he met there, with whom he talked via the night time, advised him that he had been on an air mission in Palestine in 1942, when Rommel had stood on the gates of Alexandria. In his account (as narrated by Van Leer a few years later), a delegation of rabbis approached the Air Drive commander in Palestine and provided to draw a circle across the land to guard it from the German forces. For that objective, they wanted a aircraft. Their request was handed on and “any person authorised it.” When the pilot telling the story landed his Dakota at the Atarot airport in northern Jerusalem, ready for him beside a army truck was a large group of “holy males” accompanied by some army one that was in cost and instructed the aircraft crew. Three previous rabbis boarded the aircraft, on which their associates loaded many cages with white hens.

Three charms for killing Adolf Hitler. MS Jerusalem, INL Heb. 24°7204 (Courtesy: The Israel Nationwide Library)

The deliberate round route included a flight along the coast of Israel and Egypt up to Alexandria, southward along the Suez Canal, touchdown for refueling, onward to Aqaba, and northward to the Lifeless Sea alongside the Jordan River up to Jerusalem. Because the blood of the hens was meant to be sprayed along the route, the door of one of the aircraft’s loading docks was removed, a internet was set in place to stop falls, and the flight departed. The rabbis, who have been coated within the fowls’ blood because of the air sucked into the aircraft by way of the opening, recited psalms and prayers all the time, slaughtered increasingly more hens and squeezed their blood by means of the opening. In accordance with the pilot, a substantial amount of blood spread on the physique and the tail of the aircraft, and the place was a multitude of cages, blood, and fowls’ carcasses. At the end of the flight, the rabbis gave the crew some cash “for beer,” and that was the top.

We obviously can’t know exactly what the kabbalists stated and did on the aircraft in addition to slaughtering the fowl and spraying the blood outdoors. Additionally it is onerous to consider every element of the story retold right here about thirty-five years after hearing it. But if Van Leer’s story just isn’t an entire invention (and I’ve no cause to imagine so), that is an precise testimony to the slaughter within the sky. If this plan of the kabbalists was indeed carried out (with British assistance), this is unquestionably probably the most dramatic motion that Jerusalem kabbalists engaged in as part of their defense rituals towards the Nazi military, whose impending arrival and the catastrophe that may befall the local Jewish group in its wake have been extremely clear.


Not all, as famous, confined themselves to ritual actions meant for cover. A power humans might exert—the facility of holy names, adjurations, and curses was out there to rabbis and kabbalists, concealed in oral traditions and in texts of Kabbalah and magic. Some determined to use it towards the leaders of the Nazi regime, and even towards the source in whose service, in order that they believed, the Germans have been appearing.

The strategy whereby this wrestle meant a confrontation with the cosmic root of evil on the earth, the siṭra’ ’aḥra’—that is, the other, satanic, aspect of the godhead—isn’t extensively documented within the sources coping with this era. It does, nevertheless, emerge clearly from the assertion of the Admor of Lelov when coming out from his lengthy seclusion in, so we are advised, a darkish room in one of the deserted courtyards in Jerusalem’s Previous City. “At first,” he stated, ”once we went there, we went in with great drive, but the enemy [ba‘al ha-davar, meaning Satan] additionally acted resolutely and didn’t allow us to act.” This strategy can also be graphically reflected within the story concerning the serpent revealed to R. Salman Mutzafi in his dream:

He [R. Salman Mutzafi] as soon as associated a horrible occasion with nice nervousness: in the yr 5602 (1942), we have been at Rachel’s Tomb, about 100 and fifty individuals praying for the annulment of the decree towards the Jewish individuals. A scholar then came in and needed to carry out a “kol-bo ban” towards the Nazi leaders, might their names be blotted out. One way or the other, I felt uneasy and withdrew to take a seat in a nook, took a nap and saw a horrible vision. A three-headed serpent stood at this place and opened its mouth to swallow me. Iron jaws have been in its mouth and its eyes spat venom. One standing close to it stated to me: “You need to know that no device or system on the earth can wrestle with this serpent, so beware and don’t provoke it.” From that day on, I continued my prayers and supplications however I kept away from naming the foe and from kavanot and yihudim towards it.

Before this dream, then, Mutzafi had not solely prayed for the Jewish individuals but had also used holy names and performed kavanot and yihudim—that’s, he had tried to ritually influence the heavenly realm aiming to hurt Hitler and his followers. In his heart, nevertheless, Mutzafi appears to have feared this provocation towards the factor of cosmic evil raging unbound on the earth via its emissaries, and that scholar’s try and make this provocation public by means of the “kol-bo ban” evoked a fierce panic in his dream and dissuaded him from partaking in any comparable makes an attempt.

Kabbalistic kavanot of the type talked about by Mutzafi turn into concrete in a later document, whose source is in practical Kabbalah itself. In one among his notebooks, R. Yitzhak Kaduri (1898-2006) copied magic recipes from a manuscript by Abraham Barazani, who was a disciple of R. Yehuda Fetaya in Jerusalem. On the prime of the listing, Kaduri copied a recipe ascribed to R. Yehuda Fetaya titled “To kill a rival.”

Fetaya, as noted, performed a outstanding position within the wrestle of Jerusalem kabbalists towards the Nazis. If he himself is the one chargeable for the method steered in the recipe using Hitler’s identify and the (mistaken) identify Gertrude for his mother, then he additionally seemingly engaged, a minimum of theoretically, in an aggressive ritual exercise specializing in Adolf Hitler. This is the wording of the recipe (with elisions and accompanied by several explanations):

From R. Yehuda Fetaya—To kill a rival

“Right would you be, O Lord … pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter” (Jeremiah 12:1-Three). First recite these three verses and then embrace the identify of the rival and the identify of his mom with the three words htqm kṣ’n lṭbḥh [pull them out like sheep for the slaughter]. Then repeat and embrace the identify of the rival and the identify of his mother with the three phrases whqydšm lyom hrgh [and prepare them for the day of slaughter] thus [that is, as shown below] and recite the verses with the cantillation notes and with the verse “the Lord shall punish the host of the excessive ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isaiah 24:21).

[The six words from Jeremiah are given here, with the letters of the name ’dwlp bn gtrwd’ combined in them. And the writer explains:] along with Adolf son of Gertrude—he’s Hitler, might the evildoer’s identify rot.

[The writer now presents some relevant numerological calculations (gimatriyot) and concludes]: And in my humble opinion, it appears that if a person will say this 3 times [the combination including the verses and the name of the rival] and has a kavanah … when saying “pull them out like sheep for the slaughter and prepare them for the day of slaughter,” the rival can then be killed. So says R. Yehuda Fetaya.

R. Salman Mutzafi was among the extra distinguished disciples of R. Yehuda Fetaya and the 2 have been in shut touch in Bagdad and in Jerusalem. We’ve got no proof that they engaged within the research or the event of aggressive kabbalistic methods based mostly on kavanot and yiḥudim however it’s believable that, at a time of distress, their discussions didn’t ignore this matter.

We do not know what occurred to the scholar whose actions had troubled Mutzafi and whether he did certainly carry out the kol-bo ban at Rachel’s Tomb or at some other website. In any occasion, in a letter that R. Moshe Yair Weinstock, who was also a Jerusalem kabbalist on the time, wrote to a rabbi good friend in 1967, he explicitly talked about collaborating in such a ritual, which had been led by the above talked about R. Shimon Zvi Horowitz (Lieder). He writes as follows:

I feel I’ve already advised you ways we banned them. The chief was the kabbalist R. Shimon Lieder … and R. Moshe Yemini … and I the young one with them, so [it was] a sort of tribunal, and we banned Hitler and Goebbels and his assistants. And till at the moment I’m wondering how R. Shimon knew the names of the mothers of those Nazis, might their names be blotted out.


Magic exercise typically, and aggressive activity particularly, requires the identification of its beneficiary or its sufferer as precisely as potential. The standard approach to take action is to denote the identify of the individual and that of his or her mom. For a Jerusalem kabbalist in the early 1940s to achieve this type of info (which so impressed Weinstock), was apparently not a trivial matter. A quick merchandise revealed several years before within the Do’ar ha-Yom day by day titled “Bratslav Hasidim in Jerusalem Decided to Ban Hitler” attests to this: “A dependable supply signifies that Bratslav Hasidim in Jerusalem needed to ban Hitler by lighting candles and blowing a shofar on the Western Wall. But they retracted from it as a result of they did not know the identify of Hitler’s mother.”

In 2009, the “Kedem Auction Home” provided for sale in a public auction a page they referred to as “Boycott and Curse on Hitler.” An image of it was revealed within the sales catalogue. The image and the accompanying info show this to be a page 23 x 20.5 cm. The text is typewritten and accommodates handwritten additions. The paper was folded and laminated after it was reopened (making studying along the folds barely harder). On the prime is the title: “Abridged model of a ban on one responsible by regulation,” and under it are notes in regards to the efficiency: “Say Amen after each phrase of the cantor. Open the holy ark and take out the Torah scrolls, and say.” These directions denote that the ritual for which this textual content was written was performed (or meant to be carried out) on the synagogue, dealing with the Torah scrolls, with the participation of a cantor and a congregation.

The ban, written towards Hitler (whose identify is all the time written in capitals) and his accomplices, is an abridged and tailored ad hoc model of the kol-bo ban. The directions state that, after its efficiency, the ritual ought to be accomplished with the liturgical blessing Mi she-Berekh (He Who Blessed), meant for blessing, salvation, and success, for the deliverance of the congregation and of Jewish communities and to hasten redemption.

The added handwritten notes contact on several topics. Outstanding is the addition “son of Klara” all the time positioned close to Hitler’s identify, above the road. When the ban was typed up the author had clearly lacked this info, which was later added with a purpose to make the ritual simpler. The writer had originally used the “ruler of the Germans” title, intending the precise Adolf Hitler that the kabbalists needed to punish. The “son of Klara” is an addition fairly than a alternative. The instruction “and if [it is implemented] relating to many, they should converse in plural” can also be noteworthy, testifying to the writer’s sense of duty and to his involvement within the ritual’s performance. Discover also the emphasis in the handwritten addition “all Arab murderers with all of the wicked who assist them” on the opening, which is included within the typewritten model as nicely. This document is undated and it’s arduous to estimate when exactly it was written. Following is the textual content (the handwritten additions are italicized):

God Prepared

Abridged model of a ban on one guilty by regulation. (Say amen after every word of the cantor) open the holy ark, take out the Torah scrolls, and say:

We ship to Heaven the judgment on all Arab murderers with all of the wicked who help them, and on the well-known villain Adolf Hitler the foe, son of Klara and his complete nation, might their identify be blotted out.

Thus we say: As decreed by the angels and by the saying of holy ones, we boycott, ban, excommunicate, execrate, and curse, with the agreement of God, might He be blessed, and of this holy congregation, the evil Gentile Adolf Hitler son of Klara ruler of the Germans ??? the foes Goebbels and Göring with all their associates, enemies of Israel, might their names and memory be blotted out, with all the Arab nation, might its identify and memory be blotted out, with divine consent and with the consent of this congregation, with this holy Torah scroll and the 613 commandments written in it. And with the ban that Joshua banned Jericho and with the curse that Elisha cursed the youths and with the curse he cursed his servant Gehazi. And with the spell of spells that Rav Yehuda ben Rav Yehezkel threw on a sure man, and with all the bans and curses and execrations and boycotts and excommunications carried out because the days of Moses, might he relaxation in peace, and until as we speak. All will befall the evil Gentile ruler of the Germans Adolf Hitler son of Klara with all his evil associates enemies of Israel mentioned above, might their identify and memory be blotted out. And if [it is implemented] relating to many, they need to converse in plural. Might he be cursed on the day. Might he be cursed at night time. Might he be cursed when mendacity down. Might he be cursed when rising up. Might he be cursed when going out and when coming in. Might he be cursed wherever he turns to. In dread will his soul depart. [God] won’t spare him. Then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke towards that man and all of the curses which are written in this ebook of the Torah will lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his identify from beneath heaven. And the Lord will mark him off for evil out of all of the tribes of Israel, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant which are written on this e-book of the Torah [Deuteronomy 29:19-20]. And you that did cleave to the Torah of your God are alive each one among you today [Deuteronomy 4:4].

And then say:

He who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon and the prophets of Israel and the righteous of the world, He’ll bless all this holy congregation with all the holy congregations. Apart from the evil ruler of the Germans Adolf Hitler son of Klara with all his evil associates mentioned above who spill Jewish blood, might they be misplaced. However our Jewish brethren, God in his mercy will shield them and hold them, and save them from all sorrow and distress, and lengthen their days and their years and bless all their deeds with success and soon redeem them eternally together with the entire of Israel amen might it’s His will and we say amen.

This, then, is an actual testimony of the preparation of a public banning ritual for “Hitler the son of Klara the ruler of the Germans,” and with him Goebbels and Göring and their assistants. The chain of banning verbs, the cursing phrases, and the ritual construction of saying amen in unison after every phrase of the cantor (doubtless loudly and with great fervor) dealing with the illustration of God embodied within the Torah scrolls taken out from the ark are all meant to create a performative occasion capable of effecting loss and destruction.

Only one further step separates this type of ritual event from the actual implementation of harmful witchcraft for the aim of eliminating Hitler. In an interview that the journalist Yoram Harpaz carried out with Fania Scholem, Gershom Scholem’s widow, she reported:

Through the Second World Struggle, several kabbalists got here here [meaning to their home] and requested him to teach them to activate powers that might remove Hitler. Scholem advised them it is forbidden to awaken such powers. They however tried, and after Rudolf Hess fell in England he stated that they had virtually succeeded.

Fania Scholem advised this story as evidence supporting her declare that her husband’s relationship with Kabbalah had not been confined, as he had declared, to philological-historical analysis and that his involvement in it had resembled, even if slightly, that of the kabbalists. It is onerous to say whether what he advised his wife and the kabbalists asking for his recommendation was meant in earnest, as she thought, or in jest, however that is irrelevant for my current function. What matters is her testimony concerning the very prevalence of this encounter and Scholem’s information that the kabbalists did finally carry out some act of the type that they had mentioned with him.

We now have no details about the group that sought Scholem’s recommendation and whether it additionally included Eliyahu Abraham Mizrahi (Dehuki). Scholem was by then already recognized to the Jerusalem kabbalists as a scholar properly versed in Kabbalah literature and in kabbalistic manuscripts, they usually in all probability valued him tremendously. He met some of them. He additionally thought-about learning from some of them (however decided towards the thought). Mizrahi, who was mainly occupied with sensible Kabbalah, is an fascinating instance of those relationships. On the one hand, in an inventory that Scholem made for himself including names of yeshivot, sages, and numerous issues pertaining to Kabbalah in Jerusalem, Scholem mentions him as “Eliyahu Dehuki from Kurdistan, who provided to teach me sensible Kabbalah.” On the opposite, Mizrahi copied in his own handwriting fragments from Scholem’s article about “Bilar the King of the Demons,” (under). Dehuki, then, might have tried to interact Scholem in some type of dialogue, maybe because of his own marginal standing in the area people of kabbalists and his seek for an alternate authority that may lend him credence, and perhaps resulting from his contacts with Prof. Yosef Yoel Rivlin (1889-1971), the professional in Oriental studies. Was it then Eliyahu Mizrahi, the Kabbalah practitioner, who arranged the kabbalists’ assembly with Scholem and introduced them to his residence? We can’t be positive. In any event, the piece of paper given to Mizrahi containing three magic recipes for killing Adolf Hitler is certainly the document closest in its spirit to the dialog that passed off at Scholem’s residence.


Eliyahu Abraham Mizrahi Dehuki Abu Abdallah was born in the mid-1870s in Zakhu, northwestern Iraq. His household got here from Duhuk, a town close to Zakhu (hence his nickname Dehuki), and traded in textiles. He studied with the local rabbis in his youth, married at 18, and from the age of 21 he combined business and research journeys in the area between Zakhu and Bagdad. In his early thirties, he immigrated to Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. Because of economic difficulties, he left and wandered between Egypt and Greece and eventually, about ten years after his first arrival, he returned to Jerusalem and settled within the Sha‘arei Raḥamim neighborhood.

In 1928, when he was 53, he started to write down for Yoel Rivlin (who was then a professor of Arabic and Islam on the Hebrew College) a version of the Scriptures within the dialect of Zakhu Jews. This venture took many months and, in the middle of it, the two turned acquainted. In line with Rivlin, Mizrahi “was not thought-about a ‘sage’ (ḥakham), although he engaged extensively in practical Kabbalah and was in contact with kabbalists in Jerusalem. Individuals from his personal ethnic group held he was versed in mystical information, might inform the longer term, and had incantations for all sicknesses and ailments.” On his character, Rivlin writes that “he was not only gifted with unimaginable imagination, since he engaged in Kabbalah, but in addition with a quick grasp, a sharp eye, and an understanding coronary heart.” The 2 have been in touch over a few years and, in the middle of them, Mizrahi wrote another eight works for Rivlin, all devoted to the folklore of Jews in Kurdistan and their history.

Some more information about Dehuki’s activities in Jerusalem could be retrieved from his manuscripts and from the books he revealed. Obtainable within the Nationwide Library of Israel and within the Library’s Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts are 4 manuscripts the place Mizrahi recognized himself in the colophon and two extra that have been his work. Two of the previous are from Rivlin’s property: the interpretation of the Scriptures into Kurdish Aramean and a guide of proverbs and tales of Kurdish Jews. The 2 other manuscripts the place he identified himself are devoted to sensible Kabbalah. Mizrahi gathered in them magic recipes and divination texts beside magical and demonological treatises. One, which he referred to as Harba de-Moshe (The Sword of Moses), is principally a replica of Moshe Gaster’s printed edition of this work, defined by Mizrahi as “practical Kabbalah.”

One other treatise by Mizrahi, an in depth manuscript together with lots of of magic recipes and numerous issues of demonology and divination, reached the kabbalist R. Yitzhak Kaduri mentioned above, who copied fragments from it. Kaduri was not proud of the fabric that Mizrahi had collected, which he seen as touching partly on impure issues alien to Judaism, and he used broad discretion in choosing from it. R. Yaakov Ades, who dealt with the printing of Kaduri’s writings in sensible Kabbalah, censored it too in order that the ebook by Mizrahi that has reached us is a missing, expurgated version. So far as we know, that is the most important quantity that Mizrahi wrote. He included in it recipes from all of the recognized areas in magic literature, which he ordered alphabetically in line with their goals (clearly influenced by the writings of R. Abraham Hamuy [1836-1886]which he knew no less than partly).

Mizrahi’s manuscripts and books embrace an enormous variety of magic recipes, together with many for “hatred” and for “killing.” These found on the piece of paper written for him, nevertheless, aren’t amongst them. The idea of this manuscript was in all probability a dialog between Mizrahi and one among his sensible Kabbalah colleagues, but I do not know who this was. In the hagiographic literature about modern kabbalists and Admorim, Mizrahi isn’t talked about and Rivlin appears to have been right when he claimed that they did not view him as a real associate. Be that as it might, at the very time the horrors of the Third Reich descended upon Europe’s Jews and its military stood on the gates of Palestine, certainly one of Mizrahi’s acquaintances thought that he may be capable of do one thing to enhance the state of affairs and wrote out for him instructions for killing Adolf Hitler, “ruler of the Germans.”

The MSS Jerusalem, INL Heb. 24°7204.4, is a bit of paper of 22 x 11 cms. that was folded into 4 (alongside its length and width), tore widthwise when folded and is now made up of three pieces glued together. The doc is written with ink in Oriental script (a script typical of Hebrew manuscripts from the Muslim world). It bears no date and the one figuring out signal that would perhaps point to its writer is the identify “Abraham” written in pencil on the underside right quarter of the reverse aspect. Its content material is as follows (I added a couple of punctuation marks):


To my pricey pal, the god-fearing dependable trustworthy and clever R. Eliyahu

Abraham Mizrahi, might God sustain him and maintain him.

The first of the 613 commandments is the commandment to blot out the memory of Amalek, might its identify and reminiscence be blotted out.

Hence my pal I ship out to him three proven charms [segulot] to kill the idiot canine

who needs to exterminate the individuals of Israel and to watch [the commandment] if a person comes to kill you

rise early and kill him first. And these are the charms, (1) He should take a white cock that was chosen

by the identify [named after] of the evildoer Adolf Hitler and raise it at residence for 3 weeks

that is twenty-one days after which will slaughter it on a waterway and say

seven occasions, as I slaughter this cock so will Adolf Hitler the ruler of the Germans be slaughtered by

Samael, amen might it’s His will.

(2) One other [one]. Write on a burnt piece of limestone

these names ‘NY’L, LHBY’L, ZRW‘Y’L, ’BHY’L, YHW’L, MṢY’L

T’WMY’L, WHHY’L, ’WRY’L, ’DWNY’L, SRFY’L seraphs

stand above Him, that they need to destroy the evildoer Adolf Hitler, ruler of the Germans, might his identify be blotted out

lemaher shalal ḥash baz (the spoil speeds, the prey hastens), and bury it in an previous grave. Confirmed.

(Three) Another [one]. To buy a cock, for nine days

he ought to hold it in the house and will call him by the identify of the evildoer as famous above and he ought to bury him

with the pot in the mud and say, as I buried this cock so

did I bury the evildoer Adolf Hitler might his identify be blotted out,

ruler of the Germans.



Rationalization and notes:

(1) First Appeal

The steered motion is predicated on the sympathetic regulation of similarity, which comes forth here in the equation between signifier and signified and within the performative proclamation that they share the identical fate. Its end result is a sacrifice, that’s, a violent ritual act for taking a life. The mixture of these two elements is meant to create a reality where the violence inflicted on its signifier is imposed on the signified.

Parallel variations of this recipe are found in other manuscripts. In a single, Manuscript New York JTSL 8114 (second part, 12a-b), the slaughtering on the waterway is combined with further ritual actions, but the wording of the spell “as … so …” is missing:

To kill the enemy take a chosen cock and identify the cock after the enemy and raise it in your home twenty-one days and after that slaughter it, referring to its identify on the waterway and bury it by the river whereas aspiring to the enemy. And write this verse on a citron or on an apple, “those males that introduced up the evil report upon the land died” [Numbers 14:37] and so forth and prepare dinner it in vinegar and take it out from there and write on a deer parchment, so will the guts of N son of N fly away and die by the identify of Zaʽafiel, and tie it across the citron and bury the whole lot with the cock on the riverside and when the water rises it’s going to cover the grave and he will die.

Another parallel version is found in a manuscript from Kurdistan that Reginald Campbell Thompson purchased in Mossoul on the finish of the 19th century. There too, the slaughter is accompanied by further ritual acts:

Take a black cock and buy it at no matter worth they shall ask from you, and put it in the fowl-run by itself, and feed it and call it by the identify of the man you search, and it is best to say to it, eat you N son of N. Achieve this for nine consecutive days, and on the tenth convey it to the river and slaughter it there, and say, I’m slaughtering N son of N, in order that N son of N might die. As this cock was slaughtered and died so might N son of N die. And take two needles and thrust them in its heart, one lengthwise and the opposite breadthwise, and bury it getting ready to the river, and the enemy won’t full his yr, by God’s assist.

A white cock might serve many goals in Jewish magic follow (regardless of whether or not it’s slaughtered). For instance, Sefer ha-Razim recommends slaughtering a white cock to arouse passion; a Babylonian incantation bowl hints at the sacrifice of a white cock for oppressing and controlling others; an historic Genizah recipe commands the killing and burying of a cock to achieve sexual management over a lady; another Genizah recipe suggests giving a white cock mature wine in an effort to find a treasure; a ebook of recipes from Europe (Italian script, 17th century) suggests utilizing a white cock for finding a thief; and Sefer Raziel ha-Malakh suggests slaughtering a white cock as part of a ritual for bringing down rain. In any occasion, not one of the parallel versions of this recipe that have been noted above mentions a white cock. Two truly mention “a black cock,” while the third refers to a “chosen cock.”

Taking (or selecting, or shopping for) something “by the identify” of somebody means creating ab initio, ritually and intentionally, a concrete signifier-signified connection between the factor and the individual by whose identify it was taken. On this case, between the cock and Hitler. That is an instance of the regulation of similarity pointed out by James Frazer as one of the sympathetic rules underlying magic thought and motion. An specific expression of this precept is discovered within the wording of the formulation accompanying the slaughter: “As I slaughter this cock, so will Adolf Hitler be slaughtered.”

Raising the cock at house for 3 weeks is intended to deepen the identification of the cock with Hitler, strengthening it beyond the initial connection based on the selection of the cock “by his identify,” towards its remaining revelation in the wording that accompanies the slaughter. In the middle of these three weeks, the individual will recurrently point out the signifier-signified hyperlink in order to tighten the bond between them. We will simply imagine his angle toward “Hitler” the cock in his possession and the reversal of the emotions and the connection between them—from worry and humiliation to mastery and management. This reversal will assume its ultimate and absolute which means within the act of taking “Hitler’s” life and might be realized on the earth via the demise of Hitler “ruler of the Germans.”

Sacrifices—which means the ritual act of taking a life—are widespread in magic exercise, notably of the aggressive sort, and are already documented within the earliest Jewish magic treatises. The Guide of Mysteries (Sefer ha-Razim), for instance, suggests slaughtering a lion cub, slaughtering a grouse, and using the top of a black canine, whereas The Sword of Moses (Ḥarba de-Moshe) instructions slaughtering a cock. A cock is an out there animal, and relatively straightforward to slaughter (or kill in other ways). It’s in all probability because of this that it additionally serves in the only sacrifice ritual practiced in Judaism—the customized of kapparot (expiation) on the eve of the Day of Atonement. To the most effective of my information, fowl have been killed in the context of magic actions mainly so as to use their blood, whereas different animals have been killed with a purpose to use their limbs. Killing animals (often small and out there) as a part of the magic ritual is documented in many recipe books from the early trendy period.

Opposite to different recipes, the place water serves to collect the blood with a purpose to use it, here water receives and bears the blood. Clearly, then, it isn’t the blood as such that’s at the middle but the slaughter on the water. An important example of a ritual on the water in Jewish tradition is the Tashlikh apply on the first day of Rosh ha-Shanah. Jacob Lauterbach, who tied this follow to that of the kapparot, seen both as upshots of an historic apply that developed after the destruction of the Temple and the abolition of the ritual of sending the goat into the wilderness (Leviticus 16), whose essence was to deliver a ritual present to Devil and to the demonic entities that dwell in bodies of water. Echoing in this recipe may additionally be the notion of a sacrifice to Devil (siṭra’ ’aḥra’), whose concrete expression is the present of the blood in the water. This feature is particularly plausible in mild of the fact that Samael (which means Satan) is the one who was despatched to slaughter Hitler.

The performative method “as I slaughter this cock so will Adolf Hitler … be slaughtered,” which is meant to behave on the earth and create a actuality inside it is, as noted, the linguistic expression of the sympathetic precept underlying the whole act: as quickly because the cock was tied to Hitler and became one with him, slaughtering them both can also be one action. Many dangerous acts in Jewish magic literature are based mostly on this precept—they’re based on acts of violence that always (but not all the time) are imposed on a dwelling sufferer and end with the taking of its life.

(2) Second Appeal

This recipe does not require the taking of a life but demise continues to be present in it. The ritual’s elements are easy and quantity to the hiding of 11 holy names written on limestone in an previous grave. The setting of the writing and the burial is just not precisely defined. The gist of the act, on this version, is thus a joining of dying and the facility of the names by activating them for the purpose of killing Hitler. This function is explicitly communicated to the holy names which are required to behave.

One thing, nevertheless, might have gone amiss in this version. Two versions close to it explicitly require that the holy names be burnt on the stone before their burial and this was probably the intention of the current model as nicely. In these two versions, the writing’s setting is scripted much more precisely. In manuscript Geneva, Bibliothèque de Genève, Comites Latentes 145 (p. 327), someone wrote in one of the empty pages in Oriental script:

To destroy an enemy. He ought to write these names on limestone on the primary hour of the primary day and burn these names ‘NY’L LHBY’L ZRW‘Y’L ’BYH’L YQRY’L ‘LY’L T’WMY’L WHHY’L ’WRY’L ’DWNY’L SRPY’L seraphs stand above Him to destroy N son of N lemaher shalal ḥash baz and bury it in an previous grave.

A really shut version seems in one of the manuscripts that Thompson acquired in Mossoul. This recipe is slightly corrupted and reads as follows:

To destroy an enemy. He ought to write on the primary day at the third hour of the day on limestone, these names; and then let him burn the stone with these written [names] NM’L LHBY’L ZRW‘Y’L ’HBY’L YHRY’L MRY’L ’MY’L WHBY’L ’WRY’L SRPY’L Seraphs stand above Him, that you may destroy the enemy, N son of N lemaher shalal ḥash baz, or bury these names in an previous grave. And that is tested and environment friendly. End.

The burning motif is talked about in the recipe within the names of two angels—Lahaviel (angel of flame) and Saraphiel (angel of fireside)—and in addition within the verse cited from Isaiah (seraphs), and is clearly very important to the act recommended.

Based on the magic strategy that identifies the identify and the essence it’s tied to, the holy names will not be representations of heavenly entities but they are truly the entities-powers themselves. The burning of holy names, and notably those where God is current (in the el suffix) is an aggressive act and a provocation of heaven. The purpose of this act is probably to enrage the heavenly dwellers going up in flames and incite their revenge. This heavenly aggression, which the torcher-adjurer evokes by means of his acts, is what he seeks to channel to “dying” by way of burial in an previous grave in the path of Adolf Hitler. On this recipe, then, the letter representing the Hebrew conjunction was omitted and so is the component of violence towards heaven, which I maintain to be the very essence of all the act. Using graves shouldn’t be widespread in Jewish magic and serves primarily in two contexts: talking with the lifeless and harming others. Hiding the names in the grave is thus a part of structuring the aggressive which means (and consequence!) of the act, which begins with the burning of the holy names by means of the ritual-performative representation of its objective—the destruction of the enemy.

(Three) Third Appeal

In its character and performative precept, this recipe resembles the first one and indeed refers to it explicitly. Here too the act rests on a ritual violence that culminates within the taking of a life however the slaughter is changed by one other act of killing and the linguistic-performative formulation modifications accordingly. Hooked up to the primary look of the phrase “pot” [kederah] in the recipe (in line 17) is a particular article, testifying to something missing. The performer was in all probability presupposed to have carried out one thing with the cock and the pot earlier than the burial and that matter is omitted right here. The linguistic formulation suggests that the cock is put in a pot and buried inside it while nonetheless alive.

Hiding incantation writs and numerous objects within the mud (not necessarily in a grave) as part of their activation is pervasive in Jewish magic and serves quite a lot of goals. The hiding right here does assume the which means of a burial, and demise clings to it. The accompanying incantation attests that the burial of the cock “Hitler” represents the end result of your complete act and embodies the component of ritual violence as a consequence of which violence (and burial) may even enter the life of Hitler the man. The hiding within the mud is thus the actual killing of the cock, accompanied on this ritual by prolonged misery and ache.

The formulation “as I buried this cock so did I bury the evildoer Adolf Hitler,” as its parallel in the first appeal, is supposed to concretize the connection between the cock and Hitler created in the 9 days preceding the burial. The past tense exhibits that this sentence is supposed to be uttered after the burial and not in its course, as in the slaughtering. The sympathetic factor of the act is explicitly clarified within the accompanying linguistic formulation. This is the peak of the ritual and, provided that what the performer has in mind is Hitler’s dying slightly than his burial, we might assume that the cock’s burial is the precise violent act of its killing. The first and third charms, then, supply various choices for taking the life of “Hitler” the cock so as to kill Adolf Hitler “ruler of the Germans.”


This article is a concise and non-annotated model of Yuval Harari’s “Three Charms for Killing Adolf Hitler: Practical Kabbalah in WW2,” revealed in Aries: Journal for the Research of Western Esotericism 17 (2017), 171–214. We thank the editor and the publisher (Brill) for the permission to republish it here.

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