Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kabbalah, Mazal, and the Abuchatzeira affair

I am still out of the country visiting family so all that follows is strictly my own opinion, as I have not had the opportunity to speak with any major Rabbanim about this. First let me state that what Rav Elazar Abuchatzeira is accused of is very serious. I personally do not know if the accusations are true or false. It is clear that people gave him large sums of money, whether that was done with specific promises of reward is what is unclear. In the US a person is supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty, so for now, as I have not myself seen any evidence, I am going to remain neutral on his guilt or innocence.

Even if he did do what he is accused of, I doubt that it will be criminally prosecutable. On account of the US separation of Church and State, as well as numerous other factors, the case will very easily be made into a trial of religion and religious beliefs as well as the validity of certain religious claims. I am no lawyer, that is just my own personal assumption. My guess is that this will turn into a circus making Judaism look bad before this is all over.

On to the actual accusations. Again I am not implying either his guilt or innocence, I am strictly dealing with the "claims" he accused of having made. Simply speaking anyone making the claims that he is accused of having made, should be viewed as a charlatan. This is a mainstream Torah view, it was the view of Rav Kaduri, and it is the view of Rav Yaakov Hillel as he expounds in his book Faith and Folly.

First and foremost mekubalim through the ages have condemned the practice of "selling" spiritual remedies. In all of my time with Rav Kaduri, I never once saw him demand payment of any sort for prayers or segulot. If people would offer to pay him for a segula he would say, "Better that you give the money to tzedaka and ask HaShem in its merit for your need." Often people would try to pay him for prayers or segulot and he would always tell them that it was not necessary, specifically he would say, "Not necessary, not necessary better that you give to Tzedaka." Yes many people then put what they had wanted to give into the Yeshiva tzedaka box, however, he at least attempted make a distinction that he was not praying for them so that they would give him money. The Baba Sali, on several occasions was offered money to perform a segula/tikkun or to give a blessing, on every occasion he refused and threw the people out.

Secondly is the issue that has been brought up in numerous times in the news reports about influencing mazal. The Gemarra Shabbos 156a states, "Ain Mazal L'Yisrael", meaning that these things have no control over Yisrael as Jews are governed by Hashgaha pratit. I know that there is some back and forth in the Rishonim regarding this, however(and forgive me for not remembering the exact source) the Shulchan Aruch in Hilchot Avodah Zara quotes this exactly as halacha. Bearing in mind that Rav Yosef Karo was a talmid of both of the RaMaK and the AR"I, if there was any dissension about this thought, even among these great mekubalim, there would have been at least a Yeish Omrim. Meaning that there are other opinions, which while perhaps valid, are rejected by the Shulchan Aruch. For a full treatment as far as what we can look to mazal for see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 179. Even there it states only so that we may know what deficiencies in middot we are born with so that we may do the proper tikkunim within ourselves.

True mekubalim, true Kabbalists, have never sought monetary reward for even genuine segulot and tikkunim. True mekubalim strive to hold by every word(usually in the strictest manner) of the Shulchan Aruch. Therefore anyone who seeks monetary gain through hocus pocus which the Shulchan Aruch says does not affect the Jewish people is by all means a charlatan.

It is clear that there is a spiritual awakening of sorts taking place and that on account of that many people are drawn to spirituality. Within Judaism that is often Kabbalah. However, folk religion and superstition as well as actual chicanery is often passed off under the guise of Kabbalah. This is not something new, nor is it something for which the Rabbanim of the mekubalim were not prepared. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is thinking about consulting with a mekubal in any way over any issue first obtain a copy of Rav Yaakov Hillel's book Faith and Folly and read it several times. Its very purpose was to arm the average Jew with the necessary knowledge to be able to indentify charlatans and to steer clear.

I wish to reiterate that I am making no statements as to the guilt or innocence of Rav Elazar Abuchatzeira. I have not seen the evidence directly, and so I cannot say. My only point here was to definitively state that no true Kabbalist would ever do the things that he was accused of.


D said...

I know for a fact that rav Elazar Abuchatzeira is completely innocent of these crimes and is a huge Tzaddik. He has the same spiritual ability as his father the Baba Meir and the Baba Sali to look at a person and know everything about them. I know a first hand account of someone who was a terrible sinner (rasha)who went to see the Baba Elazar in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Baba Elazar greeted everyone that day for 6 hours. When this person came in to see the rav he took one look at the person and immediately put his head very far down, withdrew into himself and refused to even look at the person. He even embarrassed the person so that they would leave. It was obvious the Rav was suffering from the impurity from that persons sins. Now if the Rav did this while he was a guest in someone else's home it means all he cares about is doing Hashem's will and could care less about his own kavod. Now does that sound like a charlatan to you who just wants to take people's money??? Do you think the Rav would have this ability to know everything about a person with just one glance if he committed these serious crimes?? Give me a break. The Rav could care less about money as all the money he gets goes to tzeddaka. As for why he takes it? Great Tzaddikim see things that simple don't see and any fool who believes these accusations against the holy Rav does so out of complete ignorance.

mekubal said...


Thanks for sharing your personal knowledge of the affair. This post was simply to clarify that a mekubal would not do the things that he was accused of. I have no first hand knowledge of the incident.

My own proclivity is to say that he is innocent. He is a Jew after all and we Dan L'Kaf Zecut.

Do you think the Rav would have this ability to know everything about a person with just one glance if he committed these serious crimes??
Unfortunately we cannot judge people simply on their supernatural abilities. From the Torah we are told that a false prophet was either someone who made false supernatural claims, or someone who made true supernatural claims but lead the people away from Torah.

The reason that prophecy was sealed up by the men of the Great Assembly was for fear that the lessening generations would no longer be able to discern the true from the false, and thus we are left only with Ba'ali Ruach HaKodesh. However, where ever there is the real there is also the counterfeit. The only way to discern one from another is their adherence to Torah.

Personally I believe that Rav Elazar is innocent of these charges. If it proves otherwise Oy Lanu, and Baruch HaShem that we found out.

staff said...

did not find ein mazel lisroel in choulchan oruch

mekubal said...

I will post the source once I am back to my books.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

When ‘dayyanim’ and ‘rabbis’ use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this behaviour is utterly abhorrent.

No other ‘rabbi’ will ever act against another ‘rabbi’ - even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

Therefore, the ‘rabbi’ and ‘dayan’ will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Am Yisrael can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

A further word of advice regarding those who masquerade as a ‘dayan’ ‘rabbi’ or false ‘mekubal’:

1. These men may knowingly and willingly, deliberately deceive a Jew or Jewess. e.g. in the area of shidduchim, or offering to perform a ‘pidyon nefesh’.

This abhorrent and deceptive behaviour has caused tremendous harm to people who are innocent and trusting.

2. Do not ever ‘kiss the hands’ of these men (which they might offer to you in public).

3. And do not be duped into queuing and waiting, to see them for their ‘brachot’ (‘blessings’). They peddle ‘brachot’ purely for their own selfish gratification and ‘kavod’ (‘honour’).

Their duplicitous behaviour is nothing short of deception and cunning. In short they are abhorant and causing so much harm to amm israel. They prey on the vulnerable, and those who are naïve, unsuspecting and trusting of these pedlars.

mekubal said...

I have published this last comment unedited, but as a warning you are starting to push out too far. I see that you have a lot of anger at wrongs whether real or perceived, but if you want to continue to post on this blog, you need to tone back your anger a few notches and come up with something more constructive.