Sunday, July 31, 2011

On the Death of Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira

I am greatly perturbed by the murder of Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira, the grandson of the famed 20th century Kabbalist Baba Sali, even more so when I learned of the motive behind the murder. As it is, a lot of controversy has been surrounding the Rabbi over the last year, and I have been reflecting on the role this might have played in his murder. He was basically accused of charging exhorbitant fees for spiritual services rendered. Now, I am perfectly aware that there is a powerful religious faction out there who condemns anyone receiving any reward for segulot, etc. This simply does not make sense to me in a world where you have to "earn your keep," and where you need cold hard cash to keep body and soul together. Personally speaking, my only objection is against those who are fleecing their clients, and in this regard it was said that the Rabbi was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a very gullible public, who were buying into his "supersitious promises." Critics called it "a hair raising tale," and accused the Rabbi of being a swindler.
Having been on the most beneficial receiving end of Segulot and Kameot, I am disinclined to glibly dismiss such items as being superstitious nonsense. This notwithstanding, I certainly would not condone robbing the poor of their hard earned money, and this would seem to be the major issue at play here. One ultra-Orthodox resident of Brooklyn, Menachem Ellowich, maintained his daughter died because Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira "cursed" her, and he stated "the day my daughter died, I decided to bury him," and that since "he cannot get the rabbi convicted of manslaughter, at least he wants to get back the $100,000 he paid for the blessing that would end his daughter's barrenness." The subsequent tale of the excursion(s) of Menachem Ellowich and others to the Rabbi is a convoluted one, in which accusations and counter accusations have been flying in all directions. As it is, believing with every fibre of my being in the process of "self creation," i.e. that all humans are constantly creating their own personal life circumstances, it appears to me that the "reality" which the Rabbi had been "living" in recent years, and was seemingly unable to recognize or change, had turned into a roller coaster ride leading to a tragic inevitability.
Now, "realities" do have a tendency of being "reinterpreted" with hindsight. Subsequent to the funeral of Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira, a headline read "Rabbi Abuhatzeira Bore the Burden of Evil Decrees," and the subheading continued "Rabbi Abuhatzeira saved the people of Israel from evil decrees through his brutal death, leading rabbis say." The brother of the deceased affirmed that "harsh punishments were decreed on the people of Israel, and he wanted to nullify them," and continued "as he nullified many harsh decrees for us.....We ask you, Rabbi Elazar: go before the Throne of Glory and pray there for the people of Israel. Pray for the entire family. Pray for your sons, your daughters, your grandchildren and wife." How very curious! According to all reliable sources, he was slayed by a frequent visitor, Asher Dahan, a 42 year old resident of the Haredi city of Elad, who was constantly seeking blessings and advise from the Rabbi, and whose motive is reported to have been solely "that Abuhatzeira had failed to solve his marital problems." Now, did we not hear similar sentiments expressed by his every growing list of detractors around the globe?
Underlying this situation is a most serious matter. Firstly, whilst one may employ special spiritual techniques and practices in support of ones aim to solve problematic situations, i.e. a failing marriage, I believe the fundamental failure here is recognition, or at least the instruction of the "disappointed killer," of the necessity to change the "obstacles" within himself which lead to the failing of his marriage in the first place. It is no good to simply lay the blame squarely at the feet of your life partner. The witty May West was perfectly right in claiming that "it takes two to get one into trouble"! Secondly, I believe the major dilemma are in fact these "Tzadikim" who set themselves up on a pedestal of self-aggrandisement. Their perceived "infallibility" is placing them so way beyond criticism and the recognition of their fallibility as beings of flesh and blood, that they are being viewed by their compatiots as being virtually the "mouthpiece" of the Divine One on earth, if not the very incarnations of the Almighty in person.....God forbid!
It is always "I will heal you"! "I will solve your marriage problems"! When will they realise that you can no more live anyone else’s life for them than you can eat or defecate for them? Again, don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in the traditions of "Practical Kabbalah," however, what I find fundamentally flawed is the cultivation of total reliance on the person of the Tzadik to solve all life problems. Most people are unable, or even unwilling, to work changes within their own beings, i.e. establishing the right mindset which would afford at least the possibility for a lasting implementation of the new "reality" they seek. Instead they would expect a Tzadik, especially one who is a "mini-Messiah," to "do it" for them. This is extremely dangerous, and all would-be "Tzadikim" should take careful note that if they dare allow this to continue, there is bound to be more incidents akin to this sorry saga of the now "martyred" Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Research Workshop: Maps of the Divine

It is with great interest that I noted the recent "research workshop" titled "Text & Image in Religious Cosmography: Reading Ilanot and Parallel Artifacts" which was held over the last three days under the auspices of the University of Haifa. This one is of great personal interest since it dealt with the "Kabbalistic Divinity Maps," i.e. the diagrams of the sefirotic tree found in Kabbalistic literature, which is commonly called the "Tree of Life."
As it is there are two interesting video links on this workshop website. The first titled "It's good to see the King" offers a brief overview into the history of the sefirotic tree by Dr. Yossi Chajes, whilst the second is a YouTube video in which Dr. Chajes discusses "the divinity maps in the seventeenth-century Latin work Kabbalah Denudata" by Knorr von Rosenroth. At the bottom of the webpage there is also a link to "selected images of Ilanot (Kabbalistic divinity maps)" which is worth perusing. You can access the site directly at:
Members interested in this topic might also want to peruse Dr. Chajes' collection of photographic images of the "Musayef Ilanot" which can be viewed on:

What Exactly Comprises Practical Kabbalah?

I have been queried regarding what exactly comprises "Practical Kabbalah." My personal stance is that the expression "Practical Kabbalah" incorporates a lot more than simply "magical applications," such as those addressed in my "Book of Sacred Names." Besides these, I personally include:
1. meditational techniques like those of Abraham Abulafia, as well as the Kavvanot and Yichudim of Lurianic Kabbalah, the Tzerufim of Albotini, and the many kabbalistic practices which Aryeh Kaplan, amongst others, listed in "Meditation and Kabbalah," etc.;
2. worshipful invocations and prayers such as those found in Kabbalistic Siddurim (prayer books), etc.;
3. practical applications of the ten sefirot, the latter having been termed "the spiritual energies of Mind and Emotion" by Rabbi Laibl Wolf in his book "Practical Kabbalah," and of which there are a number of wonderful and well-known "practical" studies such as those by my late mentor, William G. Gray, or the more recent very innovative and equally well written "The Miracle Tree: Demystifying the Qabalah" by R.J. Stewart, etc.
There is probably a lot more to add to this list. Whatever the case may be, I personally believe that ALL practical applications of Kabbalistic doctrines, pertain to what is collectively termed "Practical Kabbalah."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Image on the Cover: "Universal Shiviti Amulet" - Part 9

G. Positioned External to and Within the Centre of the Magen David Complex:
1. - Yohach Kalach
Final letters of the words of Psalm 91:11
ki mal'achav y'tzaveh lach lishmorcha b'chol d'rachecha
"For He will give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
2. Six Archangels within the Magen David Complex aligned with the three repetitions of Yohach Kalach
H. Central Magen David
1. - Taftafyah
Letters positioned in the corner triangles of the hexagram.
This Divine Name is composed of the first two letters of verses 69, 70 and 76 of Psalm 119 which read:
(verse 69) Taf'lu alai sheker zeidim ani b'chol lev etzor pikudecha.
(verse 70) Tafash kachelev libam ani torat’cha shi'asha'e'ti.
(verse 76) Y'hi na chasd'cha l'nachameini k'imratecha l'avdecha.
(verse 69) "The proud have forged a lie against me; but I with my whole heart will keep Thy precepts."
(verse 70) "Their heart is gross like fat; but I delight in Thy law."
(verse 76) "Let, I pray Thee, Thy lovingkindness be ready to comfort me, according to Thy promise unto Thy servant."
2. - Shadai
The Universal Shiviti Kame'a concludes with the powerful Divine Name Shadai in its very centre.
(The End)

The Image on the Cover: "Universal Shiviti Amulet" - Part 8

F. Central Magen David Complex cont.:
2. The Name of Seventy-Two Names cont.
(More to follow)

The Image on the Cover: "Universal Shiviti Amulet" - Part 7

F. Central Magen David Complex cont.:
2. The Name of Seventy-Two Names cont.
(More to follow)

The Image on the Cover: "Universal Shiviti Amulet" - Part 6

F. Central Magen David Complex cont.:
2. The Name of Seventy-Two Names cont.
(More to follow)