Kabbalists of 16
th -17th Century Tzefat and Jerusalem
1 Revealed on a Forehead
How the extraordinary
sixteenth century kabbalist,
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the “holy Ari” of Tzefat,
could tell everything about a person by gazing at his forehead! And how
reluctant he was to divulge such gleanings.
2 In Defense of Elijah
Did you know that the
world-famous kabbalists and rabbinic authorities in 16
Tzefat all deferred to
Rabbi Moshe Alsheich as the master of scriptural
interpretation? And that he once defended the honor of Elijah the Prophet at
great personal expense? And that the two are causally connected?
3 A Delicious Offering
Can there possibly be
Show-Bread offerings 1500 years after the destruction of the Holy Temple? And
the Al-mighty Himself consumes them? The
oly Ari’s dread pronouncement to another 16th century
Tzefat rabbi’s fatal words.
“You Jews better do
something to end this life-threatening draught or I will expel every last one
of you from Jerusalem,” said the Turkish ruler to
Rabbi Moshe Galante II.
Chasidic Masters: 1
st three generations 1734-1815
5 Happy Birthday!
How the key to financial
salvation for a Jewish man in crushing debt can be simply to listen to his
wife’s advice. And how the Baal Shem Tov was able to help people in mysterious,
uncanny ways, even when they didn’t believe in his holiness and powers.
How can it be that even
though he lived in
Mezritch, he never once went to visit “the Great
! And how can it be that one can be south and north at the same time!
7 Popular Names
Why did the Baal Shem
not give them the blessing they so desperately sought? What happens to
a childless couple after 120? Why take them to a distant village and quiz the
8 The Forest and the Rose
A mysterious journey of the
Leib Sarah’s. The discovery of a special soul in an
orphan boy goat herder. The liberation of sparks from the holy Temple in the
Kaliver Rebbe’s song.
9 To See the Rebbe’s Face
The Rebbe screams for extra
light in the Study Hall; the chasid of Rabbi Menachem-Mendel of Vitebsk gets
lost in the forest; the secret shining house and the master record books.
10 “Enough Already!”
How the major supporter of Rebbe Nachum of Chernobyl turned into his biggest enemy. How his son and
Mottel of Chernobyl
, showed no
sympathy for his servant suffering terribly from psoriasis. How the two are
11 Double Treatment
A great scholar learns that
when one is seriously ill, he should 1) listen to his mother; 2) follow
completely the advice of both holy brothers: the
Rebbes Elimelech and Zusha.
12 Beginner's Luck
did it have to be that the obvious decision
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak would
have to issue in his very first court case in
Berdichev would make him
an object of derision in his new city? A three-generation saga.
13 Special Delivery
Wherein is revealed the
secret that one of the few things better than receiving good news is receiving
that good news quickly, and how love becomes transmuted into blessing.
14 Crossroad Puzzle
The puzzling travel decisions of the Seer of
Lublin; the Shabbat host who had no food; the secretive boy in the forest.
15 What You See is What You Get
What advice could the Apter
possibly give to a Jew who with one glance could detect another
Jew’s most intimate secrets and hidden sins?
16 The Joker’s Shabbat
What happens when a 24/7
comedian suddenly turns serious. What happens when one’s weekday lifestyle is
in conflict with one’s Shabbat persona. How the
Be’er Mayim Chaim
acquired an unexpected disciple.
Chasidic Masters: the 2
nd hundred years 1820-1920
17 Forty Days and Forty Nights
A perplexed Kabbalist; Rebbe
Yisrael of Rhyzhin
and his team of white horses; why Elijah the Prophet
never showed up.
18 Yaakov the Innocent
Trouble in Heaven because
he only forgave two years’ rent! The
Tzemek Tzedek to his Chasidim:
“Choose between Gehinom (Purgatory) and reincarnation!”
19 The Onion Plot
Can there possibly be
Shabbos without' ‘
(mixture of chopped eggs and onions)? Would Rabbi Naftali of Rophshitz
succeed in finding a solution? How could such a coarse Gentile peasant gain
access to the private room of the
Seer of Lublin?
20 An All-Purpose Kaddish
A plucky widow in
Pressburg, five unmarried orphan daughters, a mysterious benefactor, a fainting
bank manager, a frightening dream.
21 The Most Desirable Apples
How to discern an excellent
quality apple. Hands-on help from the
Divrei Chaim of Sanz.
22 The Farmer Method
What happened when rabbis
in Jerusalem decreed an extra fast day but didn’t send word to the country
folk, including a farmer who can’t keep straight what to pray each day.
23 A Surgical Procedure
Do you want to know what
Belzer Rebbe thought about while on the operating table? Andhat
caused the surgeon’s face to turn frost white then beet red.
24 Silence Speaks
Why did Rabbi Ysrael of
go uninvited into the home of the Reform Jew? Why did he sitt here
in silence? Why did the bank manager follow the Rebbe home? Who didn’t sleep
25 “Him–-Not Him”
How an old-fashioned
yeshiva student amazed the professors in Petersburg, and how the professors
surprised the Jewish prodigy, and how the
Rebbe Reshab was more
knowledgeable than all of them.
Part D. 20th
Century: Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes world-wide
26 A Soul’s Scream
A thrilling escape from a Concentration
Camp. But how could it be that a non-religious Jew with a non-Jewish father had
more honed Jewish instinct than the most religious of the other escapees?
27 Silence Speaks
Living in fear in the
Warsaw Ghetto. A little Jewish girl braves the streets. Arrest-Salvation-Deal Breaker.
28 A Reserved Chair
Why did the Rebbe Rayatz
want him to make the long subway ride from the Bronx to Brooklyn again so soon?
And if he likes the synagogue, why care about its caretaker? And how can a
synagogue be a butcher shop?
29 Rotten Seeds
The unexpected scarcity of
seed for the year after the Sabbath of the Land. The unexpected result of the
unexpected scarcity. The unexpected judicial decision of
30 The Tenth Man
A most remarkable aerogram from
the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Moshav, the spring and the factory; the
plane, the bus and the taxi. But what’s in those sugar cubes?
31 Don’t Be Surprised
What and why the translator
Nadvorna Rebbe of Tzefat refused to translate. How going against
his advice turned out to be complying. Why there was no reason to be surprised.
32 Slaps of Love
A life-changing tour of
Jerusalem. How Rabbi Moshe Weber dealt with a Jewish man who wanted to marry a
non-Jewish woman, and how they met again in Pittsburgh.
33 Tied Up
A dream about the Lubavitcher
and neckties. Do Chasidim wear them? If not, why not? If yes, what
kind? The opinion of a fierce Jewish lawyer.