Curses, I reasoned, were a misuse and distortion of religious practice.
Curses invoked before the Rabin assassination changed my mind about that. Prior to that tragic event, on the eve of Yom Kippur, a group of "Kabbalists" intoned the pulsa curse outside the Rabin residence. Once again, in the summer of 2005, another group gathered to invoke the curse against P.M. Ariel Sharon. It seemed to me that curses indeed were part of our religion - like it or not.
One blogger, Canonist, dealt briefly with the curse back in July 2005, complete with a link to the video of the curse "ceremony" and quotations from learned professors:
Praying for Ariel Sharon's DeathErudite rabbis have written about the matter, explaining that magic is not a part of Judaism, as in the following:
Yesterday's death-curse seems thus far to have gone unanswered by the Almighty, but we'll see. Generally speaking, I don't write much about Israel and the disengagement, but this latest is quite interesting. PaleoJudaica's got a great roundup, including descriptions of the pulsa de-nura ceremony, its detractors, and the threat of prosecution that've come out of it. Meantime, you can actually watch the ceremony in this video, which, with a bunch of people in sweats reading from photocopies, looks oddly like some run-of-the-mill Jewish ceremony, like burning chametz or somesuch. The video comes courtesy of Samuel Heilman, via a listserv to which he wrote, with the subject "Jewish Jihadists": "Lest any of you think that only Islamists have jihadists, see the video below in which so-called 'religious Jews' pray for Prime Minister Sharon's Death in a Pulsa De Nura." Bold words on both sides. Let's see what comes of them.
The Pulsa D'Nora: The Tongue of Fire Curse Placed Upon the Wicked by Rabbi Ariel Bar TzadokYou can view the text of the curse here: http://www.koshertorah.com/PDF/pulsa.pdf.
In recent days there has been talk coming out of Israel of placing a certain Kabbalistic curse, upon the nations' Prime Minister. Known as the ominous Pulsa D'Nora, the Tongue of Fire curse of death, one Rabbi claims he is willing to perform this ceremony to influence Israeli governmental decisions, the details of which are well documented in the media and we have no reason to delve into here. The secular interests in government and in Israeli society in general seek to have the Rabbi investigated by the police and charged with incitement of violence against government officials.
The secular interests claim to have good reason for their concerns. It has been said that on the Rosh HaShana prior to the late Yitzhak Rabin's assassination that a Kabbalist or group of them placed a similar curse upon him. However, as political events unfolded in Israel in the days after Rabin's assassination, it became clear that what happened to the Prime Minister had no source or connection to anything in Kabbalah or to any mystical curse whatsoever. Whether or not the Pulsa D'Nora curse was placed on Rabin is of no matter. It is clear that it played no part whatsoever in his fate.
In light of this, whether or not an Israeli Rabbi places such a curse upon the present Prime Minister is also of no matter. It will be a futile effort, one which is certainly not worthy of media attention or the notice of secular interests. But in Israel, paranoia runs deep and people are often afraid of things they shouldn't be.
In order to contribute to the alleviation of this present concern, I believe it is in the public interest to expose the Pulsa D'Nora curse for what it truly is, how it works, and when it is legitimately supposed to be used.
With all the notoriety the Pulsa D'Nora receives one might assume that the order and ceremony of this ancient ritual is well known and readily available in certain Kabbalistic texts. This is by no means the case. Actually, of the hundreds, if not thousands of Kabbalah books available in print today not one of them contains a formula for the Pulsa D'Nora curse ritual. Therefore, unless one has received an oral transmission on how it is to be performed, no one knows how to do it, in spite of all claims to the opposite.
The Pulsa D'Nora has wrongfully been associated with a certain school of Kabbalah known as Kabbalah Ma'asit (magic). The Pulsa D'Nora is not a magical formula. Torah and Judaism have no connection to or tolerance of magic in any form. Therefore, the consideration of anything in holy Kabbalah, an integral part of HaShem's Torah from Sinai to have any ties to magic is a spurious and offensive suggestion.
The Pulsa D'Nora is actually not a "curse of death" as many mistakenly believe. No Rabbi or Kabbalist has the right or authority to curse another to death. In accordance to Torah Law, the only way a Jew is put to death is for violation of specific Biblical laws and then only after being tried and condemned by a kosher and authoritative Sanhedrin, the likes of which have not existed in Israel and among the Jewish people since the days of the Temple.
The Pulsa D'Nora was formatted actually as a last line of resort when all semblances of human justice fail to protect the Jewish people. The Pulsa D'Nora actually is a set of prayers asking HaShem to judge an individual who is deemed evil and a danger to the Jewish people but is outside the realm of human justice to punish.
The Rabbi or Kabbalist leading the minyan performing the ceremony asks HaShem to judge the soul of the individual in question and if he is found wanting, that HaShem should judge him and remove said soul from being a continued threat and danger to the Jewish people. In essence the Pulsa D'Nora is nothing more that a desperate cry of help to G-d. One who believes in the power of prayer will be impressed with this. One who does not believe in the power of prayer will ignore the Pulsa as such a one would ignore all other prayer. The power of the Pulsa lies more in the anguish of those suffering under the hand of the unreachable wicked one than in the ceremony itself. The ceremony only gives form and expression to the people's suffering. It is up to G-d to judge, for no human being has the authority to play G-d.
It has been said, however, that the Pulsa D'Nora is not to be taken lightly. The ceremony does include the recitation of certain Holy Names. This itself is a sacred undertaking. It is said that when one approaches the Heavenly Court to judge the soul of the accused wicked one, the first one examined by the Heavenly Court is the petitioner. If the one seeking justice is himself not just and righteous, then the Pulsa can turn on his own head. It will be the petitioner who will meets his fate instead of the one who stands accused. For this reason, using the Pulsa D'Nora is a dangerous thing, for who can stand before the Heavenly Court and proclaim oneself to be righteous and just. Often the petitioning Rabbi will offer his own life as atonement for offering the Pulsa D'Nora prayers just so that the Heavenly Court will address the issue of the wicked one who is the subject of the Pulsa.
All of this might sound fearful to some and foolish to others. It is up to each and every individual to judge for themselves whether or not they wish to ascribe power and legitimacy to the Pulsa D'Nora. I have only documented what there is to be known about it. In light of current events it is important that we dispel myth and reveal facts. Only in this way can we ever hope to find true peace and unity among the Jewish people.
In order to make this essay complete, I will now produce the entire formula of the Pulsa D'Nora ceremony in its original Hebrew. Due to the nature of this material it is not suitable for translation.
(repost revised from 11/05)