Wednesday, July 7, 2021

New Book! Commentary on Rabbi Kaduri's "Sefer Kedushat Yitzchak"

 You may have noticed it's been a few months from my last post on the blog. I've been working on a new book which I am pleased to announce has just been published!

To understand this new book, let's first discuss perhaps one of the  greatest master Kabbalists who died in our lifetimes: Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri. Rabbi Kaduri, born around 1898 in Baghdad, Iraq and died in Israel in 2006 was a Rabbi and Kabbalist par excellence of our generation. Rabbi Kaduri would often give blessings and write amulets based on the traditions he learned from his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Fatiyah (Baghdad,  1859–1942,Israel) who was likewise a master of Kabbalah and the traditions of how to make amulets. He also had preformed many exorcisms which he recorded the fascinating details of the events in his book Sefer Beit Lechem Yehudah. In turn, Rabbi Fatiyah was a student of the master kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Hayyim (Baghdad, 1835-1909). The list can keep going.... In short, Rabbi Kaduri comes from a long line of guardians of the secrets of Kabbalah. 

Rabbi Kaduri did not publish his writings during his lifetime. One of his main students, Rabbi 'adas printed a facsimile copy of Kaduri's practical kabbalah manuscripts entitled "Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak". This is a mammoth (six volumes!!) collection of amulets, incantations, meditations and all sorts of esoteric knowledge. The printing was slightly censored, leaving some of the sections out. I have been recently very privileged and honored to have had access to the original uncensored copies. 

As I read and learned  through the material I began to take notes for myself. I had no intent on publishing this as I wrote, but by the time I was finished, I felt once I had done all this research and work to write a commentary on the Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak it would be a shame not to share it with others. (In fact, it's considered the right thing to do to share one's Torah thoughts with others). Thus, with the blessings of the Rabbi who had given me access to the manuscripts, I went ahead in publishing my commentary.

 Unlike my previous two books which I published as either the original Hebrew with English translation or just the English translation, this new work of mine is published just in the original Hebrew. Rabbi Kaduri was personally against translating Kabbalistic treatises (a lot of Kabbalah uses specific terminology that can be either hard to translate what the message is trying to be conveyed or possibly misunderstood. I'm not saying it's impossible to translate Kabbalistic books from Hebrew, but  at times it's certainly more complicated that regular literature). As my commentary is directly on his book, I will be respecting his wishes and leave it in the original Hebrew. A lot of my commentary also cross-references to other kabbalistic treatises which aren't in translation either so it wouldn't be very useful if one can't read Hebrew anyway. That said, if you can read Hebrew, then you'll definitely want to pick up a copy for yourself!  Also, I've included at the end my treatise (in Hebrew) on kabbalistic rings, Behold With This Ring with the source material as a bonus.

Link to purchase the book on Amazon: HERE  

Here's some pictures from the book....

Title Page
Excerpts from the Kabbalistic manuscripts Sefer Kedushat Yitzhak of Rabbi Yizthak Kaduri with commentary by Rabbi Yosef M. Cohen.

pages 8-9. A variety of different recipes. bottom of p. 8-top of p. 9 how to invoke the prince of wine to make wine flow out of a wall by sticking a sword in the wall then pulling it out

For a dream query from the dead using an adjuration to, among others, Dumah the overseer of the dead (he's names in the image on the left) 

A discussion contrasting the preparation and Divine Names of the pentacle of Mars to ward of demons found in Rabbi Kaduri's mss. to that of the version found in the Key of Solomon

Hope you find this new book to be helpful in your studies in Kabbalah and spiritual journey......

.....but thy eyes shall see thy teacher (Isaiah 30:20)

Monday, March 22, 2021

Of Mice and Magic


The Jewish holiday of Passover is fast approaching and with it comes the cleaning of ones house and belongings of any bread or leaven food. Back in the day, the possibility of mice or other vermin moving around crumbs was a real concern and is one of the first discussions in the Talmud tractate of Pesahim (which deals with the laws of Passover). 

What about magically keeping mice away? Is there any practical kabbalah to keep those pesky varmints away? Lets take a look....

Rabbi Chaim Vital in his personal notebook of kabbalah known as Sefer HaPeulot does indeed have a solution. In section 4:4 #203 we find the following:

To remove mice from the house: Write these four shapes of mice on uncooked pottery vessels and place in the four corners of the house. Over the first one say: "Leave this house and never return forever!". Over the second one say: "Mice! Mice! Leave this house with the secret that God created you, and return not henceforth." Over the third say: "Mice! Mice! Leave this house and do not return to it from this day till the day of the resurrection of the dead.". Over the fourth say: "Mice! Mice! Make haste, not one of you may remain in this house! Quickly! Quickly!"

Sefer HaPeulot of Rabbi Chaim Vital. Fol. 95b

I'll also mention he quotes this formula in the name of "Rabbi Nathanel". I don't know who he is referring to.

We find one more example of magical pest control on fol. 52b in mss. Cod. Heb. 214 (Bayerische StaatsBibliothek). 

Tilsam [Arabic, Talisman] To send away the mice: Engrave these shapes [i.e. the sigils] on a red copper foil when the face of Leo rises for the first time. And these shapes are from the stars (?). Place it in the place that you wish and then the mice will flee from that location.

This one involves the engraving of three sigils on a reddish copper foil during a astrologically significant time ("face of Leo"). Unfortunately there are few words I can't make out (as of now) where I left the question mark. 

Bayerische StaatsBibliothek  Cod. Heb. 214, fol. 52b

But wait, I have one more "amulet" against mice to share:

This is a picture of the Krerestir Rebbe, Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner (1852-1925). This Hasidic rebbe of Hungary was considered a miracle worker amongst his followers. The story goes something like this: Someone complained to the Rebbe that mice were ruining his granary and Rabbi Steiner told him to tell the mice in his name to leave right away, which they did. After that incident, some Hungarian Jews decided to keep a picture of the Rebbe in their house as a charm against mice!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Coffee Time! Summoning the Princes of Coffee: A Purim Parody

 Summoning the Princes of Coffee: A Purim Parody

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the events recorded in the biblical book of Esther. It is a holiday of great merriment, traditionally with the wearing of costumes, feasting and the drinking of wine. Some medieval rabbis wrote short parodies of the Talmud, using the same language and style to create funny "spoofs", often involving discussions of drinking wine from silly names like "rabbi wine", "rabbi beer" and "rabbi barrel" for example. This got me thinking, wouldn't it be fun to recreate a magical adjuration as a parody as well?  There are many adjurations for demonic princes over various reflective surfaces, why not coffee?!  Although this blog is a serious blog on magical topics, I've decided, in the Purim holiday spirit, to compose an adjuration over the "princes of coffee" in Hebrew with an English translation!  Enjoy! 

Using freshly brewed coffee, take a black handled spoon and recite the following incantation over the cup of coffee while stirring the cup: 

O Princes of Coffee, I adjure thee, Coffeiel, Caffeineiel, Arabicaiel and Robustael to answer my question. Answer me with the full strength of the caffeine in this cup and not in prevarication  as the decaffeinated demons of falsehood are wont to do. 

Gaze into the cup and Princes will answer your question. Then, bade them farewell and say: "Go in peace, as it is written my cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5)."

One may add some milk and sugar, but one who adds too much angers the Princes of Coffee and puts his life in danger [lit. his blood is on his head].

שרי קפה
על  כוס קפה מבושל חדש קח כף עם קתא שחורה ואמר זה הלחש על הכוס של קפה בשעת ערבוב הכוס עם הכף 
שרי קפה הרי משביע אני עליך קופהיאל קפאיניאל ערביקהיאל רובוסטהיאל לתרץ שאלאתי. ענני בכח העוצמה של הקפאין בכוס זו ולא בכזב כמו שעושים שדי הנטול
הסתכל בתוך הכוס והשרים מתרץ שאלתך. אחר כך שלח להם בשלום ואומר להם לך  צאתכם לשלום כמו שכתוב כוסי רויה
ואפשר להוסף קצת חלב וסוכר אבל מי שמוסיף יותר מדי מכעיס את שרי הקפה ודמו על ראשו

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Magic use of Wells and Communicating with Gigantic Spiritual Beings

Magic use of Wells and Communicating with Gigantic Spiritual Beings

There are many methods for trying to access information via magical means. In this post, I'll be sharing two interesting ways of getting in communication with gigantic spiritual entities by use of water wells! This is something I have so far not found in any of my research and studies thus far. 

Both follow the same set of concepts: 1. A well of water 2. The placing of a piece of pottery with magical names and sigils into it while no one else is around. 3. The appearance of seven giant "spiritual entities" that will answer your questions.  The only main difference (besides for what exactly is to be written on the pottery is that the second segment can only be done at night. What or who these seven giants are is not explained.

Both operations are found together on the same page of the manuscript. The entire manuscript, from the Moussaief Collection ms. #1222, has been digitally scanned and available here:

In addition to translating each segment below, I also typed the names in an enhanced image of each part to make it easier to read. 

To preform a question from a well: Write this seal on new pottery and place it in a well of fresh water. [You are to] preform this alone. Immediately seven exceedingly tall men will come to you. Do not be afraid of them and inquire of them all that you wish [to know]. They will reply truthfully. Afterwards, tell them they should go on their way [back] to their place in peace. This is the shape of the seal and you should write thus:

To preform a question from a well: Write these names and drop them into a well of water when you are alone at night. Immediately seven tall men will come. Do not fear them  and inquire of them all that you wish [to know]. They will reply very clearly without fear. And these are them [i.e. the names]:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

European Influences on Jewish Magic


European Influences on Jewish Magic

At times, the transmission of different magical traditions blur as information is shared between cultures. In this post, I will highlight just a few examples of gentile European influences that found it's way into  Jewish magical manuscripts. 

The first three example comes from a 16th/17th cent. mss. in cursive Ashkenazi script.

Bar-Ilan University Library, Israel Ms. 1053 fol. 92

For love between man and his wife: write on virgin parchment these names in the gentile language: halgo algat algario algar marib

For h'[atred]: write on a piece of tin his and her name and place under the doorway of the house. They both need to pass under it. eny rox [or cox? followed by several sigils]

In order that he not perform [sexually?]: Take an  and divide it in two. On one half write his and her name,  and on the other [half write] these names: qura cana Biari nas rper spern sensiem 

In all three examples I'm not sure if the words are nomina barbaria or actually mean something. Have a suggestion? Please leave a comment!

Moving on to the next manuscript, this one from the 18th cent. in an Italian script, we find the following:

Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, Ms. 8822 Fol. 71a

Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, Ms. 8822 Fol. 71b

To cause hail to stop: Make this shape [see the magic circle image in the manuscript] on the ground and thrust a knife in the middle of the line opposite the cloud. One needs to use a knife with a white handle to make the circle and to thrust in the ground. Hail will not fall within the boundary of the line.

[Protection] against a sword: Write [these names] on the edge of the sword. When your enemy is struck with this sword it will appear to them as a tower on their shoulders. Afrecs Afres sabeot [see the image in the manuscript].

For sickness [or weakness?] of the thighs: Write this on the crosta of bread [crosta קרוסטא is Italian for crust] and eat for three mornings. So shall you do for three mornings like this: Mifac tefac tefac Mifac [see the image in the manuscript].

This next one is an incantation to heal burns. It's found in a manuscript entitled Etz HaChayyim ("Tree of Knowledge") by Elisha ben Gad of Ancona (written in Safed, 1535-1536). 

British Library, Or 12362, f. 41r

The British Library discussed this mss. on their blog and translated a few spells and amulets. This one was likewise translated and I quote directly from that blog for this translation. It's Italian written in Hebrew letters. For those interested in reading the British Library blogpost, you can find it HERE.

Here is from their blog:

A wonderful incantation, tried and tested many times. For small and big burns. With these words complete recovery without pain! Say these names [i.e. the incantation] seven times:

Agrifuk agrifar agripyri chi vol tu fer di pyro nocesti di acaro fosti generato, e elo fonti fosti portato, all'acqua fosti gettato, non fossi far più male qua (?) chi fai la!

And then blow on the burn with the breath of your mouth and repeat again the incantation seven more times, and the fire will not damage him.

"Agrifuk agrifar agripyri whom did you want to hurt with fire? You were generated from an acarus [probably from Greek akarḗs, meaning “tiny”), you were brought forth from such a source, [and] you were thrown into the water. You cannot do any more harm...!"

End quote from their blog. Now, on to another Italian incantation!

In the last  source for this post, I have found in Rabbi Chayim Vital's handwritten manuscript known as "Sefer HaPeulot" an incantation for some sort of fever in Italian. This is an exceptionally interesting incantation as it is the only one I have found that involves a knife (athame) with a black handle along with it.  

The "Sefer HaPeulot" mss. fol 54a column 1

The last of the incantation continues onto column 2 on the page

The incantation wording is written in Hebrew letters yet it was obvious to me that it was either Latin, Italian or some similar language/dialect. Many are unaware that even though Chayim Vital lived in Israel, his parents were Italian expats from Calabria, South Italy. He himself latter in life was Rabbi of a synagogue of the Italian rite, so my first assumption was that this was going to be Italian. First, I transliterated the Hebrew into Latin characters. Being that I don't know Italian other than a few words, I decided to run it through "Google Translate" to see what would happen. Now, I know Google Translate isn't perfect, but it should at least be able to identify the language and hopefully give a rudimentary translation to get the idea. Before going further please understand this caveat: I'm relying on Google Translate for the translation! If any of the readers understand Italian and can refine the translation, then please do so in the comment section, I'd love to polish up the translation! Google translate was more helpful in the first part than the second. Doing a little research, I discovered that  Calabrian (aka Calabrese) is the dialect from where the Vital family hailed from. Like I said, I'd love some assistance from anyone with any linguistic background in this. Below is the text:

An incantation for "foreign fire" called homra:  Incant [literally "whisper"] with a  knife with a black handle and touch it to him. Say the incantation seven times and at the end of each time spit  on the ground and touch the ground with the knife. [It is to be done] in the morning before sunrise and at sunset but not night. This is the incantation: 

אין נומברי דיל דייו אלטו / In nombri del deo alto / In numbers of the high god [1]

לא רוזא אינקאנטו /  lo rosa incanto / the red enchantment

אינקנטוטי פירקאנטו /  incantoti pircanto / charm pircanto [2]

לא רוזא אינקאנטו / lo rosa incanto / red enchantment

 אינקנטו לא רוזא מאלורי דא /  incanto lo rosa malori da / sick from red enchantment

פור דונדי אקי פואי ויני דא / Por dondi aci poai vini da / that's where you come from [3]

די שיירטו טירו דירי /  di certo tiro diri / certainly I would say

קון לייובייאש אי ויינטוש אקי אינטרי / con liobias ei vintos aci intri / ??? [4]

קוגלייו די קאגאש פירטאש טומרי / coglieo di cogas pirtas tomri / ??? [5]

איז טי קורטארי אי אלוש קאנפוש טי איגארי / is ti cortari ei alos conpos ti eigari / It will Cortaro to alos Should you eigari [6]

אונדי פאדרי אה היגו נו לייאמא / ondi (or, onde?)  padri ah hego no leoama / ?? father ? [7]

אונדי פירו נו ?רא / ondi pyro  no ?ra / ?? fire ?? [8]

אונדי גאלייו נו קאנטא / ondi galeo no canta / ?? ?? no sings [9]

אונדי וואקא נו אמא / ondi vaca no ama  / ondi cow doesn't love [10]

אלייא וואייא טו מאל אה לאש פור פונדינאש דילא מאר אונדי גידיו נו איי / aleo vaeo tu mal ah los por fondinas di lo mar ondi gideo no ai / ?? your bad" ?? say the sea ?? [11]


[1] Google detected this particular line as Esperanto. Esperanto is an artificial language mostly based off of the Romance languages, so obviously Chaim Vital wasn't speaking Esperanto! There are many local and regional dialects of Italian and Google only uses the standard type in it's AI. What this most likely means is the incantation is in a regional dialect.

[2] Google didn't translate pircanto. Maybe an archaic word? I would say maybe "picanto" as in "heat" which would make sense for a fever. Any ideas, dear readers?

[3] Google detected this particular line as Corsican, which is an Italian dialect.

[4] Google couldn't understand this line. I'm sure I'm transliterating some wrong. The closest I got to anything was for the second part "vintos aci intrii" meaning "come here" in Romanian. 

[5] Although Google recognized this as Italian, it didn't offer a translation.

[6] I had to change "ti" to "te" to get any translation. Google then recognized it as Latin. I'm most likely transliterating some words wrong here.

[7] See note 5. "onde padri" got me "where father" (Portuguese) or "waves fathers" (Italian).

[8] pyro is fire. That's all I'm able to get out of this line.

[9] Gibberish google translation. All I'm able to get out of it is  "no canta" means doesn't sing in Spanish. "Non canta" means the same thing in standard Italian. Again, I understand I'm dealing with what is most likely some local Italian dialect that Google isn't programmed with.

[10] Obviously something went amiss here in Google translate! Also, detected it as Portuguese. I will note that "vacca" is Latin for cow.

[11] Google detected this line as Spanish but it was basically gibberish except for the two short phrases.