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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • The Jewish Attitude to Evil

All Kabbalists live in Israel?!


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tevet 26, 5782
you said in a recent response to a questioner: You mentioned that "...the Chafetz Chaim and Rav Kook, respectively, and successfully!) [removed Dybbuks] and only by a clearly genuine and accepted kabbalist, which you will find only in Israel…)." my questions are: 1. Didn’t the Chafetz Chaim not live in Israel? 2. How did they remove the Dybbuks? 3. Who are the real kabbalists alive today? 4. Why can one only find one in Israel?
The Land of Israel is a mitzva for all, and extremely central to all of Judaism, but even more so in Kabbalistic sources and circles. Just as there is only prophecy in the Land of Israel, that same spirituality (on a lower level) is inherently connected to understanding Kabbala and desiring to be totally immersed in spirituality. Until recently, it was extremely difficult to live here because of economic and anti-Semitic hardships, so in previous generations there were Kabbalists who also lived outside of Israel. Despite this extreme difficulty, the greatest ones like R. Yosef Karo, R. Moshe Kordevaro, the Ari, R. Chaim Vital, the Shla, the Or HaChaim, Ramchal (R. Moshe Chaim Luzzato), R. Shalom Sharabi, the Leshem, R. Kook, R. Ashlag, R. Mordechai Eliahu all lived in Israel (most of them making the then painstaking efforts to pick up and make aliya). Regarding the Chafetz Chaim, he attempted to do so even at the age of 86, buying land in Petach Tikva and boat tickets, but his wife became dangerously ill. How much more so today, when it's easy to live in Israel, all of the great Kabbalists obviously do so. R. Elchanan Wasserman was an eye-witness to the Chafetz Chaim's removing a Dybbuk and his account is found in the biography "Meir Einei Yisrael", and Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook details extensively how his father did so, Tzemach Zvi, p. 40. I don't think it respectable for us to "rate" who are the greatest Kabbalists today, but they are well known in Israel.
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