Emor 5777: Do Kabbalistic Intentions Add or Detract from the Omer?

The Mishnah famously proclaims that one must not stand to pray unless they have first focused their mind (M. Brakhot 5:1). Curiously, the Talmud pairs this instruction with a similar rule not to separate from a friend except with the proper focus of mind (B. Brakhot 31a). The Sages daringly compare the encounter of a person praying to God to the encounter between two friends. And just as one owes God the respect of proper intention when standing in prayer, so too do we owe one another proper respect when parting ways—we want to remember each other well, and to view each other not just as acquaintances but as a cherished friends and teachers. For this reason, the Sages say that when parting, one ought to share a teaching of halakhah, literally a guide for walking, so that their friend will remember them on their way. As we complete this academic year then, here is a word of halakhah that also relates to the mitzvah of counting the Omer of which we read in Parashat Emor.

Each night of the Omer season it is our custom to recite Leviticus 23:15 as an intention (כוונה) before the counting: “הנני מוכן ומזומן–Here I am, prepared and ready to fulfill a positive command, as it is written: And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete.” In this way we signal our serious intention to count the Omer and to connect the counting to its biblical source. We are very careful about the count, even though the original context for this mitzvah is a sacrificial rite which has been dormant for two millennia. The Torah’s intention seems to have been to remind the farmer of his or her dependence on God as a way of motivating the sharing of produce with the poor (see 23: 22), but the mitzvah today has evolved into a meditation on theology.

The counting of the Omer connects the physical emancipation celebrated at Passover to the spiritual enlightenment celebrated at Shavuot. There are also mystical dimensions to this mitzvah, with the seven weeks of seven days each an opportunity to meditate on a different combination of divine qualities. For example, today is the thirtieth day, making four weeks and two days of Omer. It is said to be the day of גבורה שבהוד, when we think about the combination of the divine qualities of might and majesty. Many people use these associations to meditate on their own spiritual qualities, using the period of Omer as a type of spiritual inventory and opportunity for growth.

Surrounding the blessing and the count there is an accretion of supplemental meditations and biblical citations (such as reciting Psalm 67 afterwards). The Vilna Gaon railed against this expansion of passages before and after in his book Maaseh Rav (#69). And yet, under the influence of Kabbalah, many Hasidic and Sephardic communities began to introduce a sentence declaring that in the counting of the Omer, one intended to unite the “Holy One and His Presence (that is, the fifth sefirah of Tiferet and the tenth sefirah of Malkhut) in reverence and love”: לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה בדחילו ורחימו. This expression is also associated with other mitzvot such as wearing tallit and tefillin, and it seems to add some theological drama to what might otherwise be a routine and even tedious ritual.

Not everyone has been pleased by this introduction of theological drama into the performance of mitzvot. As mentioned already, the Vilna Gaon opposed the addition of “intentions” and verses before and after the performance of a mitzvah. Rabbi Yehezkel Landau wrote with great ferocity in his responsa Noda BiYehudah against people who were adding novel intentions that purported to rearrange the heavens. He said of such people, “they are so arrogant as to say, ‘the heavens have opened for me, and for my sake is the world sustained,’ but in fact they are destroyers of the generation.” That sounds a bit harsh, but his own practice makes sense. For mitzvot that are preceded by a blessing, the blessing suffices to indicate intention. For others he recommends saying, “I am about to fulfill the mitzvah of X.”

Rabbi Landau’s student R’ Avraham b”r Yehiel of Danzig writes very beautifully in his book Hayei Adam about the importance of preparing for each mitzvah with intention, rather than rushing through the act. He uses the famous play on Exodus 12:17 which literally means “you shall guard the Matzot” and renders it as “take care with the Mitzvot” (ושמרתם את המצות). Adding a statement of intention can slow down the act and ensure that it is done properly. Still, he drew the line at stating one’s intention, and did not accept the kabbalistic intention of uniting the heavens through one’s mitzvah performance.

Modern scholars such as the great Ismar Elbogen (1874-1943, at JTS from 1938) had little patience for the mystical additions that crept into the liturgy. In his book Jewish Liturgy, edited and translated by our own Professor Raymond Scheindlin (p.294f), he explains of the Baal Shem Tov, “In his opinion, every true prayer has the power to influence the upper realms; it must not remain subjugated to the petitions and requests of the individual, but it must bring him closer to the Creator.” This description sounds quite positive, but Elbogen concludes, “It cannot be said that this [Hasidic] movement was a blessing for religious life, for the price of their striving for intensity was the perversity of their superstitious beliefs and their uncivilized conduct.”

And yet, the desire to connect one’s daily conduct with the drama of heaven is inherently admirable. Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (“the holy Shla”h”) spoke about saying the mystical formula about uniting the heavens not only before performing a mitzvah, but even for ordinary activities such as building a house. “Let him say, I am building so that this may be a house of gathering for the learning of Torah…so that the ordinary can become sanctified.” This indeed seems to be the very essence of Judaism–making ordinary life extraordinary, infusing it with ethical and spiritual importance.

The siddurim of our movement and indeed most classical Orthodox siddurim too leave out the Kabbalistic intention, but it has become popular in recent prayer books. My practice is not to say it–I feel that the established custom of saying “I am prepared”  followed by the blessing suffice to express my intention to count the Omer and perform other mitzvot. And yet, if people wish to believe that their performance of a miztvah can repair a rupture in heaven, who am I to judge?

However you prepare for the count, the important thing is to count, and in so doing, to dedicate our physical freedom to the spiritual grandeur of a sanctified life. May we all have continued joy in the study of Torah and performance of mitzvot, so that we can build a virtuous and joyous life together.

 

Texts and biographies from the Bar Ilan Responsa collection below.

משנה מסכת ברכות פרק ה

אין עומדין להתפלל אלא מתוך כובד ראש חסידים הראשונים היו שוהים שעה אחת ומתפללים כדי שיכונו את לבם למקום אפילו המלך שואל בשלומו לא ישיבנו ואפילו נחש כרוך על עקבו לא יפסיק:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף לא עמוד א

תנו רבנן: אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך עצבות, ולא מתוך עצלות, ולא מתוך שחוק, ולא מתוך שיחה, ולא מתוך קלות ראש, ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה. וכן לא יפטר אדם מחברו לא מתוך שיחה, ולא מתוך שחוק, ולא מתוך קלות ראש, ולא מתוך דברים בטלים – אלא מתוך דבר הלכה, שכן מצינו בנביאים הראשונים שסיימו דבריהם בדברי שבח ותנחומים. וכן תנא מרי בר בריה דרב הונא בריה דרבי ירמיה בר אבא: אל יפטר אדם מחבירו אלא מתוך דבר הלכה, שמתוך כך זוכרהו.

פרשת אמור. ויקרא פרק כג.

(ט) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְקֹוָ֖ק אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר: (י) דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֲנִי֙ נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֔ם וּקְצַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־קְצִירָ֑הּ וַהֲבֵאתֶ֥ם אֶת־עֹ֛מֶר רֵאשִׁ֥ית קְצִירְכֶ֖ם אֶל־הַכֹּהֵֽן: (יא) וְהֵנִ֧יף אֶת־הָעֹ֛מֶר לִפְנֵ֥י יְקֹוָ֖ק לִֽרְצֹנְכֶ֑ם מִֽמָּחֳרַת֙ הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת יְנִיפֶ֖נּוּ הַכֹּהֵֽן: (יב) וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֕ם בְּי֥וֹם הֲנִֽיפְכֶ֖ם אֶת־הָעֹ֑מֶר כֶּ֣בֶשׂ תָּמִ֧ים בֶּן־שְׁנָת֛וֹ לְעֹלָ֖ה לַיקֹוָֽק: (יג) וּמִנְחָתוֹ֩ שְׁנֵ֨י עֶשְׂרֹנִ֜ים סֹ֣לֶת בְּלוּלָ֥ה בַשֶּׁ֛מֶן אִשֶּׁ֥ה לַיקֹוָ֖ק רֵ֣יחַ נִיחֹ֑חַ וְנִסְכֹּ֥ה יַ֖יִן רְבִיעִ֥ת הַהִֽין: (יד) וְלֶחֶם֩ וְקָלִ֨י וְכַרְמֶ֜ל לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֗וּ עַד־עֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה עַ֚ד הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־קָרְבַּ֖ן אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם חֻקַּ֤ת עוֹלָם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכֹ֖ל מֹשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם: ס (טו) וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹמֶ֖ר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה: (טז) עַ֣ד מִֽמָּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לַיקֹוָֽק: (יז) מִמּוֹשְׁבֹ֨תֵיכֶ֜ם תָּבִ֣יאּוּ׀ לֶ֣חֶם תְּנוּפָ֗ה שְׁ֚תַּיִם שְׁנֵ֣י עֶשְׂרֹנִ֔ים סֹ֣לֶת תִּהְיֶ֔ינָה חָמֵ֖ץ תֵּאָפֶ֑ינָה בִּכּוּרִ֖ים לַֽיקֹוָֽק: (יח) וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֣ם עַל־הַלֶּ֗חֶם שִׁבְעַ֨ת כְּבָשִׂ֤ים תְּמִימִם֙ בְּנֵ֣י שָׁנָ֔ה וּפַ֧ר בֶּן־ בָּקָ֛ר אֶחָ֖ד וְאֵילִ֣ם שְׁנָ֑יִם יִהְי֤וּ עֹלָה֙ לַֽיקֹוָ֔ק וּמִנְחָתָם֙ וְנִסְכֵּיהֶ֔ם אִשֵּׁ֥ה רֵֽיחַ־ נִיחֹ֖חַ לַיקֹוָֽק: (יט) וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֛ם שְׂעִיר־עִזִּ֥ים אֶחָ֖ד לְחַטָּ֑את וּשְׁנֵ֧י כְבָשִׂ֛ים בְּנֵ֥י שָׁנָ֖ה לְזֶ֥בַח שְׁלָמִֽים: (כ) וְהֵנִ֣יף הַכֹּהֵ֣ן׀ אֹתָ֡ם עַל֩ לֶ֨חֶם הַבִּכֻּרִ֤ים תְּנוּפָה֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְקֹוָ֔ק עַל־שְׁנֵ֖י כְּבָשִׂ֑ים קֹ֛דֶשׁ יִהְי֥וּ לַיקֹוָ֖ק לַכֹּהֵֽן: (כא) וּקְרָאתֶ֞ם בְּעֶ֣צֶם׀ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה מִֽקְרָא־קֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֛ם בְּכָל־מוֹשְׁבֹ֥תֵיכֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶֽם: (כב) וּֽבְקֻצְרְכֶ֞ם אֶת־קְצִ֣יר אַרְצְכֶ֗ם לֹֽא־תְכַלֶּ֞ה פְּאַ֤ת שָֽׂדְךָ֙ בְּקֻצְרֶ֔ךָ וְלֶ֥קֶט קְצִירְךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְלַקֵּ֑ט לֶֽעָנִ֤י וְלַגֵּר֙ תַּעֲזֹ֣ב אֹתָ֔ם אֲנִ֖י יְקֹוָ֥ק אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם:

מעשה רב הלכות פסוקי דזמרה וקריאת שמע ותפלה אות סט

סט ספירה אחר עלינו כל המנין ביחד. הנוסח בעומר כמ”ש בש”ע ולא לעומר. וא”א שום פסוקים לא לפניו ולא לאחריו כ”א י”ר שיבנה כו’:

שו”ת נודע ביהודה מהדורא קמא – יורה דעה סימן צג

ועל הרביעית אשר שאל בנוסח לשם יחוד אשר חדשים מקרוב נתפשט ונדפס בסידורים1 הנה בזה אני משיב עד שאתה שואלני נוסח אמירתו יותר ראוי לשאול אם נאמר כי טוב באמירתו. ולדעתי זה רעה חולה בדורנו ועל הדורות שלפני זמננו שלא ידעו מנוסח זה ולא אמרוהו והיה /והיו/ עמלים כל ימיהם בתורה ובמצות הכל ע”פ התורה וע”פ הפוסקים אשר דבריהם נובעים ממקור מים חיים ים התלמוד עליהם נאמר תומת ישרים תנחם והם הם אשר עשו פרי למעלה וגדול מעל שמים חסדם. אבל בדורנו הזה כי עזבו את תורת ה’ ומקור מים חיים שני התלמודים בבלי וירושלמי לחצוב להם בורות נשברים ומתנשאים ברום לבבם כל אחד אומר אנכי הרואה ולי נפתחו שערי שמים ובעבורי העולם מתקיים אלו הם מחריבי הדור. ועל הדור היתום הזה אני אומר ישרים דרכי ה’ וצדיקים ילכו בהם וחסידים יכשלו בם. והרבה היה לי לדבר מזה אבל כשם שמצוה לומר דבר הנשמע כך מצוה שלא לומר דבר שאינו נשמע וה’ ירחם עלינו. ….

ומ”ש מעלתו שטוב להיות הקשר אמיץ בדיבור ומחשבה ומעשה. הנה אנשי כנה”ג הם תיקנו לנו תפלות וברכות וליכא מידי דלא רמיזא בנוסח התפלה והברכה וברכה הוא התעוררות הדיבור ומחשבה וכל מצוה שיש ברכה לפניה א”צ לומר שום דבר לפניה רק הברכה. וכל דבר שאין ברכה לפניה אני נוהג לומר בפי הנני עושה דבר זה לקיים מצות בוראי ובזה די וא”צ יותר. והכונה הוא רק פירוש המלות וכל התיקונים למעלה נעשים מאליהם ע”י מעשינו.

חיי אדם חלק א כלל סח

“שומר מצוה לא ידע דבר רע” [קהלת ח’ ה’], רצה לומר שמחויב כשירצה לעשות איזו מצוה לא יעשה אותה בחפזון ובפתאום, רק שישמור וימתין (כמו [בראשית ל”ז י”א] ואביו שמר את הדבר) ויתיישב בדבר היטב איך יעשה, וכמו כן בפסח, כיון שהיו צריכין לאכול בחפזון משום חפזון דשכינה, בא להזהיר [שמות י”ב י”א] “וככה תאכלו אותו מתניכם חגורים” כו’ (מעשרה מאמרות מאמר ח”ה ח”ג פ’ י”א ע”ש). ונראה לי שזהו גם כן מה שכתוב [שמות י”ב י”ז] ושמרתם את המצות. וזהו שיסדו לומר “הנני מוכן ומזומן לקיים” כו’, ורצה לומר שכבר אני מוכן ומזומן. וזהו “הכון לקראת אלהיך ישראל” [עמוס ד’ י”ב], רצה לומר שתכין עצמך מקודם ולא בפתע פתאום. וכבר בחנתי בנסיון שכאשר עשיתי מצוה בפתאום לא קיימתיה כראוי, לכן צריך ליזהר בזה:

של”ה שער האותיות אות אל”ף – אמת ואמונה

ונראה בעיני, שלא די כשאומר ‘בשם ה’ אני עושה זה’ במלאכה גשמית, רק יאמר בלשון שאומרים בעשית מצוה, שהלשון הוא: ‘לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה על ידי ההוא טמיר ונעלם’, כך יאמר גם כן בכל מלאכה ופעולה. וטעמי, כי כבר כתבתי לעיל (עשרה מאמרות) במאמר (שמיני, אות ריז – ריט) שכל המעשים יהיו לשם שמים אפילו פעולה גשמית, כגון שבונה בית, יאמר, אני בונה אותו שיהיה מקום בית ועד ללומדי תורה, וכן בכל ענין, נמצא שאף החול נעשה קודש, והכל הוא מצוה, וקל להבין.

ילקוט יוסף השכמת הבוקר סימן ה – כוונת הברכות

ז. יש נוהגים לומר “לשם יחוד” לפני כל מצוה שעושים, או קודם לימודם. ואף על פי שהגאון הנודע ביהודה פקפק בזה, מכל מקום אם הדבר מועיל לו לכוין לשם מצוה, נכון שיאמר נוסח לשם יחוד לפני כל מצוה שמקיים. וכל אדם ינהג כפי מה שהוא מכיר את עצמו, שאם מתעורר לכוין במצוה על ידי הברכה, די בזה ואין צריך שיאמר לשם יחוד, אבל אם אמירת לשם יחוד גורמת לו לכוין יותר בעשיית המצוה, ראוי ונכון שיאמר לשם יחוד לפני כל מצוה ומצוה שעושה.ז)

ביוגרפיה – נודע ביהודה

Rabbi Ezekiel ben Judah Landau was born in 1713 in Opataw, Poland. R. Landau studied in Poland, where he served in various rabbinical posts until 1755, when he became chief rabbi of Prague and all of Bohemia. He represented the Jews before the Austrian government, and took an active part in responding to the social and religious upheaval created by the opening of non – Jewish society to the Jews after the abolition of the ghettos. His famous responsa collection, Noda Bi – Yehudah, is considered a classic and authoritative work, although some of his responsa were controversial. He also authored a commentary to the Talmud called Zion leNefesh Hayyah, or Tzelach for short. R. Landau died in 1793. The Project includes the Tzelach according to the Machon Yeruashalayim /Machon Lev Simcha (Wagschal) edition published in Jerusalem, 1995.

ביוגרפיה – מעשה רב

Elijah ben R. Shlomo Zalman of Vilna (commonly known as the Gaon of Vilna, the Gra, or simply the Gaon) was born in Vilna on the first night of Passover, 1720. He was considered the greatest Torah scholar of recent generations. His incredible talents were evident from his early childhood; these were accompanied by an unusual diligence in his studying and mannerisms of piety and holiness, which earned him the appellation Hasid (the Pious One) . He married at a young age and moved to Keidan, learning alone with tremendous diligence. For a number of years he wandered anonymously around Europe and upon his return he moved back to Vilna. The Gaon never accepted an official rabbinical or communal position, but always occupied himself with learning Torah with great diligence, and only very great individuals were allowed to see him. He acquired a broad and deep knowledge in all areas of the Torah, including both the esoteric and exoteric components. At a certain point, he decided to immigrate to the Land of Israel. On his way, he wrote a letter in Yiddish to his family from the city of Koenigsburg. The Hebrew translation of this letter is known as Alim Li – Terufah, or Iggeret HaGra, and has been published many times. For unknown reasons, the Gaon gave up this venture, but his students also yearned to come to Israel, and after his death many of them did indeed immigrate to Erez Israel, and reestablished the Ashkenazic presence in Israel. The Gaon fiercely opposed the nascent Hassidic movement, and his opposition prevented the Hassidic movement from gaining a strong presence in Lithuania. (Some claim that the Gaon’s opposition ensured that the movement did not stray from Torah Judaism.) The Gaon was deeply involved in determining the correct wording of the writings of Chazal and other early writings, both in the hidden and revealed areas of the Torah. He forcefully distanced himself from pilpul. Over the course of time, a number of prominent Torah scholars became associated with the Gaon; a few even accepted him as their primary Torah teacher, and recorded his insights in all areas of the Torah that they heard from him. The Gaon passed away on during the Intermediate Days of the Festival of Tabernacles in 1797. None of the Gaon’s Torah insights were published during his lifetime, but he left behind a tremendous literary repository in all parts of the Torah – on the esoteric and exoteric portions, including a commentary on the Bible, annotations and elucidations on most Tannaitic works and on the Shulhan Arukh. Most of the Gaon’s works on the revealed part of the Torah were written down by his students; his commentary on the Shulhan Arukh was written by himself in a number of versions. The commentary on the Shulhan Arukh was published over a number of years by his sons, son – in – law, and his students. It appears to be an expansion of the Beer HaGolah of R. Moses Rivkes (that the Gaon was his descendant) for it details the source for each halacha in the Shulhan Arukh. The Gaon’s terse notations encompass all the sources for a particular halacha, and justify the decisions of the Shulhan Arukh and the Rema in following a particular opinion. Nevertheless, on some occasions his own conclusion is quite different. Recently, a new project has been initiated with the objective of publishing the commentary from manuscript, accompanied with annotations and elucidations. The Responsa Project CD contains the version of the published commentary alongside the Tzurat HaDaf Shulhan Arukh by the Goren Ornan Institute, 2005. About 35 years after the Gaon’s passing, Ma’aseh Rav was published, including hundreds of his customs and halachic rulings, arranged by topic. It was compiled by his student, a rabbi of Vilna, R. Yissacher Ber b. R. Tanchum, who also authored a commentary to it, entitled Peu’lat Sachir. It was first printed in Vilna and Hordna in 5592 (1832) . The Responsa Project includes Ma’aseh Rav and Peu’lat Sachir from the 5649 (1889) Vilna printing.

ביוגרפיה – חיי אדם

Avraham b. R. Yechiel Michel Danziger was born in Danzig (Gedansk) in 1748 (5508) . He studied in the Yeshiva in Prague under the tutelage of R. Yechezkel Landau, author of the Noda Bihudah. He then moved to Vilna, became an entrepreneur and served as an unsalaried decider of Halakha. In his old age, when his business failed, he accepted the position of a judge in Vilna, serving the community in this capacity until his death in 1820 (5580) . R. Danziger authored significant volumes of Halakha. The first was the Chayei Adam, which summarizes the Orach Chaim section of the Shulchan Aruch: the laws of prayer, meals, etc. (69 sections) , and the Sabbath and festival laws (155 sections) . He also included expansive essays and discussions in his Nishmat Adam (first ed. Vilna, 1810 /5570) . Following this was the Chochmat Adam on the laws of Yoreh De’ah with the Binat Adam (172 sections, with a monograph Mazevet Moshe on the laws of mourning, Vilna, 1816/ 5676) . These books are not according to the order of the Shulchan Aruch, but according to an original order of the author, and they include a summary of the laws with the addition of R. Danziger’s final ritual and legal decisions. In addition to these volumes, he penned the volume Zichru Torat Moshe on the laws of the Sabbath, Sha’arei Zedek on the laws of the Land of Israel, and a few other books. Since its publication until recent generations, the Chayei Adam was considered in Eastern Europe one of the most important books of Halakha concerning the issues of Orach Chaim – until the influence of the Mishnah Berurah (which quotes many decisions by R. Danziger) supplanted it.

 

ביוגרפיה – של”ה

Isaiah b”r Abraham haLevi Horowitz (Ish Horowitz) was born in Prague ca. 1560 to a family of rabbis. His father was among the luminaries of Poland, a disciple of the Rama, and was R. Isaiah’s mentor. Later he studied with Maharam of Lublin, R. Joshua Wolk Katz, author of the Semah, and at a young age was known as an important scholar, and was even invited to join in the meetings of the Council of the Four Lands. He served as the rabbi of different European communities, and in 1615 was appointed rabbi of Prague. In 1622 he immigrated to the Land of Israel, and was appointed as rabbi of Jerusalem and it was here that he penned his book Shnei Luhot haBrit (Shela”h) , sending it to his sons in Prague to publish it. As rabbi of Jerusalem he suffered greatly from the abuse of the Moslem governor, and was even imprisoned. Upon his release he was forced to relocate in Safad and then in Tiberius where he died in 1630. Sefer Shela”h was first published by his son, R. Shabtai, author of the Vavei HaAmudim, in Amsterdam, 1648 – 1649, and since then, many more times. Some abbreviated versions have also been compiled. The book made him famous, and he is referred to as R. Isaiah haShela”h, and the book is referred to as the Holy Shela”h (Shela”h HaKadosh) . The book deals with ethics, faith and mysticism, law and custom and the edition by R. Meir Katz (Haifa: Machon Yad Ramah, 1997) has been added to the CD.

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