Supplement to the original introduction to Sefer Milhhamot Ha-Shem of Yihhyeh ibn Shlomoh ElGafeh - that introduction here re-written
At the moment of writing , 14 years have passed since the formulation of the original introduction. I have explained elsewhere the very particular significance of that introduction, it being the first and previously the only document revealing the true identity of the Tzadik, Haim, Head of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim, written by me while he was still in this world and read by me to the holy Tzadik and approved by him, word by word. This makes it as well the only document in which one of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim gave permission to write and to reveal information about himself and to explain something of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim.
This fact, together with important information received in dreams from the Tzadik Haim after his demise, has given us to understand that Milhhamot Ha-Shem is a ‘redemptional sign’ pertaining to the Geula ha-Shlema. More specifically, after the terrible holocaust and with the formation of the State of Israel, the Jewish people as a whole, is found in the period of its ‘purification’ and ‘refinement’ which preceeds the final redemption.
I begin to renew here the original text.
- The Tzadik and Hacham ha-Razin, ha-Moreh Haim Wenna from Sana’ Yemen, was born to the Tzadik, chief of the Beit Din in Sana’, ha-Mori Moshe Wenna, peace be with him, at dawn of the first day of Shavuot. Ha-Mori Moshe, seeing that the exact moment of his son’s birth coincided precisely with that of Matan Torah, called him Haim in virtue of the verse ‘Haim heim le-mahhzikim bah’ - ‘It (the Torah) is life unto those who hold on to it’. As a very select few from among the Higher Tzadikim, ha-Moreh Haim was born circumcised. The youngest of 11 children, 9 brothers and 1 sister, he was the chosen one to receive the ‘secrets’ of the Torah and the ‘secrets’ of the world, from his father, the holy Tzadik Moshe.
It was about 12 years ago (this was written in 1982) that ha-Moreh Haim Wenna, who has been living now in Milan, Italy, for more than twenty years, may we merit to the light of his presence for many years to come, had first mentioned to us, his talmidim, that there existed an extremely important sefer, written by the Yemenite Hacham, Yihyeh ibn Shlomoh ElGafeh, which is the only book of its kind to speak openly and to reveal the truth concerning the completely heretical doctrines contained in the Zohar and taken up by the ‘kabbalists’ and followed by the hassidic movements. The Sefer, called Milhhamot Ha-Shem - The Wars of God, was known exclusively to an inner-circle group of Yemenite Jews, the Darda’in, and a few copies of the original and exclusive publication in 1931 were to be found. It was not until January, 1981, that one of the talmidim, Davide Levi, obtained a copy in Israel from a Yemenite Jew from Sana’ who gave it to him as a present when he heard that Davide was a talmid of a Yemenite Tzadik.
Ha-Moreh was still in the hospital after the first long operation when Davide brought it in from Israel with an account of how, by miracle he was given that copy after having given up hope of ever finding it. At the end he met a Yemenite girl by ‘chance’ and when Davide told her what he was looking for, she brought him home to her father who by ‘chance’ had a one copy of the book. When Davide explained that he was talmid of ha-Moreh Haim, the man took his only copy and gave it to him with a blessing, “May God grant that this book come into worthy hands who will be able to make it known publicly”. The Yemenite Jew who descended from Dardain and knew about the dispute explained that he would not have given it away, but that he himself would not be able to do anything towards its diffusion.
The Teacher, after a few days, allowed me to take it home and ordered me to read it very carefully. I did not read it. I ate it and relished it and wept for joy that this text existed in the world. I became excited with the thought that the Tzadik had saved it from oblivion and that now it might be prepared and made known. The Teacher Haim gave me permission to translate it into English as well as the permission to write an introduction in which I reveal the identity of the Hidden Tzadik, Head of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim. This was a unique historical event.
Afterwards, I made first drafts into Italian from the English from which Davide Levi made the Italian text of ‘Le Sacre Guerre contro la falsa Kabbalah’. During the year of mourning for the Tzadik Haim, we finished the texts and with the help of Remo Levi, peace be with him, we published it in Italy by the Giuntina, a Jewish publishing house of Florence.
Before the death of the Tzadik, he had blessed our work, placing his hand on the Book and on the translation work up to then, and said, “Ha sefer ha zeh yihyeh kadosh la-kol” (This Book will be holy for all). The Tzadik had heard from me piece by piece as I wrote the introduction and had given his approval. Ha-Moreh Haim assured us that the contents of this book will stupefy the Jewish world to such an extent that the Holy Wars against the false Kabbalah will be awakened in the hearts of conscientious Jews all over the world sincerely interested in the conservation of our heritage. Therefore we are reinforced and secure in placing our steps, for the Crowning Light of this publication, the Tzadik Haim, has authorised these Holy Wars. This represents the assurance that its contents are acceptable before God Almighty and will consequently be cherished in the eyes of all those who search for truth and wisdom.
The Yemenite Jews, for more than 27 centuries lived exactly as their fathers and father’s fathers in every generation. They lived ‘al pi ha-torah ve-’al pi ha-’avodah ve-’al pi ha-teva’ ‘according to the Torah, according to the service and according to nature’. They lived a life dedicated to the Torah, to serving God through their work and to serving God through the love and knowledge of nature and its secrets. There were no doctors in Yemen, nor was there need for them, as every Yemenite Jew knew hundreds of secret cures from an antique oral tradition concerning the virtues of herbs and their combinations. It indeed represents a very involved study which consists in knowing each herb and its particular virtue (segulah) and the thousands of possible combinations each fulfilling a particular function. The knowledge of the exact proportions and the exact combinations, the proportions of the ingredients and the manner of their preparation distinguishes the Yemenite tradition from all others in the world.
There is yet a higher study known only to a select few in which the Hacham or Mori knows the relationship between the virtues of the herbs and the stars from which these herbs take their influence. They can thus calculate the time of major success for each remedy. As for herbs, so too the knowledge of the virtues of particular stones involves a profound and secret instruction given over orally and not to be revealed.
All these are but a few categories of secrets in nature known to the Yemenite Jews in direct inheritance from the Hachamim who were living in Jerusalem previous to the destruction of the First Temple. It was in that period that the Prophet Jeremiah prophesied concerning the forthcoming destruction and warned that those desiring to follow the word of God could save themselves by leaving Jerusalem and Israel. In general the people did not heed nor believe the Prophet’s warnings. Only 80 Hachamim who feared the Lord and believed the words of the Prophet gathered their families and belongings and departed from Jerusalem about twenty years before the destruction. They directed themselves southward across the Arabian Peninsula until they came to a small mountain where they received stellar signs (of which they had great knowledge) that they must settle in that place. The name of that mountain Gebel Innegum - Mountain of the Stars was given by them.
This represents the true origin of Yemenite Jewry, testified to by the Tzadik Haim. It also explains why Yemenite tradition has the superiority of unbrokenness and dcompared to all other traditions, the great Reform of Ezra included.
The fact that the Yemenite tradition goes directly back to the period before the destruction of the First Temple is extremely significant. It is the only tradition that did not pass through the confusion and desperation, the persecution and dispersion connected with the hhorban of the First Temple or, later on in history, of the Second Temple. The Yemenite Jews remember how their first fathers answered with wise steadfastness to Ezra’s ‘order’ that they leave Yemen and return to the Holy Land, “We did not participate in the first destruction and we do not desire to witness the second destruction. We will return to the Holy Land, God willing, for the time of the Third and Final Temple which will never be destroyed.”
Their tradition was thus untouched and unbroken by the pains of exile. It is the oldest oral tradition in existence. Among those 80 Hhachamim there was also at least one who carried with him the ancient hidden tradition of the Prophet Elijah, of blessed memory. This is a tradition, passed down orally from one person to one person in every generation, which reached the Tzadik Moshe of Sana’ Yemen and which was eventually passed on to his son Haim.
This is the particular tradition and blessing which pertains to the Head of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim in each generation. The Prophet Elijah himself is called the Head of the Men of the Ascent to which the Talmud alludes when it says ‘The Men of the Ascent are very few’. The Sages of blessed memory also speak of the fact that ‘Not less than 36 Tzadikim receive the face of the Divine Presence every day’. Among those 36 Tzadikim of the Hidden Ascent, to one pertains the tradition closest to that of the Prophet Elijah, of blessed mentioning, and only to this one person in every generation pertains the title Head of the Hidden Tzadikim.
Their secrets are never written down nor could they be understood had it been possible to write them. These are the righteous pillars of the world in whose merit the Almighty does not destroy His world. For when wickedness abounds in the land and all foolish ways are praised as wisdom and the beloved nature of the world is violated, the individual misdeeds are accumulated in the general ‘cup of wrath’ from which, God save us, decrees of unremitting destruction are pronounced upon the world. Yet even as God revealed to Abraham the heavenly decree which was about to fall on the five cities of Sodom, so did He place the Hidden Tzadikim in each generation. These through the secret which they possess are able to elevate themselves to a ‘general level’ and to know the decrees that are ready to descend, God forbid, on a large city, a country or the world. So do they stand up in prayer before the Merciful One and accept upon themselves the painful weight of that decree, lest it fall upon the masses. Therefore do they suffer in silence and praise God for their every breath. Great is their holiness and their humbleness, immense is the power of their secret. Yet even they, as elevated and holy as they are cannot enter into the chamber of responsibility which is the inheritance of one alone in every generation about whom the verse alludes ‘The Tzadik is the foundation of the world’.
It is they alone who know the secret of the Ascent and they alone who bear the burden and suffering of the ‘general sins’ of mankind. If not for the ‘hidden powers’ of the Kedusha (Sanctity) that the Tzadik possesses he could not possibly endure the intensity of such a suffering, for no individual could support more than the share which pertains to him as an individual. Also for this reason the Higher Secrets cannot be lacking at any moment, but cannot be given to others since the knowledge of them incurs necessarily the responsibility corresponding to the ‘general level’ from which they derive. If not for their intervention, the decrees would fall upon the ‘klal’, God forbid, and the world would return to Tohu and Bohu, God save us.
5. For our purposes here, in introducing the unfortunately necessary war against the false Kabbalah, let it be said that the Tzadik Haim allowed the revelation of these facts for reason of ‘Et la-assaot la-Adonai Eloheinu, heifiru toratecha’ ( it is a time to act for the sake of the Lord, our God, for they have violated Your Torah). It was an historical necessity that a true and authoritative voice of the true Kabbalah speak out once and for all against that great sea of Kabbalistic literature all based on a common error of an erroneous theology and thus false Torah. The true Tzadik knows the authority of his voice, and his affirmations are, so to speak, immediately ‘sealed’ before the Higher Tribunal. The Tzadik knew as well that he was in a pure state of ‘sacrifice’ before God and that his every word was immediately accepted. Let the identity of the Tzadik be known but the Holy Wars of God against the false Kabbalah must be made known to the people of Israel.
Also the great accomplishment of Yihyeh ElGafeh’s efforts had been redeemed and the truth of his entire exposition had come unto the time of its objective. Previous to the arrival of this book, the Tzadik Haim had explained to me that all Israel was in error concerning the Zohar and that its doctrines were anything but true Kabbalah and that they led to every kind of idolatrous thought. The Tzadik raged fire in redeeming the name of the holy Tanai, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohhai, from being attributed to this work and he cursed Moshe de Leon for the spiritual catastrophe that he caused to Israel in the later days of its history. I had no permission, however, to speak of this, and , as mentioned, it took ten years for the sefer to arrive.
In general the Teacher did not go into details in explaining the error of the Zohar. That was not the Tzadik’s purpose with me. He elongated much more on the money-sin of Moshe de Leon and how he had received for his texts great sums of money from the poor souls of rich merchants who believed them written by Shimon ben Yohhai. For the details of the error, the Tzadik relied on the eventual arrival of Milhhamot Ha-Shem. What the Tzadik did explain was that the basic mistake lay in interpreting the words of the Torah literally, such as the ‘hand of God’, ‘and God descended on Mount Sinai’ and all the other anthropomorphic terminology used in the Torah and by the Prophets.
“They did not heed the Great Eagle’s warnings” the Tzadik Haim would often repeat. “The Rambam, peace be upon him, warned all Israel, especially in Moreh Nevuchim, from taking these terms to the letter. Instead the kabbilists made a ‘shiur qoma’, a cosmic positioning of His stature, God forbid. They forgot to understand that you cannot contain God in any form whatsoever, earthly or cosmic. The terms of the Torah regarding such come, as the Sages, of blessed memory explain, ‘only to let the ear hear what it might for the sake of letting it hear something’. This is so that one have some idea of how the Holy One, Blessed is He, manifested something of His sanctity to the world, but not to be taken to the letter.”
In other discourses on this matter, the Teacher would exclaim, “It’s amazing how profoundly the nation sleeps. If all these kabbalistic books contain the secrets of the Torah and the secrets of the worlds above, how would all these be called secrets, if they are written down for all to read!? But they contain a false metaphysical doctrine based on human understanding and human understanding is totally insufficient for understanding what is above nor can the true secrets above be described in human terminology without coming to error. They did not have the humility to lower their heads in the knowledge of ‘tamim t’hiyeh im ha-Shem Elohecha’ - (Be of a simple heart with the Lord, your God). The human intellect cannot understand what the Creator of the heavens and earth is!”
This theme would come back again and again in the Teacher’s words. The nation had fallen because those who believed themselves the carriers of the tradition had come to relish the thoughts of their own intellect until they forgot the barriers of humalimit. After this they fell into the false lights of Satan’s wisdom, fooling themselves and all who came under their influence. And also the false god Mamon came unto its midst to entice the spreading of the Zohar which teaches the secrets of the Torah to all those who pay good prices for entrance into the hidden doctrines of the Kabbalah.
The Tzadik would often teach me, “All of them together, using all the ‘names’ and ‘kavvanot’ mentioned in their books would not be capable of lifting a glass even one centimetre from the table”. This is an important teaching. I hope to explain something of it further on in this introduction.
Let me try to sum up another typical lesson of the Tzadik Haim, concerning the Zohar, the mystic movements and hassidic movements. - ‘Yet the enticing persuasion of these books convinces them that constant and continual study and meditation will lead them into the hidden chambers and quench the thirst of their longing souls. The evil power of attraction which they contain and from which they derive stirs up their hopes and desires, in the belief that soon they reach the beginning of their desired destination. Yet they reach only to the next idea and the next meditation as they plunge into the abyss of unfounded hope and into the unending spiral of constructed fantasies. Day after day, year after year, and until the very life-span of a man, the evil inspiration which lurks behind Moses de Leon’s imbroglio refuses its victim the insight and realisation that he is exactly at starting point. This in turn leads to every kind of falsehood and illusion. It gives the person who studies them a completely false image of himself and it conducts him out of the range of normal behaviour and proper derech eretz. All his thoughts become disproportionate nor has he any true understanding of the very words that he has become accustomed to bantering.’
It is, granted, not easy to distinguish one true light from a thousand false lights, since also the false lights have their illumination. The true light, of course, will not go out while the thousand false lights will not remain. In the meantime, however, who might distinguish among them, unless one already possesses and knows the true qualities of the true light. In truth, therefore, only one of the true Hidden Men of the Ascent could decree in the name of that higher truth what is true kabbalah and what is false kabbalah.
But the planes of tradition would also have to be satisfied in order to answer to rabbinical queries. This had to come from a talmid hhacham, not from a Hidden Tzadik. The Divine Providence awakened a spirit of true jealousy for the true kabbalah of our sages, of blessed memory, based on the Torah and the oral tradition of the Mishnah and Talmud. The force of EL KANA summoned his work while the Hhacham ElGafeh delved and found, meditated and knew, waged the war of the great mitzvah to which his destiny had entrapped him for the sake of the future importance that the fruits of his labour would bring to the people of Israel.
In truth Rav ElGafeh’s exposition of the facts is not shakla and tarya (the exchange of various opinions of Amoraim to arrive at the basis of a Mishnaic law or to form new decisions). He is speaking of a grave error in the midst of the rabbinic world which touches the very core of all Judaism. Also the kabbalists of Jerusalem became afraid when it was published in 1931. They immediately called for a fast and they placed the sefer in Hherem; they went to the cemetery and put ashes on their heads and bellowed in prayer against the intruder.
Indeed Sefer Milhhamot Ha-Shem is not a book; it is a war, a harsh and bitter war without any place of compromise. The sefer is written with the force of prophecy denouncing the wretched prostitute who had found her victims in Israel’s rabbinic world in the last days of judgement; not simply in a style of prophecy but in the prophetic force of the sanctified words of the Torah and Prophets ‘ratified’ by the entire oral tradition of Israel, Mishnah, Talmud, Poskim, the Mishnah Torah etc. It’s no wonder that the kabbalists of Jerusalem got scared!
But the author simply turned their fright into pathetic truths: What were they afraid of? Why was he called a Kofer (one who negates God or the Torah) for his disbelief in the Zohar when all his sources in explaining the idolatrous reasoning of that sefer are taken from Torah and tradition? He was negating by way of Torah material that he was demonstrating to be false Torah. The author is speaking pure Torah. Why should you be so afraid if the Torah is behind you to answer?
It was obvious that the kabbalists’ reaction was not simply for the Book of the Zohar but reflected the extent to which their kabbalah had for them become the Torah itself! They were no longer able to distinguish. In the confusion of such a pure fusion between the two, it had seemed a hundred percent clear to them that Rav ElGafeh had cursed the whole Torah. Their minds had already been cut off from being able to speak Torah about the truth or non-truth of the ‘doctrines’ that they were following. To them it had become Torah and you could not discuss it.
Rav ElGafeh, with indignation against the trap into which the rabbis had fallen and had allowed Israel to fall into after them, answered with well-founded disgust, “Where is your sechel, o Israel. You believe that the Zohar was buried under ground for about 15 centuries, in the territory of some foreign king. The king, it is said, searched for treasures but by surprise found this book but he didn’t know how to read it. He called to his wise men who said to call the Jews who explained to the king that, yes, it was a Jewish Book but that they themselves were not able to understand it. Only one rabbi, rabbi Moses de Leon, of Spain was able to understand it. So the king sent it to Spain and that is how Moshe de Leon came onto it. Even a small child would not believe such non-sense. What has eaten your intellects, o Israel!”
Nevertheless, before the Book was written, there was an exchange of letters between the Rav ElGafeh and one of the kabbalists of Jerusalem, letters which are conserved as the introduction to sefer Milhhamot Ha-Shem. The letters require a high calibre of knowledge concerning the kabbalistic ideas which are one by one refuted by ha-Mori ElGafeh. At the same time he demonstrates the blatant lack of understanding of the questions asked by him and he denounces the unjustified disrespectful language used in his regards totally against the laws of derech eretz of the Torah and tradition. ‘This is proof that the doctrines which you are trying to defend have caused you to deviate from the beloved ways of the Torah’.
Clearly the subject-matter of Milhhamot Ha-Shem is not of easy comprehension to those fortunate enough not to know anything about the mystic-doctrines from the Zohar until Habad. The problems of how to present the material to a vast Jewish world, at least 90 percent of which has no knowledge and no interest of such abstract trash, must here be considered. The text of Milhhamot Ha-Shem is itself written in a highly rabbinical style, normal for Jews used to studying Torah texts. On the other hand, the basic argument is one, the pure faith in which we are commanded against the doctrine of Zeir Anpin of the Zohar. The objective, therefore, to be reached is not complicated. It is as simple as ‘Be of a pure heart with the Lord, your God’.
This means that even if you don’t understand what all those doctrines are trying to get at, it’s enough to know that they’re wrong and idolatrous in their source, and to rely on the well-rooted faith of Jewish tradition. This, however, might be well for that large majority of Jews but what about that other 10 percent who has fallen? On the other hand, those who have not fallen, can understand and agree to it readily, while those who have fallen are not able to take sefer Milhhamot in their hands. They are closed off from the temimut of the true Jewish faith. For whom then is the sefer to be prepared, for those who wish to have nothing to do with those doctrines or for those who fallen into those doctrines and will listen to nothing else?
One of the purposes of the rewriting of this introduction is for the sake of coming to terms with this dilemma. In that first introduction, the purpose was for awakening the Wars of God among Jews for the sake of purifying Judaism from a terrible trap into which part of it had fallen and to warn the nation of this danger.
Let us say that the purpose of that first publication in 1931 was that Israel prepare itself for bringing a sin-sacrifice for idolatry on behalf of the whole congregation, when the sin was ‘hidden from the eyes of the congregation’. The purpose of our publication was to bring the authorisation of the Tzadik Haim, Head of the 36 Hidden Tzadikim, to bear on the verification of the contents of Sefer Milhhamot Ha-Shem.
There was also another purpose, that of binding the generations of that error to its final Fourth Generation form in the false messianic movement of Habad where it reaches the climax of the hated idolatrous ideas and behaviour that must be truncated from all Judaism before Israel can enter into its redemption.
The author had not been in the position to judge hassidism and the mystic doctrines of hassidut which are, in any case, only ramifications of the Zoharitic doctrines mostly in their Lurianic interpretations. But the Tzadik Haim had seen the doctrinal filth fulfilled in the active filth of Habad. They were false in every way, before God and before others, but many were the innocent victims who fell in with them. The subtle sin of the fathers of the Zohar had come to its manifestly hateful and idolatrous actions in Habad. The Jewish world had to be warned against this evil force and to stand up against it.
It was Providential that the Tzadik had redeemed me from the Habadiim with whom I had become a full-fledged member for 5 years. It would later become incumbent upon me to help in binding that sin of fathers of the Zohar to the sin of the hated fourth generation of Habad. As the work of preparing Milhhamot Ha-Shem progressed into the Hherem Mideoraita, also the my personal redemption from Habad at the hands of the holy Tzadik Haim, became bound to the work of the purification of Israel from this last plague of no return.
The prophetic force of the Hhacham ElGafeh’s words, with all the truth behind them, had now to be bound to the Prophesied Fourth Generation. I began working on the Five Tablets of the Pact. This sefer was intended to explain Milhhamot Ha-Shem and to establish the true Kabbalah of all Israel.
Thus the Wars of God against the false kabbalah now became the Wars of God against ‘AVON KETZ, the prophesied Last Great Sin of the Final Days of Judgement. The sin of the Zohar and its four hundred year development until the hated fourth generation Habad messianism was the ‘hidden’ sin that had caused Israel to fall in the latter days.
In Rav ElGafeh’s prophetically engaging the verses of the Torah to correspond with the idolatrous sins of the Zohar, he deals with the sin of the generation of Enosh, with the sin of the tower of Babel, with the sin of the golden calf and in general with the Second Commandment and he touches the implications of the original sin. These four points lay the foundation work for the Hherem Mi-Deoraita which is incorporated into the first four Tablets of the Five Tablets of the Pact.
Here again Rav ElGafeh’s prophetic correlation’s between those ancient events and the idolatry of the Zohar require that a true Beit Din of Israel act, define and judge etc. The prophetic force of the same prophecies, however, as they become bound to the Fourth Generation Prophecies, take on great ‘finalised’ meanings which explain the great historical correction necessary for receiving the Final Redemption.
This in turn gives the soul-searchers for Israel’s ‘correction’ the new mental construction with which to review Israel’s history, especially those of the 400 years before the holocaust in terms of the Fourth Generation. Thus while Rav ElGafeh halachicly carved out the Hherem of the Torah against these false doctrines, the Hherem Mi-Deoraita becomes THE Historical Excommunication of the Torah against the doctrines of Emanation, Zeir Anpin, Tzimtzum etc.
The Four Generations mentioned in the Second Commandment become prophetic to the Final Fourth Generation. The time has come. The Final and unique Fourth Generation of all history has been opened. The generation of the Day of the Lord great and terrible is this one.
Now the fact that the Hidden Tzadik, Haim, had initiated the Wars of God against the false kabbalah while he was still in this world and he gave orders to continue the work of Milhhamot Ha-Shem for the sake of the necessary purification of the faith before the final redemption, took on larger measures, demonstrating the enormous historical importance of knowing and discerning this atrocious error in the midst of the Jewish world.