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Wait…There Are Jewish Death Curses?

Naftali Bennett just received one

Adam Chandler
April 11, 2013

I’ll freely admit there are a lot of things I am ignorant of, but one thing I am stunned to be learning just now is that there are mystical Jewish curses. This comes up because Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett just received a letter claiming that one had been put upon him for his policies that are less than popular among the ultra-Orthodox set.

The message arrived at Bennett’s office on Wednesday and declared that the senders invoked a “Pulsa Dinura,” or “lashes of fire,” against him to bring about his early demise.

“You will die you., The Pulsa Dinura has been done to you,” the letters read. It promised that Bennett would end his days like former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in 2006.

“Already, you will have no peace at home,” the letter continued. “A bitter life awaits you. From this day your life is ruined.”

I know this is frightening and morbid and all of that, but I’ve gotta say, this sort of sounds like a passive-aggressive fatwa to me. Some very light research on the topic reveals that it is purportedly a kabbalistic curse that comes around every so often:

“As the saying goes in Israel ‘you have not made it in Israeli politics until you’ve been cursed by the Pulsa DiNura.’”

I will save you a trip down an internet wormhole with this video, which shows some fanatics setting the curse upon Ariel Sharon for withdrawing from Gaza. It’s beyond ridiculous. There’s some spooky music, some weird color filtering, and some subtitles to help you understand what’s going on. What I’m not ignorant of is that this contravenes what we all know to be a Jewish principle embedded in the Torah: Never wish harm upon another.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.