Three Charms for Killing Adolf Hitler

Practical Kabbalah in WW2

in Aries
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This article deals with mystical-magical activities carried out in Jerusalem by kabbalists and rabbis during the years of the Third Reich as part of their struggle against the Nazi threat. It focuses on a page written for Eliyahu Mizrahi Dehuki, a relatively unknown Jerusalem expert in practical Kabbalah, containing three magic recipes for killing Adolf Hitler. The article opens with a discussion of the tradition of practical Kabbalah and the role of aggressive magic within it. It then proceeds to describe the two-pronged (defensive and aggressive) struggle that Jerusalem kabbalists and rabbis conducted against the Nazi foe during WW2. The discussion then turns to Eliyahu Mizrahi and to the page that was sent to him. The concluding section meticulously examines these magic recipes and the ritual acts they offer in the context of other insider sources, attesting to the nature and the symbolic language of Jewish aggressive magic.

Three Charms for Killing Adolf Hitler

Practical Kabbalah in WW2

in Aries




Cf. the concise discussion in MeirReḥovot ha-Nahar164–166.


MosheSefer Kets ha-Yamin48. On Fetaya’s life and the hagiographic writings on him see Devir Ish mi-Beth Leḥem Yehuda. The stories about him expelling spirits are an important link in the tradition known as the dybbuk. On this phenomenon see Chajes Between Worlds; Goldish Spirit Possession in Judaism.


ShabtaiSefer Toledot Menachem48. On the pamphlet see Fetaya Maḥberet Asirei ha-Tikvah. Printed on the cover is a picture of Rachel’s Tomb a key location in the activity discussed here (below).


FreimanPoteaḥ She’arim135–136. The tears motif is further developed in the account of Ilana Devir Fetaya’s granddaughter. Her story reflects the later family memory of the event and as usual in hagiographic literature miraculous motifs are pervasive. According to her at two o’clock in the afternoon after Fetaya had filled the cup with tears he drank it. Suddenly he spread his hands to the sides and fainted. When they woke him up he said he had seen Rachel coming out of her grave saying that she “now raises to heaven to bring the messiah … In the evening all heard that at two o’clock that afternoon the Germans headed by Rommel had retreated from their plan and that was a miracle!” Devir Ish mi-Beth Leḥem Yehuda 235–236.


MutzafiOlamo shel Tsaddik88–89.




GruzmanImru Tsaddik203. Gruzman also tells there that at the time regular study at the yeshivot was interrupted and all moved instead to study the laws on kiddush ha-Shem (martyrology). Cf. Leibowitz Sefer Kol Yehuda vol. 2 178–179. On the idea of multi-focal prayer see Meir ‘The Eclectic Kabbalah’.


HennigMoshe Ish ha-Elokim147–150; Yehudioff Or Ḥadash 42–45. R. Israel Abuhatsera who died and was buried in Egypt is one of the most important holy figures among Moroccan Jews. The stories about Alfiah’s trip to Egypt are full of miracles and wonders as is common in hagiographies but there is seemingly no reason to doubt that the trip actually occurred.


ZusmanMi-Beḥirei Tsaddikia168.


HennigMoshe Ish ha-Elokim145.


MutzafiOlamo shel Tsaddik89.


RivlinThe Targum Poetry73–78. The quotes are from pp. 73 76.


Thompson‘The Folklore of Mossoul’ 101. Another version of the recipe is found in manuscript Montserrat Or. 54 34b (F 10023 in the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts). On this late eighteenth century manuscript see Verman ‘Signor Tranquillo’s Magic Notebook’ 234.


FrazerLectures37–40; idem The Golden Bough 11–12.


Thompson‘The Folklore of Mossoul’99.


See for example Gaster‘The Wisdom of the Chaldeans’350; Naveh and Shaked Magic Spells and Formulae 57 216; Schäfer and Shaked Magische Texte vol. 1 137–138.


Thompson‘The Folklore of Mossoul’105.


Thompson‘The Folklore of Mossoul’103.


Gaster‘The Wisdom of the Chaldeans’350.


See Idel‘Shlomo Molkho’194; Tishbi Paths of Faith and Apostasy 59–60.

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