The Jewish Death Curse


Amid Israeli politician Naftali Bennett’s recent assortment of junk mail, hate mail, and fan mail lay one unusual item: an ancient Jewish curse called a Pulsa Dinura (Aramaic for “lashes of fire”).

But Bennett, who has angered Haredim by leaving them for the majority coalition, need not worry: He has halacha on his side. Jewish law condemns praying for the death of another human being, instead encouraging prayers that call for the death of the evil within an individual.

And unlike the very real envelope received by Bennett, Talmudic references to the Pulsa Dinura are decidedly metaphorical in nature. The targets of the curse are all either angelic beings or deceased individuals meriting spiritual retribution. In the Zohar, the Pulsa Dinura is characterized as a positive force that protects the Shechina, God’s earthly presence, and as a benevolent light that rewards the archangel Metatron.

But whatever the term’s origins, Bennett can take solace in its modern-day manifestation: an aphorism within the Israeli political establishment: “You haven’t made it in Israeli politics until you’ve been cursed by the Pulsa Dinura.” Mazel tov to him.

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