The Magical Ba’al Shem of London


Rabbi, kabbalist, alchemist, sorcerer. The CV of Rabbi Dr. Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk, otherwise known as the Ba’al Shem of London, boasts no shortage of extraordinary feats.

Born in 1708 somewhere in Europe (sources point to either Bavaria or present-day Ukraine), the Ba’al Shem of London was known to keep a magic trick or two up his sleeve. One observer claimed to have seen a wheel come loose from his carriage, only to have it trail behind him the rest of his journey. Another swore the rabbi alchemized 3 shirts and a ram’s horn into coal. Among his other legendary feats: keeping candles burning forever and telekinetically transporting stolen items back to his house.

After narrowly escaping authorities in Westphalia who aimed to burn him at the stake for sorcery, the Ba’al Shem of London settled in England.

Want to know more? Swing by The United Synagogue of London to read his diary—or at least to try to. Written in cryptic Hebrew, the volume contains his dreams, booklists, recipes, and, of course, the kabbalistic names of angels.

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