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Are There Flying Rabbis Or Are There Flying None?

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Flying Rabbis

c.e.k. from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Thanks again for your very informative and enjoyable service. I promise you I'm serious about this question, I'm not joking or trying to make fun. I have recently been exposed, through a student film, to a reference about "flying rabbis." Apparently, throughout history this is a well-documented phenomenon. Apparently, the last one died within the past 100 years or so. Could you recommend some easily available (in the US) books on the subject? If this film was merely generating a fictional hoax, I apologize. If not, I eagerly await your scholarship on the matter. Shalom.


Dear c.e.k.,

Jewish tradition does relate incidents of people, both righteous and wicked, who were able to fly. The righteous people did so using holy methods, while the wicked ones resorted to the occult to do so.

There are stories of a particular Rabbi who lived in Egypt early this century who they claim was able to fly. His name was Rabbi Abuchatzeira. His descendants live in Israel and are a famous family of Kabbalists. There is also a story about the Baal Shem Tov and one of his disciples flying across a river. As with many of these kinds of stories, if you believe all of them you are too gullible, but if you don't believe any you are too cynical.

We are cautioned against telling too many "miracle stories." A person is considered righteous or wicked based on his deeds alone, and so the ability to do miracles doesn't really prove anything.

Regarding Judaism and the occult, I suggest the book Faith and Folly by Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Hillel.

Sources:

  • Yalkut Shimoni Shemos 14:235
  • Targum Yonatan Bamidbar 31:8


 
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