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Home > Horror News > Western Horror News > The Sharon Death Curse
The Sharon Death Curse
By: RSS/News Feeds

Religions around the world have a long history of curses aimed at opponents. Therese Taylor describes a recent use of Kabbalism against the Israeli Prime Minister.

In July 2005, Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, was targeted by Jewish extremists with an ancient Kabbalistic death curse. This curse is known in the Aramaic language as a “pulsa denura” or “lash of fire”, and was motivated by opposition to the policy of withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza. This action against Sharon showed the combination of politics and religious extremism at the heart of the current Middle East crisis.

The curse also demonstrated how religious rituals can make symbols of hatred and past acts of violence to a believer. It recalled the Rabin assassination, and took place at the gravesite of a Zionist executed for an attempted assassination in the 1930s. Real history and the ineffable world of the supernatural were conjured up together.

The pulsa denura, like most curses, is understood to be dangerous to the person who casts it as well as the person at whom it is aimed. “We believe in God,” said Michael Ben-Horin, a settler in the Golan Heights who helped organise the rite. “I put myself in judgment before God. Either Sharon will die or I will.” At the time of writing, both are still alive.

The ceremony took place at midnight on the eve of the Sabbath, performed by a Kabbalist who led 20 men in prayer. One participant described it: “It was done in a beautiful cemetery with a thick forest around it, under a Full Moon. We performed it near the graveside of Shlomo Ben Yosef…”

While leading figures in the Israeli settler movement denounced the curse, it wasn’t the first such ceremony. The same group of hardliners used a curse against a previous Israeli Prime Minister, Yitshak Rabin, one month before his death in 1995. Rabin was shot dead by a ruthless assassin; while there was nothing mystical about that event, it’s possible that the curse emboldened some people to plot actual violence.

It is significant that the ritual was carried out at the grave of Shlomo Ben Yosef, who was executed in 1936, during the British Mandate, for violent acts that included shooting at a bus full of Arabs. Such activities by settlers wishing to halt the Gaza withdrawal were seen again during August 2005.

The letters pages of Israeli newspapers were full of opinions about the curse. One irritated writer exclaimed: “Sir, – These ‘extremists’ are a bunch of scoffers who make fun of God in order to get front-page coverage. Next thing they will do is construct a Golem to put up for the next elections.” But there were some who believed in it. Another correspondent stated: “I have been researching pulsa denura for years, and I am sorry to say that it is definitely a danger to the life or health of the target of that terrible curse.”

Dr Dov Schwartz, from Bar-Ilan University’s Talmud faculty, told the Jerusalem Post: “the pulsa denura curse is a recent evolution of the more widely known act of herem – the excommunication from the Jewish community of a person believed to be a criminal… and the first-known pulsa denura only occurred in 1958, after a person mysteriously died following an excommunication prayer.”

But popular rumour gives this curse a longer history. According to some, the ‘Curse of the Kennedys’ – the misfortunes that appear to haunt America’s famous political family – dates back to the 1940s when Joseph Kennedy, US ambassador to Britain, quarrelled with an eminent Polish rabbi, Aaron Kotler. He was said to have been cursed with a pulsa denura, which would continue to strike subsequent generations.

Australian Rabbi Chaim Gutnick acknowledged that such rumours about the Kennedy curse had circulated in the Jewish world since World War II. However, he said he did not believe Rabbi Kotler was responsible, because the late Rabbi was not a Kabbalist, and in any case, “It was not in his nature”.

Such destructive actions, seeking to channel hatred and malign thoughts, are part of the folklore of many religions. In Catholicism, the Virgin Mary is associated with mercy and love. Few realise that in pre-industrial Europe a number of Virgin Mary shrines celebrated her destructive powers; she was credited with the ability to cause sickness or death in those who had annoyed her devotees. Such places have a long history – Michael P Carroll wrote an entire book, Madonnas that Maim (1992), on their influence in Italy. Islamic legends too contain many tales of holy people whose miraculous abilities included the fatal curse. Religious authorities now denounce such tales, regarding the topic of curses as mere superstition, but an audience remains.

When informed by journalists that he was the subject of a death curse, Ariel Sharon laughed and asked when it would take effect. But Sharon is in his late seventies; this must give the creators of the death curse some hope. He cannot live forever, and his eventual death, whenever it takes place, may then be attributed to the successful workings of the curse.

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