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(photo credit: IDF)
Jewish mysticism and military might will join forces when two major-league Kabbalists reveal some of the secrets of Judaism's most esoteric teachings to about 500 IDF soldiers on Lag Ba'omer.
Rabbi Ya'acov Hillel, head of the Ahavat Shalom Yeshiva and Rabbi David Batzri, head of Yeshivat Hashalom are scheduled to address the soldiers in Jerusalem Sunday on the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who, according to Jewish tradition, authored the Zohar, the basic text of Kabbala.
Batzri's son, Yitzhak, who is also slated to speak before the soldiers, said Kabbalists and soldiers had complementary roles in fighting Israel's enemies.
"In Genesis we learn that Jacob wrestled with an angel and the angel was overcome before he confronted his estranged brother, Essau," said Batzri. "We learn from this that in every generation there are two planes of struggle: The primary one is spiritual and the secondary one is material. One takes place in the heavenly realm, the other on the battlefield."
According to Jewish custom, the confrontation between Essau and Jacob is a paradigm for all future conflicts between the Jewish nation and its enemies.
Both Batzri and Hillel are students of Rabbi Salman Mutzafi, who was a senior member of the virulently anti-Zionist and now defunct Sephardi Edah Haredit. Like their teacher, neither Batzri nor Hillel vote in Israeli elections.
"We do not want to be participants in a state that passes laws inimical to Judaism," said Yitzhak Batzri.
But Batzri said that defending the Jewish people was a tremendous merit.
"By protecting the Jewish people those soldiers are doing an incredibly important mitzva," he said. "Only Torah study is more important. But if a Jew is not learning Torah then he is obligated to enlist in the army."
Although Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is considered the quintessential Jewish mystic, he was also one of the most militant opponents of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Bar Yochai was forced to go into hiding after openly criticizing the Roman occupation of Judea. His teacher, Rabbi Akiva, supported the failed Bar Kochva Rebellion against the Romans.
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