I'll give him this, Tzvi (a former Hollywood screenwriter turned BT) has a very poetic writing style.
“The rabbi wants to talk with you,” he said.
After a moment, a rich sefardic accent sounded over the cell phone, followed by a river of blessings. The truth is, the Hebrew came out so fast, I had trouble understanding every word. The startling thing was that each blessing was like a ballistic missile targeted for precisely my life, my problems, and my ups and downs in serving Hashem [G-d], as if the rabbi was looking through a window into our house.
I can honestly say I have yet to receive a ballistic-missile-like blessing. Maybe one of those would fix me up.
The rabbi's blessings are one thing, but the scary bit is his miracle-cure advice. According to Tzvi, the Rabbi suggested the following for his father, who had one blocked artery and another on its way:
“Your father is depressed and extremely nervous,” he continued. “He worries over every small thing. The arteries in his neck are clogging, but he needn’t worry about that. He needs to get more fresh air, that’s all, and take him to the shopping mall where he can see lots of people in order to cheer him up.”
“Uh oh,” I thought, certain that the rabbi was going to turn his x-ray vision on me. But instead, he started speaking about problems of the circulation system. Gently, without mentioning any wrongdoing, he led us to understand that transgressions, and improper character traits like anger and depression, affect the nefesh (soul), and the nefesh effects the blood, and the blood circulates to all of the organs of the body, eventually causing a disorder in the region that corresponds to the transgression or faulty attribute...
Rabbi, what the hell are you talking about?
Oh, but there's more.
The following Thursday morning, I returned to Bnei Brak with a list of questions for the rabbi. Once again the waiting room was filled with people. The rabbi nodded when I entered the synagogue, and continued on with his prayers. I sat down near his desk, waiting for an opportunity to ask my questions. After a while I realized that without an official place on the list, I wouldn’t be permitted to talk with the rabbi. But no one asked to me leave, so I sat there as inconspicuously as possible, happy to be in his presence and the special atmosphere of holiness that surrounds him.
Suddenly, a man burst into the study area followed by a woman in what I guessed was her ninth month of pregnancy. The hysterical husband held up an x-ray and shouted, “They want to operate! They want to operate!”
“Of course they want to operate,” the rabbi said calmly. “Your wife has a massive growth in her stomach.”
She wasn’t pregnant, I realized. Her over-swollen belly was the result of a malignancy.
“They want to operate on Tuesday,” the husband shouted. “Here’s the x-ray. Here’s the x-ray!”
“What do you expect?” the rabbi told him. “You don’t keep the the laws of family purity.”
Suddenly, the husband was silent.
“And you are violent with your wife, demanding your way, without thinking about what she wants, or maybe I am wrong?”
The man looked as if he wanted to disappear under the table.
“Those are very big sins,” the rabbi said. “Do you regret them?”
“Yes,” the man said meekly.
“Do you promise that from now on you will keep the laws of family purity and be considerate of your wife?”
“Yes,” the man repeated.
Rabbi Leon turned to the woman. “The growth in your belly is your anger at your husband. But you have to realize that he never learned otherwise. He doesn’t mean wrong. He’s a high tempered person. He doesn’t know any better. But now he will change. Can you forgive him?”
The woman nodded, yes.
“Give your belly a hit,” the rabbi told her.
Gently, she tapped on her stomach.
“Harder!” the rabbi said.
Again, she tapped on her belly.
“Harder!” the rabbi commanded.
This time she gave her belly a punch. Like a punctured beach ball that loses its air, the big round swelling in her stomach simply disappeared. I was sitting no more than a few feet away. Right before my eyes, the swelling shrunk and vanished. The woman burst into tears. Once again, the husband started shouting in utter disbelief, “But I have the x-ray! I have the x-ray!”
“You can throw the x-ray in the garbage,” the rabbi told him. “It’s over. It’s gone. Your wife is healthy again.”
“But the operation. The appointment is next week,” the dazed husband muttered. “What will I tell the doctor?”
“You won’t have to tell him. He will see for himself.”
Then Rabbi Leon turned to the woman, who was still weeping in shock. “Why are you crying?” he asked. “You should be happy. HaKodesh Baruch Hu has done a miracle for you.”
*Slams head against the wall*
In a short time, tables were laden with a kingly feast for the seventy people present. The rabbi told us to make our blessings over the food out loud so that everyone could answer “Amen.” After completing the Tehillim and the readings from the Zohar, the rabbi told everyone to wash hands for the meal from the nearby water pipe, whose source was from the rivers of the Garden of Eden. During the meal, the rabbi gave a dvar Torah, saying that rains are held back because of transgressions to the Covenant-Brit, as explained in the Zohar, regarding the Shema:
“Those who do not guard the sign of the holy Brit [Covenant of sexual purity] cause a separation between Israel and their Father in Heaven, as is written, And you turn aside and worship other gods, and bow down to them. And afterward, it says, He shut up the heaven, so that there be no rain. For to be false to the holy Covenant is considered like bowing down to another god. But when the holy Covenant is properly guarded by mankind, HaKodesh Baruch Hu showers blessings from above down to this world.” (Zohar, Bereshit 189b)
Immediately after the meal, the rabbi had everyone stand in four lines, facing all four directions while he stood in the middle. In unison, in loud, fervent voices, everyone recited a kabbalistic prayer based on the incense service. Even before we had finished, there was the sound of distant thunder over the peaks of the Hermon. At first, we thought it might be tank fire on the Lebanon border. The sun was still bright in the afternoon sky. The thundering grew louder as we continued to pray. The first drops of rain fell while we were packing the tables back into the minibus at the end of the tikun. On the drive back to Bnei Brak, the sky darkened, and rain poured down in gushes. Hailstones bigger than marbles rumbled atop of car roofs, shattering windshields. Four students collected insurance to compensate for the damage. To be sure, we were not the only people in Israel praying for rain at that time. But it is hard to say that the sudden rainstorm was a mere coincidence after our prayers. Plus, it wasn’t the first time that rain fell after a tikun by Rabbi Leon and his students.
I like how Tzvi's first thought is not, "maybe praying didn't cause the rain," but rather, "who knows? Maybe someone else's super-prayers caused the rain." Incidentally, Tzvi, who prayed for skull-crushing hailstones? How can a water pipe be from the Garden of Eden? How is masturbation "turning to another god?" Am I just missing something here?
For the rabbi, everything is very logical, you see. Sickness is caused by God punishing you for being a twit. You get angry at your husband, you get stomach cancer. Innocently touch a statue in a church, God withers your arm. Touch yourself, God turns the fertile crescent into the Sahara. Oh yeah, but he's still a good God. In fact, for questioning His goodness, you just got cursed. Let's say... boils.
Apparently the good rabbi can even fight computer viruses.
One of the Rabbi’s students, Yigal Vanazi, works in Tel Aviv for a computer software firm. One time, the company was attacked by a virus, and 180 computers shut down. For two days they struggled in vain on their own to find a solution. When a company specializing in computer viruses asked for $400,000 to fix the problem, Yigal thought of the Rabbi.
“I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me immediately,” he relates. “I called up the Rabbi and told him the problem. He instructed me to put my hand on one of the computers. After a minute, he said he saw the virus, and described it to me. Later he showed me the sketch he made in the yeshiva. It looked just like diagrams of computer viruses that I had seen with a long curving tail. Then, over the phone, he told me that he had caught the virus and locked it up in a spiritual safe. He told me to hit the “enter” key on the keyboard. Immediately, the computer lit up, along with all of the 180 computers in the building. It was amazing!”
What the hell is a spiritual safe? And why is it cool for the rabbi to deprive a virus-fighting company of THEIR income? Maybe that other company should hire their own miracle-worker. What do you mean you don't know why it didn't occur to you immediately? Hey, I can't find my car keys- I know, the Kabbalist!
Agh. I read things like this and start to understand how strange- and challenging- a world the Haskalah guys must have had to deal with.