The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe describes:

"'a real cheirem as prescribed by Kabbalah' requires the following: a court of seventy-two rabbis fast for forty consecutive days (excluding Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh), with six non-fast days interspersed within this period. They recite Tikkun Chatzos and other special prayers, and certain chapters of Tehillim each day. They regularly immerse themselves in the mikveh, and are careful not to speak of any subject that is not holy, even in Hebrew. After the Maariv prayer at the conclusion of the fortieth day of the fast — while they are still fasting — they spend the whole night studying Torah.

While it is still night, about two hours before dawn, the Holy Ark is opened, and the chief of the court reads the text of the cheirem three times. They then sound the shofar: tekiah shevarim teruah tekiah. They remove their shoes and sit upon the ground like mourners. Afterwards, they immerse themselves and daven with great devotion. They daven Minchah early, and only then do they eat their meal: bread dipped in salt, and water."

When this occurs, the person's soul is, (may G-d preserve us):

"cut off from the source of his soul as it once existed on High."

This has been done apparently only three times in history. To Yeravam ben Nevat, Elisha ben Avuyah (or "Acher"), and יש"ו.

The person to whom this is done, now having been cut off from "on High", inevitably converts to another religion, (or athiesm, possibly).

My questions are:

  • What's the source for this?
  • Are there sifrei kabbalah that describe this?
  • What about the three people to whom this was done? Are they mentioned regarding this?
  • Kabbalistically, what does it mean that their soul is "cut off from the source"?
  • BTW, according to the Talmud Yersushalmi, Acher did teshuva before he died.
    – avi
    Nov 24, 2011 at 13:46
  • @avi Interesting. I suppose that makes the question of what exactly being "cut off" means, stronger, if one can still do teshuva. Whats the source in yerushalmi?
    – HodofHod
    Nov 27, 2011 at 21:40
  • @HodofHod what source are you looking source? Which Sefer? Dec 23, 2011 at 18:56
  • 1
    Thanks! And thanks to @ShmuelBrill for offering an extra incentive!
    – HodofHod
    Dec 23, 2011 at 20:13
  • 1
    I Googled the words "חרם על פי קבלה" and came up with only one result, this page in Das Yiddishe Vort (I highlighted the words on it). It's almost word for word (as far as I can tell with my almost no knowledge of Yiddish). It's apparently from an article called "Der Rabbi Un Der Maskil" by Nisim Gardan (?). I don't know Yiddish, but it doesn't seem to quote a source.
    – b a
    Dec 5, 2012 at 5:46

2 Answers 2


I think you are referring to this:

Pulsa Denurah

The source and the sifrei kabbalah that describe it are the Seforim Sefer ha-Razim and Harba de-Moshe . I don't know three people there are a lot more not mentioned in the article either and cut off means Dead in most cases.

  • I don't think the description given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe fits this pulsa d'nura.
    – HodofHod
    Dec 26, 2011 at 2:09
  • what in particular tells you that? Dec 26, 2011 at 3:02
  • Pulsa d'nura seems to be some sort of tortuous punishment that ends in death. The Rebbe describes a relatively modest punishment that severs the soul's heavenly bond and ends in conversion.
    – HodofHod
    Dec 26, 2011 at 3:10
  • In addition, the methodology the Rebbe describes seems a lot more complex, especially in that it requires 72 rabbonim to participate.
    – HodofHod
    Dec 26, 2011 at 3:40

The idea of being "cut off from its source" I believe is also related in Mesechet Chagiga (I think around 14a or so). When Rabbi Meir asked Acher to do teshuva, Acher related he was riding on a horse on Yom Kippur past a shul, where a voice emenated "All you come back to me, all except Acher", to which he took it to mean that he could never repent. According to commentaries there, the real meaning behind this is that G-d is always available to offer 'help', as it were, to those who want to repent. In Acher's case, no such help was available to him. However, if he himself repented, his repentance would be accepted. This is found in Acher's case in a couple of ways: 1) Acher's daughter came begging for alms once to a Rabbi. The Rabbi was astonished that there should be descendants of Acher, after which a heavenly fire burned him. If Acher truly was unable to repent, he would not have descendants. 2) In the 10th chapter of Sanhedrin, the Mishna relates a series of people who will not be resurrected at the end of days because of their sins. Acher's name is not mentioned in this list.

  • 2
    Your answer doesnt address the fundamental basis for the question, namely, the special cheirem described therein. I'm looking specifically for sources that speak of the kabbalistic aspect of this cheirem.
    – HodofHod
    Nov 28, 2011 at 23:13

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