Master Kabbalists

Rav Yehuda Brandwein

Before his death, Rav Ashlag told Rav Brandwein that he would soon merit his own students, and that one of them would help bring this wisdom to the world, amid great protest and scorn.

A gentle and devout soul, Rav Brandwein was a man of the people. He evoked a deep love in all those with whom he came in contact. Both atheists and pious men had great reverence for him. He had an uncommon ability to straddle two worlds - climbing scaffolding on construction sites to lay bricks by daylight, then scaling the highest of spiritual worlds by moonlight.

In the way of all great kabbalists, Rav Brandwein's essence and character was spiritual rather than religious or political, his love transcending religious and racial divisions that had been so prevalent during those turbulent times.  When a poverty-stricken Arab came to his construction site for a job in the early 1930s, the kabbalist saw the soul of the man, the common spark of divinity that exists within all of us, and gave the man employment, and a name to hide his identity.

The lineage of Rav Brandwein is notable. He was a family descendant of the esteemed Rav Dov Baer, a great spiritual leader in Russia during the late 18th century. Rav Dov Baer was the successor to the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, and one of the greatest sages of the last 500 years.

After the bloodshed of the 1967 war in Israel, Rav Brandwein became the first citizen in the country to settle in Jerusalem. Many years later, when Jerusalem became one city, an Arab paid a visit to Brandwein's home. He brought along a barrel overflowing with fresh grapefruits. It was the same Arab that Brandwein gave employment to some 35 years before. The man's eyes were filled with tears. He told Rav Brandwein that he had waited all these years, until after the war, so that he could finally offer his heartfelt thanks for the kindness that had been shown him.

Rav Brandwein's acts of kindness and tolerance for everyone he met radiated this spiritual Light. And it warmed the soul of anyone in his presence. Therein lies the true power of Kabbalah.

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