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Rabbi Moshe pleaded with the holy Ari: “I know you have the power to tell me what have I done that requires rectification, from the day I was born until now.”

The “Holy Ari” Reads a Forehead

The “Holy Ari” Reads a Forehead

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The “Holy Ari” Reads a Forehead
Rabbi Moshe pleaded with the holy Ari: “I know you have the power to tell me what have I done that requires rectification, from the day I was born until now.”

The pious and well-known scholar Rabbi Moshe Galante of Tsfat (Safed) heard an account from his brother about the extraordinary holiness of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Ari), the foremost Kabbalist of the generation. He decided to seek his advice. Perhaps the Ari could help him to further perfect himself, he thought excitedly.

“Frankly, I never thought before that you were anyone special,” Rabbi Moshe said, “but now that I have heard differently, I have come to request of you a tikkun [rectification] for my soul.”

“Why ask me?” asked the Ari modestly. “I am not a prophet.”

“Why ask me?” asked the Ari modestly. “I am not a prophet.”

After several further rounds of request and denial, Rabbi Moshe pleaded: “It is said that you have the power to discern the root of a person’s soul and his previous incarnations, but I am not asking for that. I just want to know what have I done that requires rectification, from the day my soul was born into this body until now, so that I will not have to undergo any further reincarnations. I know you can see such things on a person’s forehead; please read mine!”

At this impassioned plea, the Ari gazed intently at R. Moshe for a moment and murmured, “Borderline theft.”

Instantly R. Moshe jumped up and ran off, not even saying goodbye. As soon as he reached his home, he stripped off his clothes and donned sackcloth and ashes. Throwing himself to the ground, he cried out to G‑d, weeping and slapping himself the entire time. Finally, he sent for all the employees of his textile business and demanded that if anyone felt that he or she had been shortchanged or paid unfairly in any way, to please present a claim now, even for the tiniest amount. When they all denied any wrongdoing on his part, R. Moshe exclaimed: “What are you doing to me! Don’t you see what condition I am in? The Ari has said that I am guilty of borderline theft.”

...finally one woman stepped forward and took a small sum.

He then spread out a large amount of money before them and said: “Each of you, take however much you wish. If I owe you anything, then the debt is cancelled; if not, it is a present.” Even then no one responded, until finally one woman stepped forward and took a small sum.

R. Moshe then hurried back to the Ari, who assured him that his forehead no longer revealed any trace of sin. He went on to explain that the woman who had taken the money did a delicate kind of weaving, and it could be considered that she deserved a slightly higher wage than the other workers.

Needless to say, after this episode R. Moshe always acted towards the Ari with the greatest of respect.

Connection to Weekly Reading: skilled craftsmanship by women (35:25–26).


Translated and freely adapted from Shivchei HaAri.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Moshe Galante was one of four (along with Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of Shulchan Aruch) to receive semichah from Rabbi Yaakov Beirav in the “renewal of semichah” controversy. He and his brother R. Avraham (1540–1588), who subsequently became the city’s chief rabbi, lived in Tsfat in the 1500s.

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbalah Online.

Yerachmiel Tilles is the co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed, and was its educational director for 18 years. He is the creator of www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org and currently the director of both sites. He is also a well-known storyteller, a columnist for numerous chassidic publications, and a staff rabbi on AskMoses.com, as well as and the author of "Saturday Night, Full Moon": Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes.
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ruth housman marshfield hills, ma March 13, 2012

a reading I found this interesting..., the Ari was treated as if he had these psychic powers from being a holy man. It's an intriguing story, and it seems only extreme sensitivity could have produced this story about a man who was somehow "cheating" because it doesn't sound likely he was a bad man, but rather, himself, had very sensitive antennae and wanted to do what was right by those by worked for him. Reply

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