top of page

Rabbi Yeshaya Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz the Shelah HaKadosh the Shelah HaKadosh

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

It’s said that very few Tzaddikim merited to have the appellation

“HaKadosh” (the holy one) added to his name. One of them was the Arizal (R’

Yitzhak Luria) and another one, of course, Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz. R’ Yeshaya

was nicknamed the Shelah HaKadosh after his masterpiece on the Torah and

Kabbalah called Shnei Luchot HaBrit (two commandment tablets). The Shelah is

also best known for his famous and powerful prayers we recited on the day

before Rosh Chodesh (new month) Sivan and Nissan.

Living between 1565-1630, the Shelah HaKadosh was one of the leading

kabbalists of Safed but died in Tiberias. His innovations on Torah are cherished by

all groups of Jews both in Israel and in the Diaspora.

Why Holy?

A question however, begs to be answered: Why is the Shelah one of the

few Rabbis of the previous generations called “holy”? This is a very complex

question, but, as a certain rabbi once taught that “a question is a window through

which we can see outside”, which means that even if we don’t answer it directly,

we can learn a lot from analyzing it.

What makes someone holy? The deeper books teach that holiness come

from Hashem. As we emulate Him, we become more like Him.

R’ Yosef Gikatilla teaches that as a person separates from the physical

world and works on acquiring true fear of Heaven, he can receive divine

inspiration and the Shekhina herself begins teaching him the deepest secrets of

Torah. There have been many Tzadikim that went on that path of purification and

by isolating themselves have merited to suddenly begin speaking wondrous Torah

that’s never been heard before. But it has to be genuine. The same thing

happened to R’ Menachem Rekanati, who, at the advanced age of 84 received the

visit of an angel who gave him some of the water from the “Well of Miriam” to

drink and, in the next 2 years wrote most of his commentary on the Torah!

The Shnei Luchot Habrit is an encyclopedic work with truly new

interpretations on the Torah and Talmud. It shows not only the genius of the

Shela but also how pure and holy he was. This is not a work someone can do

through “smarts” alone, but that was, without a doubt, received from Above.

Fascinatingly enough, the Chida writes that he found in the Seder HaDorot,

who himself found in the writings of R’ Leib of Slutzk that the soul of the Gaon R’

Yeshayahu Horowitz had the soul of Ruth in him!

The taste of prohibitions

The Torah commanded us many prohibitions. This is in order to safeguard

our holiness and bring us closer to Hashem. R’ Avraham Horowitz, son of the

Shelah writes that his father wrote a brilliant explanation on the taste of


In Tractate Chullin (109B), Yalta the wife of Rav Nachman kept asking her

husband the many parallels that were permitted for every forbidden thing. For

example, the Torah has forbidden us the fat (Chelev) of cattle but it has permitted

us the fat of wild beasts, it has forbidden us swine's flesh but it has permitted us

the brain of the shibbuta (a type of fish). After asking a few more equivalents, she

reaches the prohibition of milk and meat. What is the equivalent to that? Rav

Nachman told his attendants to give her “roasted udder” to see how it would

taste like.

The Shelah HaKadosh gives a fascinating explanation on why the Talmud

had to list all these equivalents: He teaches us that a person should not say “I

hate to eat pork, therefore I won’t”, rather, he should say “I wish I could eat

forbidden meats, but what can I do if my Father in Heaven forbade it?!”. This is a

truly faithful child, and so the Torah specifically gave us a substitute taste for each

forbidden thing!

There’s a well-known segulah attributed to an unknown Kabbalist from the

Shelah HaKadosh for praying with purity. It involves passing your right hand over

your forehead and reciting the verse from Psalms 51:12: "Create in me God a pure

heart, and renew within me a pure spirit." If a foreign thought comes to you during a

prayer when you are not permitted by halacha to interrupt [verbally], be quiet for a

minute, pass your hand over your brow, and say this verse mentally. Then immediately

you will be able to pray with intention.

May the memory of the Tzaddik R’ Yeshaya Horowitz be for a blessing!

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

112 views0 comments


bottom of page