Baal Shem of London
Baal Shem of London
Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk
|Died||17 April 1782 (aged 73–74)|
Falk was born in either Fürth in Bavaria or Pidhaytsi in Podolia. After having narrowly escaped being burnt at the stake by the authorities in Westphalia who had charged him with sorcery, the German Count Alexander Leopold Anton von Rantzau secretly gave him refuge in Holzminden. During this stay in 1736, Falk made his impressive kabbalistic performances in Rantzau’s castle witnessed by noblemen and Alexander’s son Count Georg Ludwig Albrecht von Rantzau. In his famous Mémoires du comte de Rantzow, which are referred to by many researchers as an original standard source, this young Count gives a thorough and detailed account of all these mystic demonstrations. Sometime after 1736, Falk arrived in London. He lived at 35 Prescott Street, London, United Kingdom and at Wellclose Square, London until his death. He was a neighbour of Emanuel Swedenborg and there is some evidence that he had a significant influence on him.
He died on 17 April 1782 and was buried in Alderney Road Cemetery, Mile End, London  Falk bequeathed in his will an annual sum of 100 pounds to the Great Synagogue of London as well as some Sefer Torahs.
Many stories exist regarding Falk's extraordinary powers. According to one account, Falk made secretive visits to Epping Forest in his carriage, where he was said to have buried some treasure. On one of these occasions a wheel came loose from the vehicle on the Whitechapel Road, but followed the carriage all the way to the forest. When Falk ran short of coal, he was said to have performed a magical feat involving three shirts and a ram's horn. Falk was also able to keep candles burning miraculously, and to transport objects from one place to another.
Falk kept a diary containing records of dreams and the Kabbalistic names of angels. This can be found in the library of the United Synagogue in London. In 2002 Michal Oron published the diary and a biography of Falk. The diary is written in Hebrew and is very cryptic. The diary was published together with the diary of Falk's assistant, Tsvee Hirsch of Kalish.
- 1.^ Variations of this portrait, originally subtitled "Baal Shem", are sometimes erroneously used to represent the Baal Shem Tov.
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