Kefitzat Haderech

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kefitzat Haderech (Hebrew: קְפִיצַת הַדֶּרֶךְ, Modern: Qəfiẓat haDéreḫ or Kfitzat haDérech, Tiberian: Qəp̄îṣáṯ hadDéreḵ) is a Jewish Kabbalistic term that literally means "contracting the path." The root kefatz, in this Talmudic context, means "to clench" (in modern Hebrew and other stages of the language, the word translates as "jump"): that is, the route itself is shortened. Kefitzat Haderech refers to miraculous travel between two distant places in a brief time. The Talmud[1] lists three biblical stories in which this miracle occurs. In early stories of the Chasidic movement, wonder-working rabbis are ascribed the ability to reach destinations with unnatural speed.[2]

In Agnon's work[edit]

Shmuel Yosef Agnon, an Israeli writer who won the 1966 Nobel Prize for literature, incorporates this phenomenon into some of his plots. In an Agnon story based on one of the above-mentioned Hasidic folktales, a righteous rabbi is given the gift of kfitzat haderech and uses it to "jump" into the treasuries of the Habsburg Empire, take sacks full of newly minted gold coins, and jump back to his shtetl, unnoticed by anybody. He uses the money to help poor or persecuted Jews, and the story implies that the power would be taken away should he take any of the gold for himself.

Later, when the Emperor plans to make decrees harmful to the Jews, the Rabbi uses his power of kfitzat haderech in order to jump into the audience chamber and beat the Emperor with his stick—being visible (and tangible) to the Emperor himself, but invisible to his councilors and guards.

Frank Herbert's Dune[edit]

Science fiction novelist Frank Herbert's concept for a messiah, the Kwisatz haderach, resembles and is strongly associated with Kefitzat Haderech, the "leap forward".[3] Emanuel Lotem's 1989 translation of Dune to Hebrew uses the concepts interchangeably.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BT Sanhedrin 95
  2. ^ Nigal. Chassidic Stories
  3. ^ Weingrad, Michael (March 29, 2015). "Jews of Dune". Jewish Review of Books.