Yitzchak Ginsburgh (born 14 November 1944) is an American-born Israeli rabbi. He is currently the president of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshivah in the settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank, and the spiritual leader of the kabbalistic Gal Einai movement. Many of his students and followers were formerly associated with the ideology of religious Zionism. He has published numerous books. Ginsburgh is affiliated with the Chabad movement, though his yeshiva is not.
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While living in Philadelphia, he met a descendant of the Nadvorna Chassidic dynasty and at the age of 14 became a baal teshuva. He attended the University of Chicago, majoring in mathematics and philosophy. He then completed a Masters in Mathematics at the Belfer Graduate School of Yeshiva University. At the age of 22, he decided to devote himself entirely to Torah study.
In 1965 he went to Israel and studied at the Yeshivah of Kamenitz in Jerusalem. He spent 1966 through 1967 at the Slonim shul in Tiberias. After the Six Day War, Ginsburgh went to Jerusalem and was one of the first to move into the old Jewish quarter. He started to study the Chabad school of Chassidus in depth. That year he visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and remained in Crown Heights, Brooklyn for several months. When he returned to Israel he married and began to teach Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, and Chassidut to a group of students in Jerusalem.
In 1983 he was asked by Jerusalem rabbi and philanthropist Yosef Eliyahu Deutch to serve as head of the Shuva Yisra'el Yeshivah on Yo'el Street. Rabbi Ginsburgh gave frequent classes on a wide variety of subjects, from the exoteric to the esoteric parts of the Torah. Many were taped and form a large part of the 15,000 lecture archive of his classes.
Until the retreat of the IDF from the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus during the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2001), Ginsburgh served as the Rosh Yeshivah of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshivah (then located at Joseph's Tomb) and as the head of a Kollel in the ancient Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue in Jericho. He has resumed his teaching at the Od Yosef Chai Yeshivah since its relocation to Yitzhar.
Ginsburgh lives with his family in Kfar Chabad, Israel and delivers classes throughout Israel, the United States and France. He devotes most of his time and resources to writing and publishing original works on Kabbalah and Chassidut that discuss a range of topics, from commentaries on the Chumash to the relationship between Torah and science. These books are published by Gal Einai, his organization, whose name is taken from Psalms 119:18.
He has published over 70 volumes of original work in Hebrew and another 13 in English.
His students include:
- Rabbi Shalom Arush, Head of the Chut shel Chesed Yeshivah and Institute;
- Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of Yitzhar.
- Sarah Yehudit Schneider, founding director of A Still Small Voice.
Religious and political views
Ginsburgh advocates the reinstitution of Jewish monarchy in the Land of Israel. He opposes efforts to remove Jewish settlements from the West Bank and encourages his followers to attempt to dissuade soldiers and police officer from carrying out evacuations. He advocates "Hebrew labor" − the idea that Jews should only employ other Jews — and believes that Gentiles should not be allowed to live in the Land of Israel, unless they become the "righteous of the nations".
Ginsburgh also supports the rebuilding of the Jewish temple, believing that this would facilitate spiritual elevation and hasten redemption. He favors the practice of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In his 2007 book Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations Ginsburg writes:
“Ours is the first generation in modern times to understand the truly universal human condition and to seek to bring all peoples of the earth together in peace and harmony. We are the first generation to truly understand that we are faced with the challenge of either inhabiting our planet harmoniously or not inhabiting it at all. Filling our future is the fundamentalism that threatens to pit one religion against another. But, our different relationships and understandings of G-d should not be the reason for conflict but the source of goodwill in building our relationships with one another and our ability to understand others”.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has called Ginsburg "a well known radical on his views on Israel Arab public," noting his "prosecution in the past for incitement to racism after having published a book insisting that there is no place for Arabs in the state of Israel."
During the trial of seven of his students for the murder of an Arab girl during a violent settler rampage through the Palestinian West Bank village of Kifl Haris, Ginsburg said that in religious law, given the inequality between Arab and Jewish blood, Arabs who kill Jews warrant punishment, but Jews who kill Arabs should be let off. The Ashkenazi chief rabbi Avraham Shapira condemned Ginzburg's views, one of the few of the Israeli rabbinate to do so. He was cited as asserting at the time that: “Jewish blood is not the same as Arab blood. He who is not a Jew, and throws stones, or threatens Jews, comes under the (biblical injunction) 'you should kill him first.'”
In 1989, Ginsburg was quoted in the New York Times regarding his views on recent attacks against Palestinians and the rise of racism in Israel:
Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg had offered biblical justification for the view that the spilling of non-Jewish blood was a lesser offense than the spilling of Jewish blood. "Any trial based on the assumption that Jews and goyim are equal is a total travesty of justice", he said.
In 1994, Ginsburgh received widespread criticism for his article "Baruch Hagever" in which he praised Baruch Goldstein who had massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Rabbi Ginsburgh wrote that it is possible to view Baruch Goldstein's act as following five Halachic principles, namely "sanctification of God's name", "saving life" (referring to testimonies that he had allegedly received regarding a planned Arab massacre of Jews), "revenge", "eradication of the seed of Amalek" and "war". He called the massacre a Mitzvah. Motti Inbari commented on this:
In his writings, Ginzburg gives prominence to Halachic and kabbalistic approaches that emphasize the distinction between Jew and non-Jew (Gentile), imposing a clear separation and hierarchy in this respect. He claims that while the Jews are the Chosen People and were created in God's image, the Gentiles do not have this status.... Ginzburg stated that, on the theoretical level, if a Jew requires a liver transplant to survive, it would be permissible to seize a Gentile and take their liver forcefully. From this point only a small further step is required to actively encourage and support the killing of non-Jews, as Ginzburg did in the case of Goldstein.
In 1996, Ginsburg was held in administrative detention for two months for his pronouncements, but later released without charge. In 2003, he was indicted on charges of encouraging racism against Arabs in his book "Tsav Hasha'a - Tipul Shoresh" ("Order of the Day - Radical Treatment"). In 2002, Haaretz reported that Israel's Religious Affairs Ministry had been providing funding to an organization, Gal Eini established to distribute Ginsburg's writings and speeches. In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead right-wing groups brought pamphlets onto IDF Bases, including one purporting to be from pupils of Ginsburg which read "As for the population [of Gaza], it is not innocent".
Works in English
- The Hebrew Letters: Channels of Creative Consciousness (1995, hardcover, 501 pp.)
- The Mystery of Marriage: How to Find Love and Happiness in Married Life (1999, hardcover, 499 pp.)
- Awakening the Spark Within: Five Dynamics of Leadership That Can Change the World (2001, hardcover, 200 pp.)
- Transforming Darkness Into Light: Kabbalah and Psychology (2002, hardcover, 192 pp.)
- Rectifying the State of Israel: A Political Platform Based on Kabbalah (2002, hardcover, 230 pp.)
- Living In Divine Space: Kabbalah and Meditation (2003, hardcover, 288 pp.)
- Body, Mind, Soul: Kabbalah on Human Physiology, Disease and Healing (2004, hardcover, 341 pp.)
- Consciousness & Choice: Finding Your Soulmate (2004, hardcover, 283 pp.)
- The Art of Education: Integrating Ever-New Horizons (2005, hardcover, 303 pp.)
- What You Need to Know About Kabbalah (2006, hardcover, 190 pp.)
- Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations (2007, hardcover 200 pp.)
- Anatomy of the Soul (2008, hardcover 144 pp.)
- A Sense of the Supernatural: Interpretation of Dreams and Paranormal Experiences (2008, hardcover 207pp.)
- Lectures on Torah and Modern Physics (2013, hardcover 180pp.)
Works in Hebrew
- Adamah Shamayim Tehom, 5759 (1999, hardcover, 374 pp.)
- Ahava, 5771 (2010, hardcover, 264 pp.)
- Al Yisrael Ga’avato, 5759 (1999, hardcover, pp. 392)
- Ani L’Dodi, 5758 (1998, hardcover, 188 pp.)
- Anochi V’HaYeladim, 5759 (1999, hardcover, 126 pp.)
- B’Ita Achisheina, 5763 (2003, hardcover, 372 pp.)
- Brit Hanisuin, 5757 (1997, hardcover, 142 pp.)
- Chasdei David HaNe’emanim, 5764 (2004, hardcover, 500-600 pp. ea. 5 vols.)
- Chatan Im Kallah, 5765 (2005, hardcover, 354 pp.)
- Einayich Breichot B’Cheshbon, 5771 (2010, hardcover, 288pp.)
- Eisa Einai, 5758 (1998, hardcover, 412 pp.)
- El Olam Hakabala, 5768 (2008, hardcover, 280 pp.)
- Emunah v’Muda’ut, 5759 (1999, hardcover, 324 pp.)
- Guf Nefesh V’Neshama, 5767 (2007, hardcover, 306 pp.)
- HaNefesh, 5767 (2007, hardcover, 424 pp.)
- HaTeva HaYehudi, 5765 (2005, hardcover, 250 pp.)
- Herkavta Enosh L’Rosheinu, 5744 (1984, hardcover, 78 pp.)
- K’Matmonim Techapsena, 5768 (2008, hardcover, 220 pp. ea. 2 vols.)
- Klal Gadol B’Torah, 5759 (1999, hardcover, 202 pp.)
- Kumi Ori, 5766 (2006, hardcover, 274 pp.)
- Lahafoch Et Hachoshech L’or, 5764 (2004, hardcover, 204 pp.)
- Lechiyot B’Merchav HaEloki, 5767 (2007, hardcover, 210 pp.)
- Lechiyot Im HaZman – Breishit, Shemot, 5770 (2010, hardcover,~300 pp. ea 2 vols.)
- Lev Ladaat, 5750 (1990, hardcover, 230 pp.)
- Maamarei HaRebbe MiLubavitch, 5769 (2009, hardcover, 174 pp.)
- Maayan Ganim – Parshat HaShavua, 5762 (2002, hardcover,~220 pp. ea. 4 vols.)
- Machol HaKramim, 5767 (2007, hardcover, 166 pp.)
- Malchut Yisrael, 5756 (2006, hardcover, 1244 pp. 3 vols.)
- Melech B’Yofyo, 5766 (2006, hardcover, 248 pp.)
- Mevo L’Kabbalat HaAriza”l, 5766 (2006, hardcover, 330 pp.)
- Mivchar Shiurei Hitbonnenut, 5768 (2008, hardcover, ~ 250 pp. ea. 9 vols.)
- Mudaut Tivit, 5759 (1999, hardcover, 192 pp.)
- Nefesh Briah, 5764 (2004, softcover, 140 pp.)
- Or Yisrael, 5766 (2006, hardcover, 768 pp.)
- Otiot Lashon HaKodesh, 5769 (2009, hardcover, 480 pp.)
- Otzar HaNefesh, 5770 (2010, softcover, 254 pp. ea. 2 vols.)
- Panim El Panim, 5760 (2000, hardcover, 312 pp.)
- Rucho Shel Mashiach, 5764 (2004, hardcover, 440 pp.)
- Sha’arei Ahava V’Ratzon, 5756 (1996, Hardcover, 278 pp.)
- Shechinah Beinehem, 5752 (1992, hardcover, 208 pp.)
- Shiurim B’Sefer Sod Hashem Lirei’av, 5771 (2010, hardcover, 420 pp.)
- Shlosha Ketarim, 5770 (2010, hardcover, 440 pp.)
- Sod Hashem Lirei’av, 5745 (1985, hardcover, 572 pp.)
- Teshuvat HaShana, 5757 (1997, hardcover, 316 pp.)
- Tikkun HaMedinah,5765 (2005, hardcover, 196 pp.)
- Tom V’Daat, 5764 (2004, hardcover, 418 pp.)
- Tzav HaSha’ah – Tipul Shoresh, 5761 (2001, softcover, 162 pp.)
- U’Mimena Yivashea, 5766 (2006, hardcover, 146 pp.)
- Yayin Mesameach, 5764 (2004, hardcover, 160 pp. ea. 5 vols.)
- Yayin Yitzchak, 5770 (2010, hardcover, 476 pp.)
- Satherley, Tessa (2013). "'The Simple Jew': The 'Price Tag' Phenomenon, Vigilantism, and Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh's Political Kabbalah" (PDF). Melilah: Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies. Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester, United Kingdom. 10: 57–91. ISBN 978-1-4632-0282-8. ISSN 1759-1953. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
- Biography appearing in his books.
- יואל יעקובי (7 May 2009). שר החיוך (in Hebrew). אתר חדשות ערוץ 7 - חדשות ותוכן יהודי. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- Matthew Wagner (11 November 2009). "Book advocating killing gentiles who endanger Jews is hard to come by". Jerusalem Post.
- "Sarah Yehudit Schneider – A Still Small Voice". Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Inbari, Motti (2009). Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who will build the Third Temple?. SUNY series in Israeli studies. Albany: SUNY Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-4384-2624-2.
- "Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount". Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Inbari p. 149.
- Inbari p. 150.
- "Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount". Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Inbari pp. 154-58
- Kabbalah and Meditation for the Nations ISBN 965-7146-12-7
- Levinson, Chaim (29 July 2010). "Police detain second Rabbi in connection to book condoning murder". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- Gideon Aran, Jewish Zionist Fundamentalism: The Bloc of the Faithful in Israel(Gush Emunin) in M. E. Marty, R.Scott Appleby (eds.)Fundamentalisms Observed, Chicago University Press, 1994, pp. 336-7, n. 27.
- Robert Pope ‘Acts of Holy Terror? Fundamentalisms Revisited’, in Robert Pope (ed.), Honouring the Past and Shaping the Future: Religious and Biblical Studies in Wales: Essays in Honour of Gareth Lloyd Jones, Gracewing, Leominster, 2003 pp.213-30, pp.224-5.
- Chief rabbi blasts remark about 'Jewish and non-Jewish blood'. Jerusalem Post. June 5, 1989. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
- Ilana Kass, Bard E. O'Neill, The deadly embrace: the impact of Israeli and Palestinian rejectionism on the peace process, University Press of America, 1997, p. 100.
- Cowell, Alan, "An Israeli Mayor Under Scrutiny", New York Times, 6 July 1989.
- The title means "Blessed is the man," (from Jeremiah 17:7). A version of the article later appeared as a chapter in a book, also called "Baruch Hagever" (1995), edited anonymously by Michael ben Horin (Ehud Sprinzak, Brother against Brother, p. 259).
- Motti Inbari, Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount: Who Will Build the Third Temple? (State University of New York Press, 2009), p. 132.
- Don Seeman, Violence, ethics, and divine honor in modern Jewish thought, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 73 (2005), 1015-1048.
- Kuntres Baruch Hagever. p. 11, footnote 3
- Kuntres Baruch Hagever, Introduction, p. 3.
- Probe of rabbi who called Hebron massacre a 'mitzva'. Jerusalem Post - September 5, 1994. Retrieved September 2, 2015
- Inbari, p. 134.
- Judge Proposes Rabbi Ginsburg Retract Inciteful Statements November 5, 2003. Haaretz. Retrieved September 2, 2015
- Ministry Funds Go to Outspoken Admirer of Baruch Goldstein. Haaretz - Feb 18, 2002. Retrieved September 2, 2015
- IDF Censures Officer for Distributing Incendiary Religious Pamphlets to Troops. January 28, 2009. Haaretz. Retrieved September 2, 2015.