Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pulsa de-Nura in the cinema

THE PULSA DE-NURA RITE FEATURES IN A NEW FILM: ‘RABIN, THE LAST DAY’ MAKES OLIVER STONE’S ‘JFK’ LOOK STONE-COLD SOBER. Amos Gitai’s polemical new documentary—opening in U.S. theaters Friday—on the 1995 assassination that rocked Israel sacrifices facts in favor of sensation (J. Hoberman, Tablet Magazine).
... To compound the disorientation, Gitai introduces a flashback dramatization of the reading of the Pulsa Dinura (“lashes of fire” in Aramaic), a Haredi rabbinical curse amounting to a ritual fatwa, directed against Rabin.

The organizer of this ritual, apparently modeled on the Russian-born extreme rightwing nationalist Avigdor Eskin, explains that the death curse had only been employed once before, against Leon Trotsky (although it has also been applied, if not by Eskin, against archeologists, politicians, and gay activists). There is a further suggestion that the halakhic precept of din rodef (approximately, the right of self-defense) was also used as a justification for assassinating Rabin.
Hoberman is not impressed by the presentation:
... I trust Gitai’s use of the Shamgar Commission transcripts, which he evidently got released specifically for this movie, although I wish they had been more precisely presented, and I’d like to know Gitai’s source for the secret meetings between the “hallucinating rabbis with all sorts of bizarre spells,” as he’s called them, and the various nationalist fanatics. These dramatized scenes are a fantastic spectacle of orthodoxy run amok, but in the absence of footnotes and the presence of some ultra-crazed performances, we might be watching a protocol discussion by the Elders of Zion.
I haven't seen the movie and make no judgment about it. My interest is in tracking how the rite has been used and interpreted. More on the pulsa de-nura ritual is here and links. And a few posts dealing with the use of the rite against politicians are here, here and here.