5 Signs On How To Spot An Authentic Mekubal To Help You – A Guide On How Not To Be Scammed

This is really short guide on how not to be scammed by a charlatan pretending to be a Mekubal

I am reposting this article because I think it’s probably one of the most important I’ve written.

Throughout the centuries, people have gone to great tzaddikim for blessings and salvations of all sorts.

Real (and often strange) things happen when you find the right person and receive a blessing or piece of advice and act on it. And, for many people, part of being in Israel is the possibility of finding a Kabbalist (or Mekubal) to help you solve difficult problems.

I will use the 2 terms Tzaddikim and Kabbalist/Mekubalim interchangeable because… they kind of are. Sure, many of the Ashkenazi tzaddikim are not particularly noted for writing Kameot or using divine names, but they nevertheless could just as aptly be called Kabbalist. However, a mekubal (a real one) is necessarily a Tzaddik).

The problem is: How to spot a REAL Kabbalist? And even if you do find one, how do you proceed from them on until you get a solution?

Of course, in history, there have been many charlatans selling all sorts of salvations as a Mekubal. They have made a lot of money by writing (or printing) amulets, promising salvations, blessings, pidyon nefesh and whatnot.

This humble author has been blessed to be in contact with some Tzaddikim, Mekubalim, and people who know them. In the interest of providing some honest answers to these questions, I present here this little guide in the hopes of helping you.

Introduction: What is a Mekubal?

A Kabbalist (or in Hebrew, Mekubal), much like a Tzaddik is one of the servants of the highest caliber of Hashem. You could call him a watcher on the watchtower because he sees farther than most people and is responsible for keeping the walls from being breached.

The Shulchan Aruch, the Mishnah Berurah, the Mishneh Torah (for Teimanim) and every other work on Jewish Laws give the basic halacha in order for you to be considered a good Jew.

The simple law is already difficult enough, and those that follow them are loved by Hashem, and are blessed in this world and the next. Many good rabbis have Semicha and help Jews and non-Jews worldwide, and that’s also great.

However, some select individuals, in their love of Hashem, desire to go further.

Besides studying a lot of Kabbalah (the hidden aspect of the Torah), they seek to perfect themselves to the highest degree and be in a constant state of dvekut (communion) with the Creator. Therefore, they minimise sleep and food intake, and maintain more secluded lives. This is also in order for them to maximise Torah study. Moreover, these individuals are more stringent in the performance of the Mitzvot and go a few extra miles to do them the best way possible. They care little about money and more often than not live very modestly.

I’m overly simplifying their level of Avodat Hashem here, but you get the idea.

This divestment of the physical world has a profound effect on the mind. After some time, these people can acquire a high level of Ruach HaKodesh (divine spirit) and receive information from Heaven, either through a dream or while awake. In their quest of holiness and purity, some can even acquire the power to see into the future and bestow powerful blessings on people.

Throughout history, there have been those who could even read thoughts or see everything despite being blind (what the Talmud calls Sagi Nahor). We have no shortage of them.

These people, who have also mastered many areas of Torah, both the revealed and the hidden, came to be known as Mekubalim, or Kabbalists. They pray and study for long hours in order to increase the merits of the Jewish people and save them from trouble. But they don’t attribute their powers to themselves, only to Hashem. Moreover, they are humble, gentle and wise. And in their love for every single Jew (religious or not), they have often received people in their homes/offices in order to help solve their woes.

This is a real Mekubal in a nutshell.

Watch out for fakes!

Alas, all sorts of crooks have sprouted throughout the generations.

They come up with the most ingenious stories and scripts to scam people. And, as it turns out, some pretend to be famous Kabbalists and “give salvations” in exchange for money.

While some of these crooks are very good (and creative), there are blatant signs that give them away.

Whenever you are approached by someone claiming to have special powers (or you go to them), make sure to notice the following signs of deception. A real Mekubal is holy and will never, EVER contradict the Torah. And that includes Tanach, the Talmud, the Midrashim, the Zohar, Mussar works and Kabbalah works.

probably not the Mekubal you are looking for
Probably not the Mekubal you are looking for

How to find a real Mekubal

No matter how good a charlatans is, he will never be the real deal.

If you watch them carefully, you will spot the problems and avoid being tricked. This might not be so easy and the list below is not exhaustive, but here are some of the most important signs to watch for in fakers:

1. The Mekubal is not looking for you

Don’t be disheartened, but you are not some sort of “chosen” to be found.

And no, the real Kabbalist doesn’t have some urgent business to deal with you in order to save humanity, but I admit it would be fun if he did.

Therefore, if someone comes to you saying “I see you have a great destiny to be fulfilled! Come with me!”, don’t come, that’s a scam.

A real Kabbalist is happy to help, but won’t go out of his way to solve your issues, except in extremely rare circumstances, usually that have to do with the greater community. If they really have business with you and appear legit (and mentally stable), keep looking for other issues below.

2. A real Kabbalist doesn’t sell salvations

Even famous Kabbalists sometimes have a trade of their own. HaRav Chaim Jacobi ZT”L used to be a shoemaker and HaRav Kaduri ZT”L used to be a bookbinder.

Some of them, however, focus entirely on Torah. These latter ones know for a fact that if you are not going to be generous enough to give him money as tzedakah, Hashem will send someone else to fulfill that role. That’s basic Emunah straight from the divine source, without any intermediaries.

Though it’s proper to give “a token of your appreciation”, he doesn’t need to beg or be a tricky salesman to get money.

Because money comes from Heaven, and he knows that deeply.

Also, they only sell Kameot (amulets) in extreme situations. Keep in mind though, that these articles demand intense work and preparation, like fasting. That’s why they charge money in this case.

As a side note: true Kameot can only be handwritten on a kosher parchment, never printed.

dreamstime s 80926666

3. The Internet is not his place

Yes, I realize many people that claim to be Kabbalists are on the internet.

For those wondering, I myself don’t claim to be a Kabbalist, but that should be obvious to most of my readers. As a matter of fact, real Kabbalistic knowledge precludes one from claiming he “knows Kabbalah”, because the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

But if you read the article until now, you probably realize the dangers of surfing around. It’s like walking in a minefield, with all the immodest pictures around. To the real Kabbalist, there’s no purpose in being on the Internet “to be found” because that goes against everything he stands for.

4. He’s hidden from all eyes

Chances are you won’t recognize a Mekubal in the shuk (market), even if you see one. That’s because they dress modestly and don’t attract attention. Moreover, it’s highly unlikely you will even see one with an entourage of followers.

HaRav Chaim Shmuel Dweick HaKohen ZT”L, one of the great compilators of the Siddur of the Rashash HaKadosh ZT”L used to do grocery shopping on his own, despite his level, and few people knew who he really was.

He won’t be wearing a big white robe, olive branches crown, and a golden necklace with a big letter Tzadi. But again it would look pretty funny.

5. They “don’t know anything”

This is tricky, but if one would ask a real Mekubal “do you know Kabbalah?”, the answer will most likely be “not at all. And he’s telling you the truth because no matter how much one studies Kabbalah, his knowledge will always be sorely lacking.

Sure, he knows a lot more than the most advanced students, but Kabbalah is basically a knowledge of Hashem’s hashgacha and workings, which is limitless. It’s infinite and complex.

So who can claim to know it? In the end, no matter how much one knows about Hashem, he still remains unknowable. So a real Mekubal will deny it.

Therefore if someone claims to be an expert Kabbalist, even if they did write many books, be wary. They are obviously trying to gain fame using this holy knowledge, and that’s obviously not its goal. This is what Natan of Gaza, assistant of Shabtai Tzvi (the fake Mashiach) did. He wrote a book on Mussar and Kabbalah that looked legit and sold it to the masses so he could drag them to his cult.

Usually the “not knowing anything” answer is also meant to keep unwanted people away. The kabbalist doesn’t want recognition because that lowers his level of avodat Hashem. Also, those that are meant to find him and receive a blessing or advice will do so no matter what he says.

A side tip is to see how the supposed Mekubal behaves while in public and in private. Generally, only those who are legit follow the ethical principles of Mussar (self-discipline) to the minutest detail.

I found a real deal, now what?

Ah, you are a lucky one, my friend!

Perhaps you know a guy who knows a guy? Does your sister’s friend’s cousin knows a friend of the uncle of the gabbai from the Mekubal’s shtibel?

Then we need to plan your approach.

In some cases, it’s possible to approach him in the synagogue, after Shacharit, or on Motzaei Shabbat after Kiddush Levanah, when everyone is outside. This is a great opportunity to ask for blessings and for quicker questions.

It’s also possible that the Kabbalist doesn’t give blessings while outside and ask you to come to his office/home during set hours that are open to the public.

Keep in mind that most Kabbalists don’t receive or talk directly to women. This is due to the extreme important injunction of guarding one’s eyes (which is taken very seriously by them).

Think of him as reserving his eyes solely for his wife. That’s one of the highest expressions of love. So if you are a woman, you might have to speak behind a mechitza (partition) or have a husband/brother/male friend go in your stead. It’s nothing personal, just part of acquiring holiness.

Also, if that triggers something in you, the real Mekubal doesn’t care.

Anyway, here’s what to do to prepare yourself for the meeting:

1. Prepare short, open questions in a piece of paper (in Hebrew)

It’s likely you will have less than 3 minutes to explain your situation and ask your question, so be sure to make every second count. Prepare your speech to be as concise and direct as possible and ask the questions in the simplest way: “should I do A or B?”, “what do you think about this?”, “Can you bless me with a child/cure/parnassa/shidduch?”.

Maybe the Kabbalist will ask you for your piece of paper, in which case, you give it to him to pray with your name and name of your mother and/or father.

Be open and prepared.

2. Do Teshuvah

This cannot be stressed this enough.

Some tzaddikim can sense a person’s level of divine service, kedusha and taharah, so do yourself a favor and abandon your sins as much as possible. Also, think about how you can get closer to Hashem, not how you can buy your third yacht.

There was an episode in which the Steipler Gaon ZT”L shoed some adulterers from his office, without asking about their sins. He, like many others, had Ruach HaKodesh and had divine wisdom for such things.

The last thing you want is the same to happen to you after all this trouble.

3. On the day of the meeting, immerse in the mikveh and read tehilim (it’s always good practice)

Going to a Kabbalist is not like going to your regular job interview.

You are meeting a holy person therefore, if you are a man, it’s proper to dip in the mikveh before going. Despite what some rabbis might say, there are no substitutes to going to the mikveh, even if you are a full Ben Torah. That’s a basic fact.

Besides purifying you to a great extent and opening your soul to receive the blessings of the tzaddik, the mikveh expands your consciousness and makes you receptive.

It also purifies a man from many… shall we say, unpleasant entities that you have been carrying so far due to their sins.

4. Be humble and resolve to accept the Kabbalist’s words

In 2017, my friend and I went to HaRav Nissim Moyal ZT”L. Before leaving to the meeting in Kyriat Gat, he told me “resolve in your mind to follow his directives”. He then explained to me some Kabbalists can sense if someone is trying to “get approval” or influence the answer in some way.

The answer, in this case, will likely be along the lines of “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you”. This is like shooting one’s own foot. If you come for advice, receive the advice in its full form, no matter how different from your worldview.

Also, don’t test the Kabbalist or try anything funny, just be open and accepting.

Keep in mind however, not to take it all at face value. There’s no contradiction to what was just said: sometimes the Kabbalist is not really telling you something you should do (like drop your job and study 16 hours per day), but rather, blessing that you should come to this level.

Try to do some Hitbodedut and ask Hashem what the real meaning of the Mekubal’s words were. Sometimes a little interpretation goes a long way.

5. Don’t take his words lightly

If the Mekubal tells you he can help you on a certain condition, don’t try to cheat it. Either do as he says, keep it in your heart, or refuse the offer altogether.

There’s a story about a woman who was childless for a long time. Once, she came to HaRav Mordechai Sharabi ZT”L and asked him for a blessing to have a child. He complied on the condition that she never again wears a wig, but a mitpacha. About a year after the blessing, she got a daughter and was incredibly joyous. Unfortunately, due to the pressures of the community, she ended up wearing a wig again and, shortly after, her daughter died in an accident.

The Kabbalists words are often very precise and have the power to effect decrees.

He means what he says and says what he means.

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6. Don’t take his words at face value

As mentioned before, you shouldn’t jump to do everything he says, the way he says it, because there are many lawyers of understanding the speech of Tzaddikim, unless it’s something incredibly clear (like the advice by Rabbi Sharabi above).

These people are attuned to the light of Chokhmah so, like prophets, their message can sound like gibberish. That’s because in that highly expansive state of the mind, 2 opposing concepts can merge and there may not be any contradiction. He might speak in apparent riddles, sometimes using hyperboles and at other times, in a completely obscure matter.

This happened in a few occasions where I was blessed to ask for advice from Rav Eliezer Berland.

It’s also possible that you will only understand what he said later down the road when something related happens. So be patient if you can.

Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s very difficult to get a suggestion like “go to China and you will do the business of your life and become rich”. However I heard it from a friend that his friend got advice from Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira to travel. This friend of his took his sweet time to prepare, then when he came back, Rabbi Elazar said “Never mind, it’s too late now”.

This type of advice exists, but it’s the exception, not the norm.

7. Take money with you to give, as a token of gratitude

Hashem despises those that don’t appreciate the good done to them. Consider the financial, emotional and mental cost of the following solutions:

  • IVF treatment to be able to conceive
  • Ending your suffering in shidduch for years
  • Curing a deadly or debilitating disease/condition
  • Ending your parnassa problems (and all that follows, like shalom bayt issues)

Here you are, asking for a gift to a complete stranger. The Mekubal gives you at no cost, and that saves you from a lot of headaches. It’s proper to be generous and not just leave him with a simple “thanks a lot”.

Again, it’s not that he demands it, but it’s just basic good manners.

Even if he doesn’t solve your problem, it’s still an incredibly powerful segulah to give tzeddaka to a tzaddik because you are connecting yourself to them. Being in the presence of a holy individual even without exchanging words already has a great effect on our souls.

Keep in mind that the Mekubal doesn’t owe you anything and reserves the right to dismiss you for whatever reasons.

Concluding remarks

The world is full of strange things happening. Many feats, like what the Baba Sali, Rav Kaduri, the Ben Ish Chai and so on did, cannot be faked. They are real. Nowadays, the Mekubalim are more hidden, it’s difficult to really spot one.

The charlatans might be able to pay actors or share their revenue with them, to trick whole crowds into giving them money. But they won’t be able to get irreligious doctors from Hadassa Hospital to testify a soldier diagnosed with massive sclerosis, ready to get his leg amputated, just got healed. You know, like the Baba Sali did.

Remember: If you get a meeting with a Kabbalist, be sure to arrive as early as possible. My friend from this essay who met regularly with Baba Elazar ZT”L told me he once had to wait in line for 2 hours. Some days have long lines and some days you will go in right away, but better not to risk and go early. Take a book to pray or study while in the waiting room.

Even if you are rejected the first time, don’t give up. Get your house in order, do your Teshuva and come back again!

The effort you put in will pay in this world and the next. Sometimes the solution is not as readily apparent as we wish. Sometimes it’s another problem that gets solved and not the one we asked the solution for.

I hope this guide will give you a better perspective of what Kabbalists are all about.

Who knows?

Maybe you will find the solutions to your problems or maybe you won’t. But one thing is for sure: just being in the presence of such elevated people can bring a lot of blessings in life.

Remember to also tidy your house (do teshuva) and hatzlacha rabba.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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2 Responses

    1. I have met a few, though none of them told me the past and the future (see below why this is not so relevant).

      This is a long discussion which I may turn into another post but I will try to put forth some points.

      Firstly, we can never really say with absolute certainty one IS a real Mekubal, only one who is NOT. The reason is that ultimately there can never be 100% assurance of anything in this world. Consider that many people had all the reasons listed here to think Shabtai Tzvi was a real Tzadik. And he was, as R’ Yehuda Ptaya writes, until he fell.

      However, we can have enough evidence that points to the fact that he is the real deal. Evidence that, stacking up makes it statistically impossible to fake.

      A real Mekubal, besides fulfilling all the points in this article is extremely humble, avoids s’rara (authority), hates money, loves every Jew equally (and also non-Jews), helps both of them without reservations, has an overarching knowledge of the entire Torah (thought not necessarily knows it entirely by heart), eats little, sleeps little, and a few other things.

      I genuinely believe it’s impossible to fake this entire list of attributes and if you find them in someone, like Rav Berland, Rav Kook from Tveria, Rav Pinto, Rav Ades, and so on, you can be sure you are dealing with a real Mekubal.

      Though, of course, he will never call himself that and will deny any such achievements.

      The whole “seeing the future/past” is a bonus, not a sine qua non. Seeing the future is very difficult to attain, as things can change a lot until the foreseen event happens. Seeing the past seems easier by comparison though, as the Steipler could easily tell when a Jew observed Shabbat or not, or committed other averot. Rav Chaim Kanievsky himself said this was a relatively easy skill to gain (again, compared to others).

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