A kabbalistic royal eulogy in the House of Lords
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A kabbalistic royal eulogy in the House of Lords

British lawmaker David Wolfson eulogizes Queen Elizabeth in the House of Lords.
British lawmaker David Wolfson eulogizes Queen Elizabeth in the House of Lords.

Queen Elizabeth has been eulogized by countless politicians and other leading figures across the globe. But in his tribute to the late monarch in the House of Lords, Baron David Wolfson used a new method of talking about the significance of her death: explaining a pillar of Jewish mysticism.

In a six-minute speech last Friday, Wolfson, a Conservative Party member who served as a justice minister under Boris Johnson, walked his peers through several aspects of Jewish tradition — including gematria, the Jewish practice of finding meaning through the numerical value of words.

First he discussed the term “mitzvah,” or good deed, explaining that it is not simply a good deed someone does at will — it is a duty whose roots are the Hebrew letters tzaddi and vav, or “tzav.”

“Her late majesty spent her whole life doing the right thing, and not just because she felt like it, or because the mood took her,” he said. “She spent her 96 years doing the right thing day in and day out, out of a sense of duty.”

Wolfson then slid into the magical realm of gematria, which was developed by Kabbalah practitioners, noting that the sum of the Hebrew letters that make up the word mitzvah add up to 96.

“In one of those coincidences, which perhaps are not, the value, the numerical value of the Hebrew word tzav, the root of the word mitzvah is 96 — 96 years of tzav, of duty, and also of mitzvah of doing the right thing, because that is your duty,” Wolfson said.

Wolfson also noted that in synagogues throughout the world, the reading of the Torah will soon be complete, and that tradition dictates that it start again right away. That offers a parallel to the British tradition of mourning the passing of one monarch and joyously welcoming another, in this case, King Charles III.

“We’ve closed one book, a long and good book which we’ve had with us for so many years, and we are about to open another,” said Wolfson, a lawyer who studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem in his youth. “And as we all pray that God save our King, I will also pray that he too may enjoy a reign of mitzvah of doing the right thing, for that now is his duty.”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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