Thursday 14 September 2017



Kupat Ha’ir is a Chareidi or Ultra-Orthodox charity which looks after twenty thousand impoverished Chareidim.

In my community, every few months a very fine, respected and mainstream magazine publishes a two-page advertisement which includes a ten-page pamphlet and an envelope – encouraging the readers to contribute to Kupat Ha’ir.

This is just a further example of how mainstream Judaism is leaning more and more to the right. The right knows this and takes advantage of it. And the mainstream is made to feel that they are inadequate and not as religious as the right and that the right holds the only keys to Judaism.

I will quote directly from the Kupat Ha’ir pamphlet in red – and add my commentary in black:

The Gedolei Hador will gather near the home of Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky to pray on behalf of contributors to Kupat Ha’ir...Your name must be there.

The title ‘Gedolei Hador’ (religious leaders of this generation) is misleading because it implies that these twenty rabbis have been divinely ordained as the spiritual leaders of this generation. This is not the case. They are the leaders of the Chareidi community and do not necessarily represent all religious Jews. 

Many of these Gedolim do not allow their followers to work or study anything secular that could make them employable. See here. Many of them do not allow women to drive. See here, here and here. Many of them encourage separate buses for men and women and in some instances, men and women must walk on different sides of the street. R. Kanievsky, for example, believes that non-Jews have a different number of teeth than Jews. See here.

Conscious of the impending judgement erev Rosh Hashana finds us feeling anxious, frightened and desperate for zechuyos (merits). We wonder what we can still do in the short time remaining.

So the stage is set to frighten us into urgent monetary submission during the few remaining days before the Holy Days.

Here is the advice of the Gedolei Hador, penned by Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky:
“The very greatest zechus (merit) one can attain with his money in anticipation of Yom Hadin (The Day of Judgement) is Tzedakah to Kupat Ha’ir.”

We all run to the Gedolei Hador.

Who is the ‘we all’?

Who better than they can offer us guidance on how to overcome this hurdle?

Remember, it is also with their guidance that many tens of thousands of Chareidim are living well below the poverty line, because their leaders do not allow them to work. Their guidance created a humanitarian crisis where they have to give new guidance which includes a bad temporary solution of giving charity which cannot fix the problem but only exasperate it because they accustom their people to expect it!

Who better than they will be able to take us by the hand and lead us safely through Yom Hadin? They...can best advise us at this critical time how to emerge from Yom Hadin unscathed.

So, if we give them money to distribute, they will take us safely through the Day of Judgement.
It’s that easy.

They can’t feed their followers on earth but they can take us through the Gates of Heaven provided we donate.

Maharan (Kanievsky) shlit’a writes to us, in his trademark brief style, addressing those in search of answers during this period.
There are those who ask which zechus (merit) will rescue them during the upcoming Yemei Hadin (Days of Judgement)...He responds with his characteristic precision leaving no doubt as to the unequivocal nature of his reply:

So, with ‘characteristic precision’ R. Kanievsky gives us the answer to the age old mystery of ‘who will live and who will die’ as is determined on these Holy days.

His words are like a laser beam that cuts straight to the heart of the matter, his illuminating message, to which Maran Harav Steinman and Maran Harav Karelitz sign their names as well, is this:
Tzedakah to Kupat Ha’ir. Tzedakah to Kupat Ha’ir.

The laser beam cut twice.

In Kupat Ha’ir Daas Torah rules on all matters...Twenty thousand people are helped daily by Kupat Ha’ir. Twenty thousand!!!

Had they allowed people to work the number would have been a lot let less and there would have been no need to repeat themselves again. See here for a discussion on Daas Torah.

Is it any wonder that Kupat Ha’ir is the best place for a yeshuah (salvation)?...Twenty thousand of Hashem’s beloved children who have no way to support themselves...twenty thousand! Kupat Ha’ir merits incredible siyatta dishmaya (intercession from Heaven) in all of its varied activities which are innumerable.

This means that by giving money to this specific organization one doesn’t just perform a mitzvah,  but one can achieve a deep mystical ‘salvation’ and be advantaged by ‘divine intercession’. These are things that even the mystics of old could only dream of. Now they can be purchased.

Kupat Ha’ir is the only organization about which the Gedolei Hador write so clearly and unequivocally...the most mehudar (glorious) tzedakah with which to rip asunder an unfavourable decree – is tzedakah to Kupat Haír.

Your donation to this organization will ‘rip asunder an unfavourable decree’ because it pulls the magic strings that gets G-d to bend to our demands.

Does Kupat Ha’ir need us? It is we who need Kupat Ha’ir to tip the scales in our favour...We need to grasp the rope being tossed to us and hold on tight; we need to wrap it around ourselves, our children and our loved ones. We need to protect ourselves with the protective vest that is Kupat Ha’ir. We need to do so, because our lives depend on it.

With such amazing powers no wonder they can be so arrogant because they are doing us this great favour. Nay, they are saving our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
Twenty of the Gedolei Hador will gather in (or near) the home of R. Kanievsky to pray for you if you give money.

But there is yet another great miracle to come:

Despite their venerated status and full commitments and learning – they are willing to stop everything in order to attend this magnificent tefillah (prayer) event. Think about it: just fixing a time that works for all of them seems an impossible task. How can arrangements be made to bring twenty of our nation’s greatest leaders under one roof? It seems unfeasible - But when there’s a fire, you don’t make calculations; you pause and set aside even the holiest things. Lives are hanging in the balance! They are dropping everything and coming...Instead of waiting for us to come beg them to pray for a refuah (now it’s a ‘healing’, not just a ‘salvation’), they’re going to pray in advance that everything goes well.

Did you get advance! And one would have thought that this great miracle of getting them to set aside their busy schedules would have lasted some time but the prayer meeting will only be for one hour. 

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will determine an entire year of daily decrees regarding your health, your parnassah (sustenance), the nachas you will see from your children, your success, your job (you can have a job to pay for the recipients who and discouraged from getting jobs!) your emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Ensuring that an entire year’s worth of daily gezeiros (decrees) is favourable is no easy feat. For that you need the Gedolei Hador.

If they can heal us spiritually and physically every day, why don’t they just use their same powers and arrange for the unemployable recipients to receive money as their very own ‘salvations’?

All the Gedolim will be coming to one place – and you hesitate before contributing? They understand that your life is important – and you make light if it? (Chutzpat Ha'ir?)...With one contribution you set in motion a tefillah (prayer) on your behalf that will soar heavenward “arm in arm” with your contribution.

This is guaranteed.

This tefillah will stand like a wall in the face of any unfavourable decree, barring it from reaching you.

This too is guaranteed.

Which accusing angels stand a chance against twenty Gedolei Hador?

To be honest I can’t think of any. 

Now for the piece de resistance:

If we could see what goes on in Shamayim (Heaven), we would watch reams of gezeiros (bad decrees) being ripped apart.

We’d see mountains of problems shrinking, children growing up healthy and happy and, diseases being cured...Chuppas (marriage canopies) being erected, healthy babies being born, hearts being cleansed of heaviness and dread and bank accounts filling up.

These are some of the reasons why I could never subscribe to this mentality. These are just more examples of how these Gedolim and the system they have created, make a mockery of intellectual Judaism.

Who doesn’t want to be a part of this event?

There is nothing remotely comparable anywhere in the world.

Actually, there is:

Sadly we have fallen to this disingenuous and superstitious level of Judaism that is actually typical of many other systems to be found around the world.

How different are the promises of Kupat Ha'ir from others I saw from Dr P. Musa and Hajati Lucky from Central Africa, which even included testimonials from happy paying clients:

For ‘reasonable charges’ they will help you deal with (amongst other issues):

Financial Problems. Marriage Problems. Customer Attraction. Court Cases. Lotto (lottery), casino and Horse Racing. Remove Witches. Protect Homes, Business from Thieves. A permanent Change will Prevail. Life will Just become Better.

I got what I wanted in just 3 days. I received a call from work begging me to go back to work. I was compensated and promoted as well. My wife gave birth and she came back to me...So if you find yourself reading this message, don’t call it a chance but fate to guide your steps!!
...I paid...for consultation...They performed a special prayer, cleansed me from bad luck and gave me powerful love use at my work place.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: With one contribution you set in motion a tefillah (prayer) on your behalf that will soar heavenward.]

You can be helped in just 3 Days. Bad Luck. Bewitched People. All known Body Diseases.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: Conscious of the impending judgement erev Rosh Hashana finds us feeling anxious, frightened and desperate for zechuyos (merits). We wonder what we can still do in the short time remaining.]

Cleansing of Bad Spells.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: the most mehudar (glorious) tzedakah with which to rip asunder an unfavourable decree – is tzedakah to Kupat Haír.]

Make your life better.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: We need to grasp the rope being tossed to us and hold on tight.]

Work Problems...Love life and relationships...That’s why we are happily married.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: regarding your health, your parnassah (sustenance), the nachas you will see from your children, your success, your job...]

They also made my enemies as well as my in-laws to come to me and confess all the things they had done to my family.

They performed a special prayer to bind me and my husband together. That’s why we are happily married.
You won’t regret or suffer again.

[Cf. Kupat Ha’ir: Ensuring that an entire year’s worth of daily gezeiros (decrees) is favourable...]

In my view, the sincere but gullible mainstream Jewish masses are drawn to the right because they see them as custodians of pure Judaism.

Not many are aware of the fact that today the Chareidi numbers have overtaken the mainstream Modern Orthodox, which makes the Chareidi movement the most powerful of all the Jewish religious movements today. It has and will be setting the tone for future religious Judaism. Additionally, there is the unquestioning reverence the minority old mainstream has toward the Chareidim who have now become the new mainstream.

Orthodox Judaism has always had a minority religious left, a very strong religious centrist and a minority religious right - which together sustained a  healthy balance of religious components. Today the left has almost broken away and the right has overtaken the centrists in terms of numbers. This leaves the centrists weak with very little effective leadership and coupled to that they are tending to the right. 

This dynamic of weak centrists, creates instability in terms of the relationship between Judaism and the world, and also in terms of securing first principle theological Judaism as was practised in the past. It also creates radical rather than measured theology.

Additionally many of the values within Chareidi society are actually innovations and adaptations and in essence, could also be seen as a ‘reforming’ of Judaism. See Reforms of the Ultra-Orthodox.

With regard to Tzedakah, let me be clear: I steadfastly believe in helping people who try support themselves and their families but may have fallen on hard times. That is something very different from a self-created poverty system in the first instance which, by encouraging people not to work, is obviously going to unsustainable on every level.

These Gedolim could work their greatest miracle by going back to classical Jewish first principles by allowing their followers to interact with the world like so many of our Tanaim, Amorain, Savoraim Geonim, Rishonim and many Acharonim did. Torah may be the most important thing for a Jew but it is not the only thing. 

These Gedolim created a monster and instead of managing it they are they are feeding it.

And the gullible masses remain in awe of them and continue buying the food. 

Sunday 10 September 2017



During the past few months, while working on the first English translation of the Cherson Letters, I noticed that there has been an usually high spike in readership from Russia. Surprisingly there is generally quite a strong component of Russian readers - and I am honoured by that – but there have literally been many thousands of Russian views on the Cherson letters in particular.

We know that, according to some accounts, these letters were hurriedly copied during the Russian Revolution of 1917 (in which grandfather participated), to save the contents from confiscation by the authorities.

If these letters are genuine and not the forgeries that many allege, then some of the original documents may still be in Russia.

If any of the Russian readers have ANY information that they are willing to share please email me privately at I undertake not to publish anything without permission.
A sample of the writing of the Rav of Rashkov, the scribe who copied the Sefer haTzoref for the Baal Shem Tov (see Document 32).

Most of us have read popular accounts of the Baal Shem Tov’s birth, his hiding from and then his revelation to the world.
One point that comes up, again and again, is that the Baal Shem Tov was preceded by many other Baal Shems (without the Tov). Among them was R. Eliyahu Baal Shem of Worms (1555-1636), who was followed by R. Yoel Baal Shem of Zamosc (d. around 1720) and then finally by R. Adam Baal Shem who was R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov’s teacher. Baal Shem was a generic term which applies to healers and ‘miracle workers’.

R. Israel, though, was the first to be called Baal Shem Tov.

However, surprisingly in our letters, it turns out to be exactly the opposite. R. Adam always signs his name as Adam Baal Shem Tov, whereas R. Yisrael refers to himself simply as Baal Shem!

The popular literature is at pains to explain how Tov was added only to R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov because he wasn’t just a ‘common kabbalist’ who knew how to ‘manipulate the names of G-d and the angels’ but he could change G-d’s mind for good and always avert evil decrees.

 Another reason was that he represented the ‘ki tov’ as referred in Genesis (G-d saw that the light was ‘good’). And he, therefore, represents another step closer to the ‘Light of Messiah’.

- Yet, according to the letters, amazingly, R. Adam signed as Baal Shem Tov, while R. Yisrael just signed as Baal Shem.


Another example is that popular history has it that the Baal Shem Tov joined the secret band of mystics, known as Machaneh Yisrael, when he was just 14 years old. This group was then headed by R. Adam Baal Shem (Tov).

-Yet, according to the letters, although he was his teacher and he transferred to him the ‘secret writings’, R. Adam had never met the Baal Shem Tov until he came out of hiding at the age of 36. There are, as we have seen, numerous references to the fact that R. Adam had never met R. Yisrael until then.


A further controversial and very uncomfortable example relates to the question of the scholarship of the Baal Shem Tov. I am not suggesting that he was not a great scholar, but there are letters were on the Baal Shem Tov’s own admission he ‘could not learn’. 

While he may have, as is usually explained, hidden his scholarship from all those around him until he turned 36 when he revealed himself to the world (this is actually borne out by one letter where he apologises to R. Gershon Kitover) - there are other (later) letters where he calls for assistance from the Maggid (or R. Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye) to debating with their opponents because they knew how to ‘argue according to the Talmud’[1]

There is also a letter where, after receiving the ‘secret teachings’ he admits openly that does not understand them and needs someone to explain them to him.


The early Chassidic movement is often portrayed as having undergone a process of organic growth, spreading like wildfire from the bottom up as it became more popular amongst the masses.  The letters, however, depict a different course – one where it spread from the top down. There are many examples of the Baal Shem attempting (very successfully) to attract leaders who were already popular and respected in their own right, with the expressed aim of growing the movement.

To broaden their reach, strategy, planning and what we today would call ‘marketing’, was crucial particularly during the early stages of the dissemination of the early Chassidic movement (much as it still is today in many cases). People were positioned in various places and the movement, particularly under the Maggid, was ruled and controlled with an iron fist and exacting eye. 

There was also an obsession with numbers and it appears as if the reason why the Maggid was appointed to take over the reins from the Baal Shem Tov (instead of R. Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye) was specifically that he would have a ‘double portion’ of followers[2].

These are just some observations thus far and more will emerge as we progress further.

(See here for why I believe these letters are not forgeries.)


(PART 12.)

If you have never read these letters before, see here and here for an important introduction and general contextualization.



  • In this series of letters, dated 1735 – 1740, we read how the Baal Shem Tov, who was prohibited from travelling to Israel by his teacher, R. Adam Baal Shem Tov, was going to try to change his teacher’s mind and join his brother-in-law on his journey to the Holy Land. (Doc. 312)
  • There is another letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov referring to the ‘secret writings’ which had to reach the Baal Shem Tov and no one else. (Doc. 18)
  • There is an interesting letter which could imply that the Baal Shem Tov did not just receive the ‘secret writings’ from R. Adam, but perhaps also from the rabbinical figure and Head of the Court, R. Chaim  Rappoport.   (Doc. 279)
  • And there is a letter from the Baal Shem Tov which, taken in a literal sense, paints him as being perhaps not as humble as we would have imagined. (Doc. 27)


Letter from the Baal Shem Tov to his brother-in-law, R Gershon Kitover, informing him that he was going to try to get permission from his teacher to rescind his ban[3] on travelling to the Holy Land:


Wednesday evening (Parshat) Vayikra. 5495 (1735). Telusk.

To my dear brother-in-law, the great and holy rabbi and gaon, a man of G-d etc. etc. etc., our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Gershon, n’y.

I see that even you, holy and honourable one have decided in your heart to go up to the Holy Land, may it be rebuilt and rehabilitated speedily in our days, Amen[4].

Even though I too have already decided in my heart (to also journey to the Holy Land) but my teacher and rabbi is still at one (and is adamant) that he will not permit me (to travel there).

Therefore, when on this forthcoming Shabbat, may it descend upon us for good, I merit, G-d willing, to see him (my teacher) and if I (manage to change his mind) and get permission to go up (to the Holy Land), I shall immediately inform you, honourable and holy one, and we shall go up together to the House of G-d. Amen, so may it be His will.

From your brother-in-law who loves you with my heart and soul.

All the members of my household, n’y, send regards,

Yisrael Baal Shem from here (in) the above mentioned holy community.

(P.s.:) The members of my household send regards.



Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to his son, R. Leib, telling him that the ‘writings’ he had given him[5] must be given to the Baal Shem Tov, although he does not know where he is hiding:


Wednesday (Parshat) Emor 5495 (1735).

To my dear and important son, our teacher the rabbi, Leib, may you live.

Know that all the ‘writings’ which I have handed over to you are destined for the G-dly rabbi, Mr Yisrael who is known as Baal Shem Tov.

And I do not know where he is.

But this I do know; that he is very holy and awesome. And that his words are heard Above.
Search and seek after him and hand (the ‘writings’) over to him.

For I am ‘Adam’ (a man) but he is an ‘Ish’ (a person)[6].

(So) transfer to his holy hand (all the ‘writings’) because he will (bring a) fragrance to the world.

From your father who writes and signs (this letter) and who loves you,

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.



Letter from R. Mordechai of Dalishchick to the Baal Shem Tov telling him he met his teacher and that he was informed that a ‘wonder’ was predicted to take place in the year 5507:


Wednesday (Parshat) Korach, Brody. 5495.

To my honourable colleague, a man of G-d, the pious man who is the foundation of the world, Mr Yisroelik of Telusk.

I saw your teacher[7] and in the year 5507, G-d willing, we (you) will see wonders.

This is what I received from your teacher.

From the one who loves you with heart and soul,

Mordechai of Dalishchick[8].      



Letter of a Kabbalistic nature[9] from the Baal Shem Tov to his brother-in-law R. Gershon Kitover:


Erev Shavuot 5496 (1736) Brody.

To my brother-in-law the holy rabbi and gaon, the holy illuminator, famous (for scholarship in) revealed and hidden (Torah), a man of life and many wonders etc. etc. etc., our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi A(vraham) Gershon, n’y.

In short, if you, honourable and holy one, will listen to me, you will make your pidyon[10] like this:   
From rasha (evil) (to) osher (wealth)[11].

And from chalash (weak) (to) lachash (quiet).

Together they make shema chatzat[12]. Enough said.

And may G-d, blessed be He, ....(unreadable text) appreciate you for your knowledge.

From your brother-in-law who inquires after your well being,

Israel, son of our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, of Tesusk.



Letter from the Baal Shem Tov to R. Chaim Rapoport[13], informing him that he will be returning the ‘ writings’ he had received from him:


Tuesday (Parshat) Noach 5500 (1740) Peret Katan[14]. Kerasna.

To my faithful and beloved, the holy and famous rabbi and gaon, the lion of upliftment, the awesome righteous one, and the esteemed luminary etc. etc., our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Chaim haKohen, n’ y,  of the Rapoport family.

I received all the writings today.

And in a month’s time, I shall send them back to your holy hand as we agreed.

From your beloved who is concerned about your well-being, like a brother from the womb,

Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Baal Shem of Telusk.



Letter from the Baal Shem Tov to R. Yitzchak of Drohbitch requesting he comes to visit him as so many other esteemed rabbis have done for the past six years since he came out of hiding:

With G-d’s help, Erev Rosh haShana, 5500 (1740) laPeret Katan[15], here in the holy community of Akop.

May the mountains carry greetings to the great man, who is exceedingly elevated and awesome etc., our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak, n’y, truth speaker from the holy community of Drohbitch.

Indeed I was informed by Heaven to reveal myself and to sanctify through me the name of Heaven, may (G-d’s name be) blessed and elevated.

It has now been about six years[16] (since my revelation) and, thank G-d, holy gaonim have flocked to me to hear my teachings and to ascend the mountain of G-d in along a quick path, which is clean and easy in quantity, yet on the contrary in quality is difficult.

The main thing is only the innermost (aspects) of the heart. Enough said.

(So) why do you, honourable and holy one, hold back from coming (to me).

It is true that these (High Holy) days are a time (for a rabbi) to preach – but on the festival of Sukkot, may it descend upon us for good, come, honourable and holy one to bask in the shadow (splendour) of faith.

From the one who loves you even without (ever) meeting you, who loves you in truth with a heart and soul that yearns for you forever,

Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Baal Shem of Telusk.   

[1] See unnumbered Document p. 124 haTamim: Wednesday (Parshat) Korach. Sudilkov.
[2] See unnumbered Document p. 124 haTamim: Thursday (Parshat) Korach. Medzebuzh.
[3] See Document 31. It is unclear whether the teacher referred to in this letter (Doc. 312) is R.Adam or Achiyah haShiloni. In Document 31 we clearly see that R. Adam banned his student from going to Eretz Yisrael, but the inference in this letter (Doc 312) seems to point to Achiya haShiloni who the Baal Shem hoped to merit to see on Friday night.
[4][4] Tvbb”a is an abbreviation for tibaneh vetikonen bimheira beyamenu Amen.
[5][5] This is interesting because this letter is dated 1735, yet two years earlier (Doc. 48 and 51 dated 1733)we see R. Adam handing over the ‘writings’ to his son to give to the Baal Shem Tov and more importantly, we see R. Adam confirming that the Baal Shem Tov had received them.
[6][6] This is intended (as we have seen in so many of R. Adam’s letters) as a great compliment and praise from the teacher to the student.
[7] This could either have been R. Adam or Achiya haShiloni.
[8] He was also known as Mordechai the Tzadik and was an early contemporary of the Baal Shem Tov. According to Hayom Yom (5th Iyyar): ‘Alter Rebbe.
R. Mordechai, born in the village of Bayev in Mohilev, studied under the Baal Shem Tov for two years and stands out as being the first person to introduce the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov to the counties of Mohilev, Minsk, and Vitebsk.
In Doc. 24, the Baal Shem Tov refers to R. Mordechai as ‘my colleague’, and also promises to keep his identity a secret.
We also know from Document 276 that R. Mordechai was, at some stage, also hiding together with the Baal Shem Tov.
[9] See Document 106 for a similar Kabbalistic letter.
[10] Redemption note.
[11] Both Hebrew words have the same letters except in different order.
[12] I do not understand this as the mem, tzadi, and tav are not found in the referenced words.
[13] Also known as R. Chaim haKohen Rapoport of Lvov (d. 13 Tamuz 1771). He was from a long line of accomplished rabbis who had their roots in Italy and Central Europe as early as the 1400’s. R. Chaim Rapoport was involved in the dispute concerning Bishop Mikolski (or Sikolski) who wanted to tear out the Aleinu prayer from all Jewish prayer books. (See Document 342.)
The following is pure speculation; In the letters, we do see examples of books being borrowed (Doc. 2). They are referred to as ‘sefarim’ (books). The ‘secret writings’, however, are referred to as ‘ketavim’ (writings). Could it be that the Baal Shem Tov did not just receive the ‘secret writings’ from R. Adam but also from the known and respected rabbinic figure R. Chaim Rapoport? If the theory that the ‘secret writings’ may have included the Sefer haTzoref, which was copied by the Baal Shem Tov’s scribe, the Rav of Rashkov – could it be that perhaps it was originally in the possession of R. Rapoport and during this one month period, it was copied and then returned? See Doc. 31. See KOTZK BLOG 129.
[14] A calendar designation.
[15] A calendar designation.
[16] This letter is dated 5500 (1740). Six years earlier would have corresponded to 5494 (1734). The Baal Shem Tov would have been 34 years old at the time of his revelation – or according to some accounts, he would have been born in 1698 (not 1700) and would, therefore, have been 36 years old.