In his work Megaleh Amukot Nathan Spira wanted to provide 1000 commentaries to the words of the Scripture, where Moses begs for permission to enter the Promised Land. “‘That is enough,’ the LORD said. ‘Do not speak to me anymore about this matter’” (Deut 3:26). Tradition has it that when Spira had 252 interpretations ready, he heard a voice from heavens saying: “That is enough!,” so he satisfied himself with that number of biblical commentaries and expanded his work no more.
Legend has it that one evening Moses Jakobowitz decided to pay a visit to his daughter Rose and son-in-law Nathan Spira (called Megaleh Amukot). Rose told him that he could not come inside, as her husband was hosting the Prophet Elijah. That only enraged her father. Her pleading and explanations were in vain. Moses Jakobowitz rushed into the room, where Nathan Spira was and… never returned – he dropped dead on the spot. Nathan Spira was sitting in the room talking to the Prophet Elijah, who honours only the most remarkable scholars with his visit, and the sight of him takes away the life of plain mortals.
Nathan Spira spent entire nights in his study, exploring kabalistic writings, and the candle in his window in the attic was for a Jewish town what a lighthouse is for a dark sea. One time that candle went out and so did the life of that holy man, on the 13th day of the month Av, year 5393 (1633). He was buried in the Remuh Cemetery, and the inscription on his tomb says: “Here lies a godly man, the most pious of the ancestors, uncovering secrets [Megaleh Amukot] and what is hidden deep, he, who is said to have talked with Elijah face to face, scholar, rabbi, rector Nathan Spira, son of Rabbi Solomon Spira, rest his soul.”
(based on Meir Balaban)
translated by Paulina Ohar-Zima
Rabin Natan Nata Spira a.k.a Megale Amukot
Rabbi Natan Nata Spira a.k.a. Megale Amukot, from the title of his work (1581, Kraków – 20 July 1633), kabbalist, one of the first Jewish mystics in Poland. Extraordinarily talented, studied not only Talmud but also philosophy and Kabbala. He married Rosa, daughter of Moses Jakubowicz, wealthy member of the Jewish community, which allowed him to devote his time fully to his studies. As of 1617, he headed the Kraków yeshiva. His sermons made enormous impression on the listeners, and he himself was surrounded by the aura of holiness. His works, e.g. Megale Amukot (Revealing Secrets, 1638), were published posthumously. Between this building and the Old Synagogue there used to stand, now no longer extant, Synagogue on the Hill, (“Afn bergl”), erected for Spira by his father-in-law. According to tradition, he used to study at the light of a candle, visible in the top window. He is a protagonist of many legends, and his grave at the Remu Cemetery is visited by people from all over the world.