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The pulsa denura (a curse wishing the death of someone) ceremony long ago ceased to be a religious event and became a media event. In that respect, it underwent a very similar process to the procedure of filing a complaint with the Attorney General's Office. The complainants do not appeal to the attorney general as much as they are appealing to the media. The cursers are not appealing to God as much as they are appealing to reporters. It's unlikely they would go to the trouble if it did not get them a day and a half of headlines.

It should be recalled that the Haredi newspaper "Mishpacha" (Family) published three months ago the results of a study that found that there was no kabbalistic basis for the pulsa denura ceremony. It is a ceremony that was invented in the early years of Israel's statehood by one of the then-leaders of the Haredi public, who made an especially dramatic adaptation of the good old excommunication ceremony. Excommunication isn't such a scary matter, but pulsa denura sounds at least as mysterious as a voodoo rite. And all the rest is folklore.

The two authors of the Mishpacha article, Dr. Dov Schwartz of Bar-Ilan University and the Haredi public figure Moshe Blau, spoke with three noted kabbalists, and received the answers: "I'm not familiar with it," "I've never heard of such a thing," and "There's no such curse in the Torah."

The researchers conclude: "Pulsa denura is not a kabbalistic ceremony, kabbalists do not participate in it, it is not conducted at midnight, but rather at noon, not after a three-day fast, and not to the light of black candles."

The researchers say that those who claim they conducted a pulsa denura for Rabin are embellishing, because they don't understand what it's all about." Blau says that it is the same situation for the ceremony held for Sharon. The researchers don't miss the opportunity to poke fun at secular Jews, who "in spite of not believing in the Creator of the world and His Torah, believe oh so much in pulsa denura."

Why do people for whom a pulsa denura is held die? A. Because it happens to everyone, at times long after the curse was invoked. B. Because the ceremony is usually held for very old people. C. Because these people are very often being harassed, as well. D. At least in the case of Rabin, there was someone who did not rely on the curse and decided to verify the kill. (S.I.)