Jul 17, 2017
Did Her Curse Change My Life?

Kabbalah Coach Shimona Tzukernik opens up and reflects about a horrifying experience that has long impacted her life.

By Shimona Tzukernik, The Kabbalah Coach

My husband Avraham is always astonished at the fact that I dare actually express what I'm thinking – let alone think it at all. The cold, embarrassing truth is that I do think things like, "What the heck! Look at her cushy life. And mine is so hard! How does this even make sense?!" Or, "Oh yeah! My fiftieth birthday and you couldn't acknowledge the invitation till after the party ‘cos you never intended on showing?! Inner circle friend? Not anymore! Don't expect me to be part of your life!" As if the loss is all hers and not mine.

Not pretty, the inside of my mind.

The truth, thank G-d, is that, despite Avremel's dismay at my expression of such ignoble feelings as resentment, jealousy and anger, he knows me better. He knows I don't really wish the landlord harm G-d forbid.

I catch myself. I catch myself not only because of the Talmudic teaching "Better to be amongst those who are cursed than those who curse." And not only because I want a good life for myself and loved ones. Or because I am embarrassed lest others become privy to my ego and inner menagerie. I may not be scheduling coffee at Starbucks with the gal I've got a grievance with but I catch myself because I know another person's suffering does nothing to heal our world. More deeply, I do it because I'm realizing I don't know why life goes down the way it does and that there really is a bigger picture and that G-d does have a handle on the whole deal. And deeper still, I catch myself because G-d doesn't want me to wish bad on others. Even when a part of me is selfishly, shamefully seething.

I could tell you I don't curse others because I was cursed – but that wouldn't be true. I mean, it is true that I was cursed. It's just not why I myself work on not invoking harm through my words.

The Bar of Soap

Years ago when I wrote up the story of how I met my husband, I left out the curse. I'm not sure why I can tell this part of the story now. Maybe it's that twenty-six years have created enough distance. Maybe it is that I'm old enough to be able to admit, "I loved another man" without feeling I am betraying my marriage. There is something seemingly sacrilegious in admitting that fact even twenty six years of hours and days later. Life is subtle. I hold many parts and differing truths within my heart at any given moment.

Ten days before our wedding left little time to adjust to my new reality. Though would a year's notice have made it easier? It was a very difficult loss. He was an extraordinary person.

I still have a bar of soap Yehoshua used. I found it sorting through his belongings alone in an apartment that belonged to a friend who'd gone upstate with her husband for the summer. There was also a cardigan, the faint smell of his body still in its armpits. Alone in the dark I held the sweater and soap to my face. I wrapped the arms of the cardigan around the back of my neck and breathed. I imagined the touch I'd never felt and spoke with him and wept.

The Fire

During my engagement, there was a fire at the dorm where I lived.

"After a fire comes wealth," I was told. And so, with my trousseau in ashes, I optimistically went out and bought a lottery ticket.

"How will they notify me if I win?" I thought as I left the corner café.

As with his passing, her words came as a shock that flowed through my body. I was sitting on the bed playing my messages from one of those big black machines we used before cell phones. Looking back I was naïve to the point of foolish as I skimmed through them. It had just never occurred to me that someone would hate me as much as she seemed to. Amidst the "hello's" and "love ya" or "caallll me!" messages – was hers.

"SheMOWnuah!" she hissed, "You lying…Wait till…" I must breathe now even as I write. Twenty one words and eons of ill will. At first I was in shock and then I was afraid. Each replay opened a new awareness of how much someone could not bear my happiness.

Weeks earlier, on the Sunday we had announced our engagement, the Rebbe had responded to my request for a blessing for our marriage with the words, "May G‑d Almighty bless you to hear good news all the days of your life." As Rabbi Silberstein spoke to me now, that blessing rose to the surface of my mind like a plant to the surface of water. It floated there ever so briefly and then in silence sank back. I almost didn't notice it.

Discovering Wealth

Two days before my scheduled departure to South Africa for our marriage, I still didn't have my ticket. When it arrived in the mail that Friday at noon I excitedly called my mom to say, "No worries. The ticket arrived!"

My grandmother picked up.

"Bubby, I have it! The ticket arrived!" I cried.

She was silent.



"Oh my! It must be Shabbos at you," I said. "I'm sorry. Didn't realize it was so late. Tell mom I love her and I'll see you all on Sunday!"

I hung up.

What I didn't know is that my mother already knew about the accident. Having lit candles, she was standing in the entrance vestibule mouthing to my grandmother to not say a word.

Later she would tell me, "As I was bathing for Shabbat, a dirge kept going through my mind. I couldn't make sense of it. When the call came in about Yehoshua, I had minutes to candle lighting. I couldn't bear the thought of telling you in a rush and you all alone and then having to leave you in midair with all that pain until Sunday. I had to leave it to G-d to reveal the facts to you the way He thought fit."

"Eli, how is he?" I asked half an hour after leaving the bank.


"Eli, will there be a wedding?" I asked.

"No," he choked.

I sat down at the top of Shterna's stairs. The moment I put down the phone, I was the most alone I had ever been. The kitchen was empty behind me and the stairs seemed to stretch like a canyon before me. So this was my wealth. I would not see him again. The loneliness felt like it would rip my body in two. I looked up at the ceiling and a deep cry lifted from my heart and rose through my throat and out into the space above the canyon staircase.

In that lonely and grief filled stairwell, I did for a moment think of the phone message. I was quite certain she didn't know yet. But she would soon. Would she be happy? I was, after all, not going to marry Yeshoshua. Would she feel guilty? That somehow her jealous intent had killed him? I certainly didn't think so!

I felt then, and still do, a pity for her. How to live with having a wish like that realized. And never being able to definitively say, "It was not my doing" even though she could not possibly have cut his life shorter by even a moment. That doubt. Maybe the thought never occurred to her. In the event it did, I have often wanted her to know I feel no malice. Quite the contrary, her words serve as a signpost for me that G-d's remarkable world is abundant enough for all of us.

I guess her words did change my life and the fire brought me wealth after all.

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Opinions and Comments
Thanks for sharing and being open!
(7/17/2017 11:50:11 AM)
Guess I'm not in the know, a person can curse someone like that on the phone with a word? thanks.
(7/17/2017 12:02:55 PM)
Everything is only from hashems will
I dont believe that woman caused your fiance to die. Everything happens only by hashems will. No one can help or harm us except by hashems will. Bilaam tried to curse the jewish people and hashem changed it to a bracha. For whatever reason hashem decided your fiancee had finished his job on this earth and you were meant to marry someone else. Im sure this woman didnt want harm to come to you but was just jealous. Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven. For whatever reason hashem wanted you to hear those hateful words from that woman but it wasnt in her hand to harm you. Please dont hold a grudge against her.
(7/17/2017 12:17:09 PM)
Don't believe in curses
More ppl would die of curses from jealous people after getting engaged if curses were that powerful.
(7/17/2017 12:17:36 PM)
what a piece
I admire your writing. And i admire your heart. Thank you for this bit of soul. Can we hear more?
(7/17/2017 12:35:11 PM)
Everyone is responsible for their own spiritual outcome
Ones spiritual state can have a ripple effect on others but ultimately everyone is responsible for their own spiritual outcome. No one person is powerful enough to curse someone with anything. There are many jealous people who curse others who get engaged, especially if it was someone who they had feelings for or had been close to, and it didn't cause any of the engaged party to die, if it is hashem who makes those decisions.
(7/17/2017 12:59:57 PM)
No one can play g-d
No one can decide that someone cursed someone to die and/because no one can curse anyone to die. When someone curses another they in fact are the ones stirring negativity and naturally it will effect and be reflected on their own self. Th only way this jealous person could have caused him to die is if she actually did something to him that may have caused him to die. Just cursing someone without even hurting another physically or emotionally will not kill them.
(7/17/2017 1:38:19 PM)
Morning prayer
Words do have an effect. We daven every morning to keep us away from an ayin hara, from lashon hara, etc. We need to reflect on the power of our words, especially during the three weeks when the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed through baseless hatred, we have to build up baseless love. Because this happened to you, you can take that energy from the opposite of baseless love and channel it into baseless love for the one who cursed you and for every one.
(7/17/2017 3:33:47 PM)
Curses are real
Sometimes, they aren't actually vicious or malicious, but include things like.... you're so lucky, you have (fill in the blanks.) It's more of an ayn hora, but still dangerous.

My husbands aunt cursed us over a family matter; the letter she sent us 20 years ago was so horrific I actually burned it, as I didn't want it in my house. I never spoke to her again before she died.

The one thing that I always think of when this subject comes up: my father used to say a curse from a rasha is a bracha. So I try to turn the hurt into joy, the shaking horror into healthy anticipation. And I always wear a "reite bendle" (red string) as a talisman.

(7/17/2017 3:38:50 PM)
You sound stuck in time.
Perhaps some grieving counseling would be beneficial.
Sometimes we just have to move on.
Chasidim give blessings.
We don't give energy to curses and jealousy.
(7/17/2017 3:59:50 PM)
Who is in control of curses? Hashem :) On another note, words, the real tznius issue, are dangerous as used in bullying, threats, harassment.
(7/17/2017 4:28:37 PM)
100% true
I was once angry at someone for driving off and not being part of our get-together (although I made sure not to curse and I said again and again to myself "no harm should come to him") he had an accident which totaled his car. (Thank G-d he was ok) I made sure to ask forgiveness and still blame myself somewhat.
The authors point: your words (like actions) make a huge impact. You can't unsay your words so think twice before you speak and C"V to ask for something bad to happen to another Yid (its Asur). However we should always have Bitachon in Hashem that no matter what we will only have revealed good.
Moshiach now
(7/17/2017 4:35:28 PM)
Touched by your courage, honesty and generosity in sharing.
Keep on inspiring Jewish women everywhere! 💗
(7/17/2017 5:10:36 PM)
Thanks for being so vulnerable. That is a terrible and painful story and you are so strong for even being able to think back to it and describe it in detail. Your writing is sophisticated, deep, and incredible.To all the stupid comments that say something really idealistic and and intellectual as a response to such delicate pain...I have no words. Its simply not right. Please IGNORE these comments.
(7/17/2017 5:28:27 PM)
I don't think the accident happened because of her phone messages.
He left this world because God wanted his soul back.
Sometimes when we have questions ,we look for something that can resemble an answer.
I don't think her jealousy caused his death.
I hope you find healing and comfort for this awful tragedy.

These curses seem to have affected you for a long time.
Perhaps the girl who called you is reading this.
She'd probably be devastated to read that you think she has caused this calamity.

(7/17/2017 5:36:15 PM)
I have gone through tragic loss, and the feelings that you describe ,are common and universal.
They need to be worked through in therapy that is specific to grief,or else we an be stuck in our sorrow even many years later and even whilst going on and being happy in life and marriage..
these feelings are real and powerful,but may I suggest to share them privately or in therapy?
(7/17/2017 6:08:36 PM)
all specualtions
we want our brochos to work
we should be careful
not fargeen another can cause negative consequences, i have seen it
(7/17/2017 6:47:25 PM)
I don't get it
I get the honest sharing of past loss and pain. I'm taken by your telling some of your story. But the title and last sentence speak of some positive life change, and I read nothing of that in the piece.

And I'm sure you have such strong positive feelings for your husband and that he knows it and that you express it to him as clearly as you write about your feelings for the person you lost. So, lucky you, indeed.

Here's to obvious good for you and yours now and forward - without curses.

(7/17/2017 7:39:52 PM)
A rule for life
Avoid treating others with disrespect or cruelty and you avoid negativity from others. The way you treat others is often felt and remembered by them long after you forgot the snub - or the kindness - you offered them.
(7/17/2017 8:20:41 PM)
just to add....
We all know that ultimately, G-d is responsible for everything, but someone I know cursed his brother out at a beach when they were young & he said that he hoped his brother would drown.

The brother did.

Imagine living with that.
(7/18/2017 1:00:01 AM)
Thank you for sharing
Yakov told his son's to "enter from different gates in order not to to get an ayin hara!" -because they were tall good looking ....There is unfortunately jealousy and ill feelings . This is golus. Thank u for sharing your feelings . Perhaps a rabbi can answer and share how a person should approach someone who they feel has ill will towards them (sometimes it's just for assumptions which are not in your control!)
(7/18/2017 6:49:50 AM)
I have a friend who went through a divorce and her ex would constantly curse all of her friend and relatives.
I don't believe his words have power ,but it's a nasty thing to wish ill upon people.
Emotionally sound people don't wish others harm.
(7/18/2017 6:58:55 AM)
Powerful words
According to chassidus, words are powerful and we need to only be speaking (and thinking) well of others.
But if any of the readers think that they should fall into depression over this, chassidus also teaches that this isn't the way at all.
It's highly suggested for people to increase their study of Chassidus, not to mention halacha.

Thank you for sharing this.
(7/18/2017 12:09:15 PM)
Curses have power to those who believe in them
I have a sephardic friend who got a Get. Her EX cursed all the rabbis involved in the Get that they should live a short life and that all her single friends/cousins who supported her in getting the GET should never be married.

This was 6 years ago and all rabbis involved past away and not one of her friends or cousins have since been married. My friend truly believes in the curse and recently got married and suffered a miscarriage, which she believes is from the curse. This caused many issues in her new marriage and unfortunately she divorced again, to which her EX responded that his curse has worked.

I feel terrible for her but unfortunately for her culture, curses are very much real and their belief gives them real power.
(7/18/2017 12:28:25 PM)
Wouldn't you feel physical pain, or suffer from injury if someone hit you hard enough? In the same way curses can be 'effective' surely, especially if given in a calm manner.
(7/20/2017 5:58:16 AM)
I can't imagine
how anyone would even think for a second about cursing anyone else. How sad and sickening!
(7/20/2017 9:38:40 PM)
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