Rejoice Bar Yochai

15 Minutes and 45 seconds , 1967
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Directed by: Haim Heller
The opening caption features an in memoriam dedication to 15th century mystical figure, Joseph della Reina whose story is recounted here (with voiceover narration by filmmaker and poet Raquel Chalfi). Della Reina, as the story goes, sought to rid the world of the archangel, Samael. Before embarking on his mission with his disciples, the group all gathered at Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s tomb (aka Rashbi). There, Rabbi Shimon himself, the 2nd century BCE Tannaitic sage (about whom we find out more through director and playwright, Naftali Yavin’s voiceover narration) came to della Reina in an epiphany. The film before us is made up of these two storylines – both of which are taken from the Kabbalah – which the director juxtaposes with footage from the annual Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai religious rave at Israel’s Mount Meron. The tension between the two elements confronts the scared with the secular, whilst emphasising the spellbinding, mystical folklore elements that are part and parcel of these types of narratives.
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