The Kabbalistic Murder Code: Mystery & International Conspiracies (Historical Crime Thriller Book 1)

BOOK: The Kabbalistic Murder Code: Mystery & International Conspiracies (Historical Crime Thriller Book 1)
6.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Kabbalistic Murder Code



Nathan Erez




Editor: Dorit Silverman

All of the historic events, the developments of the Hebrew scripts, and the customs of Kabbalah as described in this book are authentic and factual.


Copyright© 2011 By Nathan Erez

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing.

The First Sphere
The British Conquest of Jerusalem


The British ascended to Jerusalem in 1917 of the Common Era, the seventh year of the reign of his exalted Majesty King George V. At first they camped on a high, unpopulated plane in the western part of the city, but after remnants of the Turkish Ottoman army had retreated, the Mayor of Jerusalem, Hussein Effendi al-Hussein and his deputy took it upon themselves to surrender.  They picked up the keys to the city and set out in search of the British army, bent on swearing an oath of allegiance to their new rulers.

              The first two British soldiers they encountered and to whom they offered to surrender happened to be cooks out on a mission to forage for vegetables for their commanding officer, a lieutenant. The cooks went to fetch their lieutenant, and the mayor and his deputy promptly surrendered. But the lieutenant was apprehensive about being the one to accept the surrender of the Holy City of Jerusalem and led the two dignitaries to his commanding officer, a captain who at first accepted their surrender, but then, feeling he might not be the proper party to accept the surrender of the City of God, he demanded that they re-surrender, this time to his commanding officer, a man with the rank of lieutenant colonel. However, after accepting their surrender of all the Holy Sites, the lieutenant colonel had second thoughts about his suitability for the task, and sent the bemused mayor and his deputy up the hierarchical line. After surrendering a number of times, the two finally came face to face with the Commander-in-Chief, General Allenby himself, but by now the mayor and his deputy categorically refused to surrender, arguing convincingly that they had already done so too many times.

              Because of the numerous times the city fathers had surrendered and the lack of clarity as to who had been the one to liberate the city from the Ottomans, there is doubt as to the exact site where this took place. The soldiers of the Sixth London Division eventually erected a memorial to their fallen comrades, which states: “Near this place Jerusalem surrendered to His Majesty’s gallant forces.” Of course, this monument is unable to go into great detail as to the events leading to that surrender, since most of those who died in conquering the city did so as a result of inadequate diet or various exotic Oriental diseases, and not at the hands of the Turks.


Elijah searched for the place where his meeting was scheduled to take place.   It was a meeting, which he did not know was to change his entire life, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of the Allenby Memorial. As he continued to search, he found himself once again staring at the memorial erected by the soldiers of the Sixth London Division to commemorate their fallen comrades. He kept coming upon the memorial from a different direction each time, after climbing down steep stairwells and entering musty alleys, all the while followed by the suspicious eyes of old women, tracking his every move. When he came face to face with the memorial for the fourth time, he decided he had no alternative but to ask for directions, but soon realized that everyone he approached was as much in the dark as he was.

              “There is no Luzatto family,” an old woman told him crossly, after he had explained, with great difficulty, that he was looking for the Luzatto Institute for Jewish Studies. An elderly fellow with a hearing aid stopped and thought at length while leaning on his cane. “Sorry, young man, I’ve been living in this area for forty years and I have to tell you that there is no institute by that name here.” Elijah thanked him politely and moved away quickly. He had walked only a few yards when the man called him back to say, “It has just occurred to me that Luzatto could be an Italian name,” said the old man. “Maybe you should check with the Italian Consulate.” Elijah thanked him profusely and rushed off before the helpful old man could produce any more useful suggestions.

              In the distance he saw a boy riding a bicycle and signaled to him to pull up. Elijah hurried over to the boy and again asked for directions to the Luzatto Institute.

              “I don’t know anyone called Luzatto,” said the boy, “What street does the guy live on?”

              Embarrassed, Elijah realized that he had not mentioned the name of the street to any of the people he had approached for directions. He looked inside the envelope and read the letterhead.

              “It’s 6 Judah Mani Street,” he said. “Corner of Mani and Chelouche Streets and there’s a bell on the mailbox.”

              “Well, you’re on Mani Street,” said the boy as he rode off on his bicycle.

              Elijah looked up, amazed to discover that he really was on Mani Street. A quick walk brought him to No. 6 and, within seconds, he was facing the mailbox. The mailbox appeared new and locked and bore a small sign in English telling him that this was exactly what he was looking for: The Luzatto Institute for Jewish Studies. He glanced again at the note. Convinced that he passed this very spot at least twice in the last half hour, he couldn’t understand why he had been unable to find the place before.

              There seemed to be no explanation for his inability to find the address, but he concluded, logically, that the British, too, had most probably  gone astray in this part of Jerusalem. Elijah smiled, recalling again how the British had conquered Jerusalem. His mind buzzed with thoughts of his favorite hobby, the various conquests of Jerusalem. Every nook and cranny in the city held a special meaning for him, every layer of stones brought to mind a different conqueror. When it came to the holy city of Jerusalem, Elijah was a veritable fount of knowledge, and his wife often asked herself if there was more to Professor Elijah Shemtov than met the eye.

              It was almost 11:30 am and he was half an hour late for his meeting when he rang the doorbell, which was slightly hidden alongside the mailbox. A tinny voice with an indefinable accent emanated immediately from the speaker.

              “Good morning, Professor. Do please come in. The gate is open.”

              It was very difficult from outside to discern the house, which was surrounded by a stone wall, topped by an iron railing that had seen better days. Together, the wall and railing were about five feet high and the lush climbing ivy, which covered them completely, obliterated any view of the house for anyone standing outside. Entering the gate, he was faced with a panoramic view of a garden, behind which stood what appeared to be a tower. Like most Jerusalem houses of that period, the first three levels were made of rough rock, while the stories above were hewn stone. The house had clearly undergone extensive renovations in the not-too-distant past; its roof had been tiled and a high porch was built onto the building. The garden appeared well tended, but it consisted mainly of perennials, with no flowers that might need constant care. The large, well established cypresses and pines in the garden were clear evidence that this house had stood there for a long time. Elijah walked up the path leading to the front door, which opened even before he reached it.

              As he walked inside, the door closed silently after him. If the outside appearance of the house had surprised him, the interior design was totally mind-boggling. It had been totally demolished and rebuilt. If the house had once been three stories high, there was no longer any evidence of this. The entrance led directly into a large hall, which reached up to the roof. Up above, a gallery ran along three sides of the house, accessible by two separate flights of stairs. All the walls, except one, were lined with bookcases full of books, with some paintings interspersed among them. Here and there, square wooden beams served to prop up the bookcases. In the middle of the house there was a smallish sitting area, and on the wall next to it a huge window overlooked the garden. The impression of all this was not one of ostentation, but rather that the owner was a person of discreet aristocratic taste.

              Elijah had never been one to walk by a bookcase without examining its contents and now decided to check through the books, while he waited for someone to appear. The library was full of old and new textbooks, randomly arranged on the shelves. The Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds lay beside history volumes and research studies, Hebrew books next to books in English, German, and other foreign languages. Large and small books, thick and thin volumes, shiny covers next to dull bindings stood side by side, emitting a somewhat dusty odor.

              A man entered the room, as quiet as a cat. He was obviously Asian in origin - Japanese or Korean or Chinese–but Elijah had never been able to distinguish between them. Coming in from behind him, the gaunt man took Elijah by surprise and promptly handed him one of two forms he was holding.

              In fluent English, with no trace of an accent, the man said, “Good morning. You will need to fill in your personal details before the meeting.” Elijah could not take his eyes off the man. He had many questions, but somehow they all stuck in his throat. He glanced at the page; it was a standard form and seemed to deal mainly with the number of the bank account to which his salary was to be transferred.

“Are you sure you have no middle name?” asked the Japanese or Korean or Chinese robot. “Your first name is Elijah and your last name is Shemtov. Don’t you have any other name?”

              Elijah was taken aback by the very question, and took his time before answering. “As a child, I used to be known as Eli. I have no other name.” That was his first lie, one of a long series of lies he would tell that summer.  It would be several days before he realized its full portent.

              After filling in the form, Elijah handed it to the man, who put it aside without so much as a glance. He handed Elijah the second form, and said, “This is the Institute’s standard employment contract. I hope the provisions do not confuse you. It was, unfortunately, drafted by a lawyer, one of the necessary evils in our society, and it might appear somewhat threatening.”

              Elijah felt uneasy. The contract included a number of major provisions and he was to agree to them all. First, all the work had to be conducted within the confines of the Institute. It could be done at any time, day or night, but no material was to be removed from the premises. Second, the employee understood and agreed that he was forbidden to give out any information, either verbal or written, regarding his work, without the express permission, in writing, of the Institute’s management. Third, he was aware of the conditions of employment and agreed to abide by them in full. The rest of the contract dealt with the financial aspects, specifying that he would be paid according to “the customary payment schedule”.

              Unable to pinpoint any specific problem with the contract, he signed and returned it. Only then did he realize that he had not even tried to find out what was meant by “the customary payment schedule” or, indeed, what kind of a salary he could expect to be paid. Before he had time to curse himself and his department head, Professor Landau, who had sent him to the Institute in the first place, the inscrutable robot disappeared. Again Elijah found himself in the high-ceilinged room, which reminded him of a church, but now he had already signed an employment contract without having so much as an inkling as to what he was doing in this place. He was angry with himself for having allowed himself to become the archetypal “absent minded professor”. Whenever anyone broached him about anything beyond his own field of expertise, he would simply tune out and think of other matters instead, going back obsessively to the different conquests of Jerusalem or to his own work. Only when he realized that the other person had finished speaking and that he had no idea what had been said or required of him, would he ask the person to repeat himself. Such had been the case the day before, when Professor Landau had asked him to pay a visit to the Luzatto Institute at 11:00 am this morning.

              Soon he would have to pick up his young daughters, and here he was with a signed contract and without the faintest idea of what he was supposed to do, what his employment conditions were, the size of his salary and - most important of all - if he could make it to the nursery school in time.

              He knew only that Professor Landau had pounded on his door only yesterday afternoon and, quite uncharacteristically and without waiting for an answer, Landau had burst into the room. Landau, who was short and slim, had a shock of silver hair that added significantly to his height. Generally, he was a very soft-spoken man, who projected an aura of calm, but this time his behavior was totally at odds with his customary demeanor.

              “Elijah, I need you to do me a huge favor.”

              “What’s the problem?” asked Elijah, amazed at Landau’s transformation, but also flattered by the request. After all, it was not every day that the department head asked a big favor of a minor lecturer who had not yet even been awarded tenure.

              “They are looking for someone with experience in deciphering written texts, as part of a small project over the summer.”

              “All right, but why me?” asked Elijah.

              Elijah had plenty of experience in this kind of work. He’d recently been assigned to decipher an illegible manuscript written by an 18
century Bukharan Jew. The manuscript, which had been written in a Spanish hand in its Persian variation, was an inferior commentary on the Book of Esther. However, the author’s great-grandson, a building contractor who had recently struck it rich, wanted to have it published. The work had taken much longer than Elijah had planned, and the contractor felt that not only had he bought Elijah’s expertise, but Elijah himself- lock, stock and barrel. Every day he would call Elijah’s home to check up on his progress. Then, in what he thought was an act of supreme generosity, the contractor had presented Elijah with twenty copies of the printed work. Elijah had been unable to get rid of them, and now they would no doubt remain with him forever, taking up valuable shelf space. Elijah remembered that particular case ruefully; the last thing he wanted was to spend this summer plowing through another such experience.

              “I did actually try to put forward other candidates, but they asked for you specifically. You may take that as a compliment.” This, coming from his head of department, who was also the head of the tenure committee, left Elijah no choice.

              Just as he was about to begin wallowing in self-pity, Elijah’s reverie was interrupted by the arrival in the room of a thin man with a short beard and thick-lensed glasses. He was dressed in a neat black suit but wore no tie.

              “I’m David Norman,” he said, “and I’m happy to meet you, Professor Shemtov.”

              “Doctor Shemtov,” Elijah corrected him, although he was quite flattered by the title by which he had been addressed.

              “Have you ever seen the monument to General Allenby? The monument has never been completed, you know. The original plan was to have a statue of General Allenby astride a horse. However, as is the case with so many of Jerusalem’s dreams, the monument is still standing there forlornly, waiting for its horse.”

              Despite his impatience and the need to learn what exactly he was being commissioned to do, Elijah restricted his response to a few polite words about the beauty of the house.

              “You no doubt know that this house, in addition to its real estate value, is of great historical value as well. The house was formerly the property of Benzion Mammon, a Jewish magistrate at the time when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire, who had been finally able to settle a long-running dispute between the Arabs of two Jerusalem suburbs, Lifta and Sheikh Jarrah. In return, the Mukhtar, or head, of the village of Lifta, agreed to sell Mammon the land surrounding the monument in order to build a Jewish neighborhood on it. Parting with this land posed no problem to the Mukhtar. The land, being located on top of a hill and suffering fiercely cold winters, consisted of inhospitable terrain.

BOOK: The Kabbalistic Murder Code: Mystery & International Conspiracies (Historical Crime Thriller Book 1)
6.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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