Kenneth Cohen

The danger of ‘Eirav Rav’

As we begin the Book of Shemot, we become acquainted with the term, “Eirav Rav,” or mixed multitude. This referred to a group of insincere converts that latched on to the Jewish people in Egypt, and have been a thorn in our side ever since.

Some view this term as a concept that refers also to Jews who betray their own people. They question whether or not there are actually individuals today that are so evil, and are such traitors to the Jewish people, that they are the Eirav Rav of our generation.

The Talmud in Masechet Chagiga, says clearly that Hashem transplants the souls of Eirav Rav in specific individuals in every generation. The Zohar also says that they exist, and they are the cause for the majority of the problems facing the Jewish people. The Zohar says further that they are holding back the Redemption.

Later Torah giants, such as the Ari Zal, and the Vilna Gaon, wrote extensively about the Eirav Rav and the evil they possess. They are described as Jews who are particularly argumentative and egotistical. Their goal is to tear down, rather than to build. We are not supposed to point fingers at individuals and accuse them of being Eirav Rav. However, it has been extremely disturbing to see how the media has been particularly destructive in their coverage of the events since October the seventh. The nation is in pain and in mourning. It makes things much worse by putting salt on our wounds, by giving us a barrage of bad news, with very few words of optimism and hope. They could have used their role to help us through the crisis. Instead, they made things much worse.

It is important to note that the Ari Zal, and Rav Kook, said that it is possible for the Eirav Rav to do Teshuva and repent. Now is the time to unite and insist that we silence the negative forces in our society. They must not be able to damage that special unity that we developed during these difficult times. There is definitely Eirav Rav among us. We must pray and help them mend their ways, so that our Redemption can come swiftly.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at