R. Moshe Yaakov Ravikov
the holy shoemaker
Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Cohen Ravikov (1873-1966), known as the holy shoemaker, was a hidden tzadik. Born in Russia, he was a great torah scholar in both revealed and hidden torah. In Russia, he learned kabala from R.Shlomo Elyashiv, author of the "Leshem" and reportedly he even had a hand in Kabala Maasit (practical kabbala, which requires extreme holiness).
Eventually he emigrated to Israel and settled in Shavzi street in Tel Aviv. He merited to great levels of ruach hakodesh (holy spirit) and was part of a secret group of Kabbalists from decades ago who presented themselves to the outside world as simple laborers, including Rabbi Yehudah Patilon, the Painter; Rabbi Yosef Waltuch, the Streetsweeper; and Rabbi Ezrah and Chaim Perachyah, the cheesemaker (the group also included R.Yehuda Segal, R. Meir Sabato, R. Yehoshua Sharbani, R.Avraham Cohen, and others).
For most of his life, the shoemaker succeeded in hiding his great spiritual level. He worked by day as a shoemaker living a very simple life with no luxuries. During his shop's working hours, he would often sit in the back room with other hidden Kabbalists and delve into the depths of the Hidden Torah (Kabbalah). When someone walked into his shop needing assistance, he closed his book and appeared from the back room to service their needs, appearing to all as a simple shop worker. He refused customers to pay the full listed price for his repairs and requested they pay a few coins less in case his repairs failed to match his advertised lasting time. His pious deeds were a reflection of his great spiritual level.
It was said he was the head of the 36 hidden righteous men of his generation. The Chazon Ish would often send people to him to receive blessings and prayers and encouraged him to reveal himself for the benefit of the public.
The holy shoemaker was a "Poel Yeshuot" (Miracle worker). After his reputation spread out, numerous people began to flock to him, seeking his blessing for health, children, matches and more. Day after day, many who sought salvation received his blessing, and merited its fulfilment.
It was said that every person struck with hardship and adversity would come out of his home with a smile on his face! Prime Ministers were also secretly coming to his home to consult with him.
R.Moshe Yaakov would say: "the thing important in tzedaka (charity) is that when a person gives, he gives with a joyous heart and does not feel loss in giving. Then this person makes himself into a partner with G-d, blessed be He, in this giving. For in Psalms 89:3 - "the world will be forever built upon kindness" (Olam Chesed Yibaneh). G-d does kindness with every human being. The entire creation which G-d created - it is all kindness. Thus, if a man helps his fellow and does kindness to him like our Father in Heaven, this makes a mark in Heaven and G-d guards him in all matters" (from: "Betzel Ilan Hachaim).
R.Moshe Yaakov was also well known for his harmonious and wonderful relationship with his wife. He always consulted her before he made major decisions, considered her feelings, and did his best to secure her blessing in everything he did. His wife's happiness was a priority, and such is the path of the truly righteous (Rabbi Dror Cassouto).
In his will, he left a bottle of wine to be opened after victory over the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nassar. Six months after his passing, this came to fruition with the Six-Day War (1967). It was a massive Israeli success over Egypt and the surrounding Arab countries, which expanded Israel's territory tremendously, including the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and most notably - the Holy City of Jerusalem including the Western Wall. Many miracles occurred during this war. The bottle of wine was opened.
Four LettersThe holy shoemaker reportedly left four letters before he died. In them was written, what will happen in Israel in the coming years such as the 6 day war, the Yom Kippur War, and the Gulf war. The fourth letter was in the hands of Rabbi Chaim Cohen Perachyah (the cheesemaker). In it the holy shoemaker wrote the events prior to the coming of the Geulah.
When the date written on the envelope arrived, R.Chaim opened the letter and that year he arranged many many tikunim and hakafot with the four minim (of Sukkot). He even sat a Beit Din with Sifrei Torah and did many things to try to annul the bad decrees.. However, he refused to reveal what was written in these letters. Many times he was asked on the contents of the letter but did not answer (from: "Betzel Ilan Hachaim).
Many stories have emerged, describing the holy shoemaker's great actions and even miracles beyond the laws of nature, such as the following story:
A neighbor of his testified that the Holy Shoemakers' light would be on every night at a very late hour. The neighbor was very curious about what he was doing every night, and one day he had the holy chutzpah to peek over the short wall that was a barrier to his house and look inside his living quarters. What he saw left him in shock and awe. The Holy Shoemaker was sitting stooped over a book. Surrounding him in a circle were certain beings, similar in the figure to humans, but not of this World. The light filling his room was coming from them! (from "Tzadikim Nistarim B'Dor Acharon Vol.2")
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