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Stories of Rabbi Meir Abuchatzeira (son of Baba Sali)

some stories from the book "Maase Nissim" by Rabbi Avraham Mugrabi (with permission):

I am a Tanna

Rabbi Meir was born in 5677 (1917). The night before the Brit (circumcision), Baba Sali saw in a dream a radiant form not of this world. Before the form disappeared, it called to him and said: "I am a Tanna" (mishnaic sage).

In the morning, when Baba Sali told the dream over to his teacher and Rabbi, R.Moshe Tourgeman, the latter told him to call the child "Meir". For "Stam Tanna Rebbi Meir"[1].

Already in his youth, the age of turbulence and play, he did not play with those of his age. His eyes did not leave the four cubits of Torah and service of G-d. In those early years, he secluded himself in a room for five years. There he focused all his being, powers, and senses towards growing in torah and service of G-d. He was completely disconnected from anything happening in the world around him.

The French language was a second language spoken in Morroco. But he did not know it. When one of his relatives asked him in his old age if he knew French, he replied: "Chalilah v'chas (G-d forbid), when did I have time to learn it? I was secluded fourteen years with my father on torah and avodah (service of G-d)" (already from the age of 7, his holy father woke him up every night at 2am for immersion in an ice cold wellpsring mikveh followed by torah study until the morning. His mother protested on the harsh regimen at such a tender age but Baba Sali did not agree).

In his later years, he testified on himself: "in Morroco, I was secluded for forty years and did not see the form of a woman!"

(presumably besides his wife and family. alternatively, see Genesis 12:11 "now it came to pass when Avraham drew near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, 'behold now I know that you are a woman of fair appearance'". Rashi: "until now, he did not recognize her [beauty] because of the modesty between them..")

When he left Morocco and immigrated to Israel, he was 48 years old.

When his wife Simcha died, he immigrated to Israel and settled in Ashdod. He did a Taanit Dibur (fast of silence) for 3 years "to receive the holiness of the land of Israel".. When a certain person claimed to him that he is neglecting his children, he replied: "what can I do, it is incumbent on me to purify Ashdod".

His son R.David Abuchatzeira describes the manner he went to the synagogue in Ashdod. Although the distance was only a few minutes walk, it took him about half an hour. He walked with his garment over his eyes (to not see women). When people saw him from the windows nearby, many simple Jews quickly descended leaving all their affairs in order to kiss the hand of the tzadik who dwelled among them.

By the time he reached the synagogue, about one hundred or more people accompanied him. Not long after, his Beit Midrash (synagogue) had more than five hundred people.


A Taste of Old

R.Meir was an outstanding torah scholar in all the chambers of torah. His wide and deep knowledge in torah combined with his knowledge of hidden things made his house into a magnet to torah scholars, heads of yeshivas, etc. etc.

One of the greatest halachic authorities of the times said of him as he left his home: "by Rabbi Meir, one receives a feeling for the holiness of the Tannaim and Amoraim (sages of the mishna and talmud)".


Only Torah

One time, a large group of torah scholars came to him asking his approbation for a religious newspaper which would have only torah content.

Many torah leaders gave their signature and approbation. But Rabbi Meir refused to give them an approbation. When they left, his son asked him: "father, why did you refuse? This newspaper is kosher and many of the great scholars of the generation signed on it".

Rabbi Meir replied: "my son, from the age of thirteen, I took upon myself to not look on even one letter which is not from the letters of the holy torah.."


Seeing Hidden Things

One time R.Yosef Waltach was making his way towards Rabbi Meir with another torah scholar. Along the whole way, they debated with each other whether R.Yaakov Abuchatzeira was accustomed to a certain custom.

When they reached the home of Rabbi Meir, before they said a word, R.Meir said: "R.Yaakov was accustomed on that custom thus and thus". He answered the topic they were arguing on during the whole trip.


Pillar of Fire

His son, R.David Abuchatzeira testified that the hidden tzadik R.Yosef Waltach once told him: "in a few days I will pass away". R.David told him: "Chas v'shalom, you will live a long life".

But R.Yosef kept to his word and said: "on the day your father passed away, I saw a pillar of fire from his grave to the heaven and that night he came to me in a dream, etc. and told me that in a few days I would leave this world."

R.Waltach passed away suddenly before the end of the month. R.David added that R.Waltach would come to the home of R.Meir almost every day [to learn torah with R.Meir]. He also added: "Rabbi Yosef Waltach told me many times that he saw a revelation of Eliyahu Hanavi by Rabbi Meir".



One time R.Meir asked me to hire some carpenters that I recognize to come to his home and repair the bookcase. They arrived to his home and he asked them to fix the bookcase which was very heavily loaded with books. But he told them on condition to not remove anything from the bookcase and that if they need to move the bookcase, that they must move it with all the books on it.

They tried for two hours to move the bookcase but were unable to begin the work. Then, R.Meir entered the room to see the situation and they told him that they are unable to move the bookcase with all the books and the Rabbi commanded them not to remove anything from the bookcase.

R.Meir told them: "the bookcase will move easily with G-d's help".

R.Meir then touched the bookcase and spoke to it: "Move!"

Immediately, they tried to move the bookcase, and it moved like something extremely light.

This story I heard from the carpenters...


Rainy Day

My son in law told me the following story. One time he had the opportunity to drive R.Meir from Netivot to Ashdod. It was the seventh night of the (Jewish) month, the night where one recites the blessing on the new moon. R.Meir was meticulous to recite the blessing for the new moon on the seventh night, even if he was alone.

That night it was raining very heavily. While driving on the road, R.Meir told my son-in-law: "please stop the car wherever you can".

My son-in-law told him: "honorable Rav, you can see how intense it is raining - where is there a moon?"

But R.Meir answered him: "you stop and G-d will help!"

My son-in-law stopped the car and that very moment the rain stopped. The Rabbi came out of the car, looked above and suddenly the moon emerged outside of the clouds. He blessed on the new moon with joy and when he finished, he returned inside the car.

Immediately, the rain returned just like it was before this.


I'll pay for everything

One time R.Meir was travelling from Netivot to Ashdod in a taxi. On the road, they drove behind a truck carrying Coca Cola. R.Meir asked the taxi driver to pass the Coca Cola truck and ask the driver to pull over.

The taxi driver was amazed at this but he did as R.Meir requested. When they stopped the truck, its driver came out very angry as to why they stopped him.

R.Meir told him: "I am pleading with you very very much to give me a can or bottle of drink because I am extremely thirsty."

The truck driver would not accept under any circumstances and said: "this is something that I must deliver. I will not open any package for you".

The Rabbi repeated to ask him a bottle claiming that he is simply going to die of thirst. But the truck driver refused.

The Rabbi replied: "listen, I am prepared to pay you the price of everything in the truck. Just give me something to drink".

But the truck driver refused very much and abandoned them and left.

The Rabbi arrived at his home in Ashdod and the taxi made his way back. On the way, the taxi driver saw the truck overturned and that the truck driver had been killed. The taxi driver returned to tell Rabbi Meir what had happened. For he thought R.Meir cursed him for not giving him a drink.

But R.Meir told him: "know that I saw the angel of death dancing above the truck and I knew what was about to happen to him. If he had given me a can or bottle of drink, he would have been saved from death in the merit of the mitzvah of doing kindness. I did not need to drink anything and never tasted Coca Cola in my life. I just wanted to find some merit for him to save him. Too bad that he pushed this away with his hands. Now his death is his atonement."


Stories from his son R.Elazar

His son Rabbi Elazar was a holy kabalist and also had phenomenal powers to see hidden things. Rabbi Elazar tells over: one time my grandfather, Baba Sali, went to a levaya (funeral) of a certain man who was not known as being a man of good deeds, nor was he a torah scholar. In fact, the man did not even know how to read. They asked Baba Sali what he saw to grant this man so much honor? Baba Sali answered them that he knows and recognizes this man for 60 years and never heard him say superfluous words or out of place words. He also never heard him ask questions like: "why did so and so do such and such". At that standing R.Meir also testified that he too knows this man and saw thus by him for at least 30 years.

Rabbi Elazar added and told over how one time one of his sisters came to visit his father, R.Meir, after not having seen him for two weeks. While talking she said something he was not pleased to hear and immediately, he put his fingers in his ears so as to not hear the words. Rabbi Elazar asked his father why he did not tell her to not say these things and preferred to block his ears? He replied that he did not want to embarrass her. But he asked R.Elazar that when the opportunity comes, to speak to her in a pleasant way and explain to her the virtue of silence, how important it is. Included in this is to not speak unnecessary things. Rabbi Elazar said that he did this and spoke to his sister on the virtue of guarding one's mouth and the great reward of one who muzzles his mouth from speaking unnecessary words - (Pikudat Elazar, pg.192).

To Learn silence from an Am Haaretz
My master and teacher, my father, sat me after my Bar Mitzvah (age 13) next to a complete Am Haaretz (ignorant Jew). I had never seen a bigger Am Haaretz than him. I did not know why my master and father sat me next to him? - until one time someone entered the synagogue and asked if they had already prayed the Mincha (afternoon) prayer. He nodded his head. He did not utter a word out of his mouth. Then I understood why my master and father sat me next to him - in order to learn from him to be silent and speak only necessary words. In that generation people were not lamdanim (sharp scholars), but they were whole (temimim) and they did not speak slander (Lashon Hara) at all. - Tanna d'Bei Rebbi Eliezer, pg.46


>> Next: Menachem Menashe


  • [1] Tanna means sage. In the talmud is stated a general principle that whenever the mishna's author is not specified, then it is the Tanna Rebbi Meir (see Eiruvin 13a)

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