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R.Chaim Cohen Perachyah
haChalban/the Cheesemaker


the following stories are from the book "BeTzel Ilan Hachaim" Vol.1 on Rabbi Chaim Cohen (Chalban) Perachyah (with permission)

R.Chaim Cohen Perachyah, otherwise known as the "Chalban" (cheesemaker) was the last and thus best known of a special group of hidden tzadikim who appeared as simple laborers. He was extremely humble and wise, and possessing phenomenal powers of ruach hakodesh (holy spirit). Since young age, he was gifted from heaven with spiritual vision. He could gaze out and know hidden things, spiritual and physical, past and even future. Despite all this greatness, he appeared to most people as a simple dairy worker.

In his youth, R.Chaim met many of the hidden tzadikim of last generation thanks to his father, R.Ezrah Cohen Perachyah who was himself one of the hidden tzadikim.
 

R.Chaim 2nd to left, R.Ezrah his father (3rd to left), R.Yehudah Patilon (5th to left)

some stories..

Don't Worry

During the war of independence, when everyone slept in fear in bunkers, young Chaim had a dream. In his dream, behold, Eliyahu Hanavi calms him down saying: "don't worry, here there won't be any bombs". Then Eliyahu Hanavi specified to the child all the places where there will be bombs and where there won't be. Then Chaim woke up and behold it was a dream.

In the morning, little Chaim ran to his father, R.Ezrah Cohen, and told him the contents of the dream. R.Ezrah was happy to hear about this and to Chaim's surprise, his father answered him: "yes, Eliyahu Hanavi already updated me on all this".

Black Stain on Forehead

One day young Chaim was walking on the street and he saw a man with a black stain on his forehead. Chaim wondered at this and wanted to turn to him and ask him why he does not wash off the black stain on his forehead.. But his friends, the hidden tzadikim who were with him, R.Hillel Simchon and R.Shmuel Arwatz explained to him that this was a spiritual stain which are due to the sins of this man (that only he can see). When Chaim heard this, he beseeched these tzadikim to teach him this torah, namely, "how to read and understand each stain which has a radiant aura on a person's head and the secret of the (Hebrew) letters which appear on a person's forehead".

When these tzadikim saw that Chaim was careful to guard himself in holiness and that already at a young age the spirit of G-d was with him, they agreed to teach him...

R.Chaim was very careful to distance from anything impure such as from someone who did not immerse in a mikveh that day. He attained very high levels such that when he travelled to certain places, he refrained many times from sitting on certain chairs or beds saying: "these places are filthy with the sins of people, how can I sit there?" He would immediately flee from the area. He could even detect on inanimate objects what people did on them and flee from them as from fire..
(R.Chaim was asked once if there are demons today in Israel? He replied: "although our sages said that there are no demons in Israel, but nevertheless due to the lack of tzniut (modesty in dress) of today there are indeed demons in Israel".)

Nobody Here

One time , R.Chaim went with the hidden tzadik R.Yosef Waltuch to the grave of the mishnaic sage R.Shimon bar Yochai in Meron. When he entered the grave area he turned to R.Yosef and asked: "R.Yosef, what happened today that there are so many people here?" But R.Yosef smiled and said: "Chaim, only you can see these things. There is almost no one here. That which you see are the souls of many (dead people) who came to seek a tikun (rectification) at the grave of R.Shimon bar Yochai."

Kavanot

Rabbi Chaim learned with several hidden tzadikim and at the age of fifteen was already proficient in all the kavanot (kabalistic meditations) in the prayer book of the Rashash by heart in all its minute details. Already at the age of 13, he would pray to G-d to help him memorize them by heart so that he would not need to carry a prayer book of the Rashash and thus not stand out around people. Thus, he merited to pray with the kavanot of the Rashash by heart.

The Candles of Chanuka

Rabbi Chaim was asked what he is used to doing before the candles of Chanukah. He replied: "on the candles of Chanukah, one can see the Ohr Haganuz (hidden light of Genesis 1:3). One also sees the future events of that year. During the candle lighting, I am used to gazing at them and arranging a "cheshbon hanefesh" (spiritual accounting) and hitbodedut (seclusion) between myself and my Maker.

On Your Ears

R.Chaim's spiritual vision was extremely wondrous. Besides that he could see on a man all of his deeds, good or bad, he could also see on his clothes everything he did with them. One time a man came to him and tried to hide his forehead with his hat fearing R.Chaim would see his sins. But R.Chaim turned to him and said: "even on your ears I can see your deeds. You don't need to hide your forehead".

After Sukkot, some of his students would come to him with their Esrog. R.Chaim would gaze with his holy eyes at the Esrog they blessed on during the days of Sukkot. Through this gazing, he would tell the person what he needs to rectify, what bad trait he had, he would also see on the Esrog all the prayers of the person from Rosh Hashana until Simchat Torah (22 days) in details - what he was thinking when saying each word of his prayers of each day. He would also reveal the level of teshuva (repentance) of each person, which sections and tractates of talmud he learned the whole year, and even the future events for that year, he could see through the Esrog. It was very fearful to stand before him at those times. For his eyes penetrated all of man's matters, spiritual and physical and he rebuked each person in order to bring the person closer to G-d.

I see you everywhere

R.Chaim once told his student Nachman M.: "know that I see all your deeds at all times wherever you are. For I came down to this world in order to help and save the Jewish people (from troubles). And everywhere you mention my name, I hear you and help you in what you need. Only be careful not to trouble me when I am sleeping at night. For then too I see all that happens to you".

One time, when one of his students was going to marry, he asked R.Chaim: "please pray for me that I will merit to live near you". But R.Chaim replied: "it is not necessary, I see you well everywhere. It's enough that you come to me once in a while".

Don't you understand?

Daily examples abound of where it was not possible to hide anything from R.Chaim. His student Moshe L. told over how one time during work he had a very strong desire to study with R.Chaim. He was full of desire and longing for this. With this longing, he went up to the upper floor to be alone and beseeched G-d to help him merit to learn with R.Chaim as tears flowed down his face. After he finished his prayer, he went back down to the area he worked and within five minutes the telephone rang. R.Chaim was on the line and told him: "Don't you understand that I don't learn with anyone!"

Why should the birds be afraid of me?

when R.Chaim sat in the courtyard of his home, many times birds would come and sit on his palm and eat their food.. One time when R.Chaim was asked on this matter, he replied: "why should the birds be afraid of me? I never in my life harmed or did anything bad to any person in the world, rather only kindness.."
 



Afterword

The following is from the parsha sheet: "Al Ken Yomru HaMoshlim" p.miketz

In the book, "Shiur Chomesh" by R. Shlomo Wolbe: "we should know that a person who is close to the spiritual sees things in dreams. One who does not dream at all, this is a sign that he is far from the spiritual worlds. In earlier generations, even the gentiles were close to the spiritual. Even wicked people, like the "chief cupbearer" or the "chief baker" (Genesis 40:2). Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz once told us he dreamt that he became sick and a certain doctor healed him. He indeed became sick and many doctors tried to heal him unsuccessfully until eventually he had that doctor brought and was healed by him.

Similarly, when he was informed that R.Naftali Trop died, he exclaimed: "ah- that was it!". He was asked what he meant and he replied that he had dreamt the night before that a sefer torah was torn up. He knew something had happened.. He explained that one who thinks true thoughts, then his dreams are also true.

R.Yerucham explained that angels announce the decrees coming out of the heavenly Beit Din (court) and a pure person, whose spiritual side is dominant, can hear them.

In the torah, Avraham asked Eliezer and Yishmael if they can see the (spiritual) cloud on Mount Moriah. When they replied that they could not, he told them: "stay here with the donkey" (Genesis 22:5) - the people similar to a donkey. For the donkey is a symbol of physicality. For Avraham it was obvious that one can see such revelations and one who does not see them - is like a donkey, i.e. immersed in the physical. A human being is like a radio receiver, he can detect what happens in the upper worlds and the decrees that come out from there.

"My friend", said R.Shlomo Wolbe, "from Yeshiva Mir, told me that when he was young and studying in Mir, he lifted his cup for the kidush on Passover and suddenly, he saw a vision of his father being killed in a pogrom. He put the cup down and started to cry. The next day a telegram arrived with news that his father had been killed yesterday".

R.Yerucham would say that to know things decreed from the heavenly Beit Din is something easy that every child can do, (as scripture says: "for a bird of the air will carry the voice, or some winged creature tell the matter" - Ecclesiastes 10:20).
(interestingly, even animals seem to have some sort of premonition as they often flee areas just before natural disasters. many report that dogs can sense when their owner is coming home and the dog excitedly waits at the door)

But to know what will happen in the future - this is already greatness...
 


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