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<<Previous: The Cheesemaker

R.Chaim Cohen Perachyah
haChalvan/the Cheesemaker - immersion in Mikveh


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 a hidden tzadik, who merited from a young age to wondrous ruach hakodesh (holy spirit) on a very high level. The hidden tzadik, R.Avraham Chai, said on him many times: "R.Chaim Cohen, has the number one ruach hakodesh in this generation!!".

Immersion in a Mikveh

R.Chaim was very meticulous about immersing in a Mikveh (ritual bath) each day. Besides immersing before the morning prayer, he would immerse again after the prayer before going to work and again before the mincha (afternoon) prayer or other times during the day. All this was part of his great meticulousness in guarding purity and holiness.

Together with this, he was very careful that anyone who did not immerse in a Mikveh that day would not touch him.. And he could recognize and see on each person whether or not he immersed that day. If someone who did not immerse wanted to shake his hand, he would refrain from this saying: "whoever did not immerse, please do not touch me".

R.Chaim's spiritual vision was so deep that he was able to perceive the "surrounding light" (aura) around a person after immersion in a mikveh. He was also able to see what kind of mikveh the person immersed in whether, cold or hot, spring water, sea water, or mikveh in a building. He was even able to see whether the mikveh had the hole (connecting to the source mikveh) shut or open.

According to the kabala, there are different levels of holiness in Mikvehs. The highest level is immersion in the source of spring water which corresponds to "Keter" (crown), next level down is spring water which is "chochma" (wisdom), then the sea, and lowest is a standard mikveh (in a building). Each of these levels hints to the holiness of the upper worlds and the higher the world, the greater the holiness drawn from it.

This secret, R.Chaim was able to perceive with his spiritual vision. He would exhort people that if they immersed in a mikveh where the hashaka (connecting hole) was closed it is good to open it so that the holiness will be greater. He would also tell people that it is better to immerse closer to the connecting hole which is closer to the source, for there the holiness is greater.

R.Yehuda Shinfeld, a student of R.Chaim once came to him with several bottles full of water which he filled from different places, some from spring water, sea, mikveh, etc. and when he showed them to R.Chaim, he told him immediately from where he filled each bottle. And likewise, for cups which were immersed in different places, R.Chaim was able to discern whether it was immersed in spring water, the sea, or a mikveh. He never erred in this and knew exactly which light shined on each bottle or cup.

Once R.Chaim told Rabbi Gideon Rabiyov: "I saw on several of my students that the light of the Mikveh stays on them all day. I wondered greatly on this, for one who immerses in the morning, generally, in the afternoon the light has dimmed somewhat. But by them, the light shined in full force all day. In the end I found out that they immerse in the morning and also in the afternoon. Then I understood why the light on them shines so much".

R.Chaim would also say: every spring has a quality. The spring of "Safsufa" (in northern Israel) has the holiness of Shmaya and Avtalyon and is good for repentance. Likewise for the Mikveh of the Arizal in Safed. The spring of "Lifta" (in Jerusalem) is good for wisdom and likewise the one near the grave of Samuel the prophet. The spring of "Shiluach" (near the old city) and likewise near Bayit Vegan is good for healing. The spring near Bethlehem in the Galil is good for wisdom and repentance since the holy Tanaim (mishnaic sages) immersed there...

"There is no comparison between in depth torah study with purity of mikveh to that without. One who learns without mikveh is like one standing below looking up who is easily distracted. But one who enters the chambers of torah in holiness can become completely immersed inside with his whole being and life."

R.Chaim would say: "anything which is done for 40 days straight receives great strength.. Therefore, every good conduct or rectification of character trait done for 40 days straight becomes strong and enduring to successfully acquire it. For G-d sees his desire and helps him. One who immerses in a mikveh daily for 40 days straight merits that a holy soul enters him. It is a segulah to write twice a day the trait one wants to strengthen in. For example, one who wants to refrain from anger, let him write in a notepad twice a day for 40 days: 'today no anger'. This is tried and tested".

How was the Shower?

A certain person, once went to the mikveh but did not immerse. Instead he just took a shower. And when he came to R.Chaim, R.Chaim told him: "nu, how was the shower?"

World of Teshuva

Everyone knew Rabeinu's great meticulousness in the matter of mikvah. He would say: "the light of mikveh is the light of the world of teshuva (ohr hamikveh olam hateshuva). A man is obligated to repent every day, and it is impossible to reach true teshuva without mikveh"..

The Kabalist, Rabbi Shlomo Batzri told over: one time Rabeinu spoke on the maalat (benefits) of Mikveh. He said: "one is obligated to do teshuva before immersing and to say vidui and afterwards to immerse 13 times. But if one does not say vidui before immersing, it is better to not immerse."

He would say: "when a man enters in the mikvah, he is like a fetus in its mother's womb. And just like forty days before an embryo is formed, the nature of the baby is formed, whether good or bad (wise or foolish, etc.) So too the segulah of forty se'ah of mikveh is to return a man to this situation and to transform his nature to good. Therefore, it is good to do at least one immersion in such a way that he does not touch the walls or floor of the mikvah with his hands or feet like a fetus which is entirely inside the water and is folded there..."

He would also say: "a person needs to do teshuva before every prayer - shacharit, minchah and arvit (maariv). Only if he prays mincha and arvit together, it is enough that he does this before mincha and it will count for arvit also. One should know that through the power of prayer, one can reach levels of prophecy and ruach hakodesh. For the peak of prayer is prophecy, as written in the Shulchan Aruch in hilchot Tefilah - that one thinks as if the Shechinah (divine presence) is opposite him and that he removes all distracting thoughts and imagine he is above before G-d and on the greatness of the merit to approach G-d and his own human lowliness. The immersion before prayer has very great power to help one reach these levels."

I ascended above

Shaul Sh. told over: "all my life I was somewhat religious. When I started to strengthen more in this, I began to go to the mikveh every day. One day I was very busy and was unable to go. It just happened that on that very day, I went to the Dairy factory of R.Chaim in order to ask him advice on a medical problem. When I approached him, he told me: "every day you are used to going to the mikveh and on this day that you decided to come to me, you did not immerse?"

Shaul was stunned that R.Chaim could see this on him. He proceeded to discuss the medical problem and R.Chaim told him to come back in a day or two and he will answer him. When he returned, R.Chaim told him: "I did an aliyah neshama (ascent of soul to the upper worlds) and I am very sorry to inform you that your problem has no solution. You will need to live with this and to switch medications here and there but nothing of the medical problem will change." As he said, so it happened.

Let her light the Sabbath candles on time

Rabbi Shlomo Batzri told over: one time I came to R.Chaim with a paper for a blessing, on it was written the name of a woman who was unable to find a marriage partner (shiduch). When R.Chaim looked at her name, he said immediately: "tell her to be meticulous on guarding the Sabbath properly and then she will find". I went back to R.Chaim and told him: "she guards the Sabbath". R.Chaim looked again at the paper and said: "tell her that she needs to light the friday night candles on time". This was a wonder for when I told the woman his reply, she said that it is true that sometimes she is late and lights the candles after sunset. From then on, she was careful to light on time and she merited to marry that year.

You Met Him Already

One time a woman who was seeking to get married for a long time came to R.Chaim. But R.Chaim told her that she already met the man for her a few times but she refused each time the shidduch (matchup) and now there is nothing left to do.. But the woman did not let up and requested from R.Chaim to help her. He thought for a few seconds and told her: "a few months from now, on such and such a date, you will travel to Haifa by train and with G-d's help you will find your shidduch there."

When the day arrived, she travelled towards Haifa by train and in the middle of the journey, a woman approached her and proposed to her a shidduch. It was a certain man who had just divorced his wife since she had psychological problems... The girl heard the name of the man and indeed it was the man she had met several times and refused every time.. When the two met again, and received the approval of Rabeinu, they married.




for more on Mikveh see the book "Waters of Eden" by R.Aryeh Kaplan (must read)

see also this chabad article



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