Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Light Unto All Nations

Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeira, the “Baba Sali” (1890-1984)

The net of love and respect that Baba Sali wove with his kedusha (holiness) encompassed not only the Moroccan Jews, but the Arabs as well. They, too, came to the Rav for brachot (blessings), and when the Rav would invite everyone to a seudah (banquet), they would also come, sitting at special tables outdoors, hoping to catch a glimpse of the holy man of their city. On the streets, they would make way for him, and bless him as he passed.

On Purim, when the Rav distributed charity to the poor, the Arabs, too, would come to receive money. The money was kept in different pockets, and each person would receive his portion from another pocket. Only the Rav knew which pocket contained the allotment for whom. (Rabbi Eliyahu Alfasi, “Baba Sali: Our Holy Teacher, Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeirah, of Blessed Memory,” trans. Leah Dolinger. Brooklyn, NY: Judaica Press 1985, p. 12)