Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi was one of the greatest Kabbalists of

his time, known for his extreme humility and patience. Not only he

was well-versed in all of Kabbalah, but also in all of Halacha and

Talmud. Born in Yemen in the city of Shar’ab, he faced great pressure

to sustain himself and his family from an early age, teaching Halachot

to young children.

He began studying with his grandfather already at an early age

and then with the great Kabbalist Rabbi Chaim Sanwane when he

was nine. This latter encounter happened when Mordechai Sharabi

was already an orphan, travelling along villages to bring Torah to

Jews. Rabbi Chaim saw the boy using one hand to steer the animal he

was riding on and reading a book with the other. After proposing that

Mordechai join him the two set on to learn together. In no time, Rabbi

Mordechai’s fame spread as everyone recognized his great talents for

Torah.

Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi is a descendant of the legendary

Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash), and founded the Yeshivat

HaMekubalim Nahar Shalom in the neighborhood of Nachlaot. There,

students study the Kavanot and Kabbalah of the Rashash and many

great Tzadikim were formed there.

It is told that Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi never demanded money

to pray for someone, but accepted donations. This is actually one of

the ways to determine whether someone is a real Kabbalist or not;

Fakers don’t have enough emunah that, no matter what happens,

Hashem will provide for them. Therefore they demand payment from

people who consult with them, for whatever matter. Real Kabbalists


known that the source of sustance is only One and it can flow through

whichever person He wills it. They know with certainty that the

guardian of Israel never falters.

One famous story tells of a certain young irreligious man that

decided to provoke Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi. On Shabbat, this man

drove his motorcicle recklessly and honked loudly. The people with

Rabbi Mordechai were angered by his behavior, but the sage said

simply “It’s not his fault, but his motorcicle’s”. Surprisingly, after they

left, the motorcycle couldn’t start! One of the students came to the

man and told him the motorcycle wouldn’t start because he had

slighted Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi. The man was saddened but went

to ask for forgiveness. Instead of dispensing harsh words, the Rabbi

invited the man to eat the Shabbat meal, pray Mincha and stay until

Havdalah with him. He treated him with utmost kindness. “There’s

something you need to know”, he said. “Your motorcycle will now

keep Shabbat!”. So it happened that on the next Shabbat, the

motorcycle wouldn’t start! Slowly, the young man was drawn to

Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi’s generosity and compassion, learned

Torah from him and did full teshuva.

As we know, whenever Creation is filled with Dinim

(Judgments), there is Divine anger and harsh decrees. This happens

either because of the natural passing of time such as during the

month of Av or when there are too many sins and less Torah, Mitzvot,

Teshuva and Tefillah in the world. The accusing angel Samech Tet

(whose name we don’t mention in full) then uses the opportunity to

accuse the world before the Creator and bring havoc. It turns out

that, when that happens, someone has to “pay the bill”. And our sages

teach us that the Pera’on (claiming of debt) starts from the


Tzaddikim, goes on to the children that study Torah and finally to the

rest of the world. This is because, in Hashem’s system of justice,

whenever there are sins unaccounted for, Creation has to be

punished and this is done by diminishing the generation’s spiritual

status.

Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi’s death served as atonement for the

Jewish People as the following story testifies.

Once, the Baba Sali said to the people around him “I see a very

bad decree is about to be executed, and much Jewish blood will be

spilled”. Though he was over 90 years old, the Baba Sali fasted and

prayed. The people were scared and joined him in pleading to

Hashem to avert the decree. Everyone knew that the Baba Sali was

not simply exaggerating things, his every word was measured.

“Baruch Hashem,” he said the next morning. “The decree was

rescinded. One of the Tzaddikim gave his life to end it.” Many thought

that it was the Baba Sali that gave his life for the generation. The

Baba Sali asked people to inquire which of the Tzaddikim was sick as

he didn’t know who was the one and, the next day, Rabbi Mordechai

Sharabi suffered a heart attack. Rabbi Yosef Dayan, came to the Baba

Sali and asked him to pray for Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi, but it was

too late. The Baba Sali explained he tried everything, but Heaven was

not accepting his prayers and the next day Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi

returned his soul to the Creator.

While he was married for more than 50 years with a wife, and

had no children, he nevertheless accepted this ordeal with love.

Later, when she passed away, Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi married a

younger woman who gave birth for one son. This mysterious boy


who’s known only to a few people, used to listen to his father’s Torah

while he was bedridden.

Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi passed away when his son was only 5

years old, in the year 1984 and is buried in Har HaMenuchot,

Jerusalem. His student Rabbi Benayahu Shmueli serves as Rosh

Yeshiva of Nahar Shalom in his stead.

May the merits of the Tzaddik protect us and his memory be a

blessing!



Conversion to Judaism is a very heated topic because many

complexities and sensitivities are involved. Unfortunately, even

nowadays there is much prejudice against those that bravely choose

to take refuge under the wings of the Shechina. Yet, converts possess

tremendous gifts that some do not appreciate.

Not only the Torah, but also the Zohar gives a stern warning for

people not to harm converts. One basic reason we can find is that

converts are usually downthrodden having very few people (if any)

to rely upon. And Hashem’s presence is truly strong with those that

are suffering, lost and broken.

On the Kabbalistic side, converts often host the souls of

Tzaddikim as a perfect Merkavah (chariot). Indeed, in Sha’ar

HaGilgulim (Gates of Reincarnations, 4:5), the Arizal teaches that if a

Tzaddik merits to rectify his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama and then

blemishes them, they cannot come back together, but in different

times. The Nefesh can come back in a body, but the Ruach cannot

come to vest itself in an already rectified Nefesh (it needs to pass

away again). Therefore, one solution is for the Ruach and Neshama of

the Tzaddik to reincarnate with the Nefesh of a convert. Through this

arrangement, both sides are rectified.

Some converts have sadly had a very tough time becoming a part of a

community. Many have been rejected on grounds that their emunah

is less than perfect, or that they have not really converted. It pays to

remember that there’s a special Mitzvah not to oppress the convert

and one to also love him. If someone undergoes the conversion


process and is pronounced a Jew by 2 valid witnesses, then he’s

100% a Jew in all regards. The sages admonishes heavily someone

who reminds the convert of “his old ways”, and in Bava Metzia 59b

they write that there are no less than 36 Mitzvot obligating us have

have sterling behavior towards converts (another opinion says it’s

46!).

The truth is that all converts in fact have a Jewish spark. It’s

just that, with the sin of Adam HaRishon, many souls fell in the

domain of the Sitra Achra and were reincarnated outside the Jewish

People. Nevertheless, Chassidic philosophy teaches us this was in fact

done because only these strong souls could elevate these sparks

outside the camp of Israel.

But, what is the real benefit of having the soul of a Tzaddik

coming to a convert? As it turns out there’s a fantastic consequence

to becoming a Merkava to a Tzaddik and that is, when the Nefesh of

the convert leaves the body it can actually be drawn to the Ruach of

the Tzaddik into the Olam HaBa and receive the same portion as him!

This shows a little bit of how much Hashem, who created such a

fantastic system, values the efforts of a convert.

A story is told of a certain holy and righteous convert, Avraham

ben Avraham, from the generation of the holy Vilna Gaon. The story

has a few versions but they all agree on the main points. Originally

known as Count Valentine Potoky, Avraham abandoned Catholicism

and became a true Torah scholar. It seems like his family had some

respect for Jews, which was uncommon for nobles at that time. For

his former noble family, Valentine was a traitor and they tried to

persuade him to abandon his Jewish ways and go back to his faith.


After they failed, Avraham was sentenced to death by burning at a

stake in Vilna.

His emunah was so strong the Vilna Gaon himself offered to

save him using Practical Kabbalah, but the offer was recused.

Avraham wanted to die Al Kiddush Hashem. Even while his mother

begged him to go back to his roots, Avraham replied “I love you, but I

love the truth even more”. While in prison, a certain dialogue is

related between him and the Vilna Gaon. Avraham lamented he had

no ancestral merits to save him in the after life. Yet, the Vilna Gaon

conforted him by saying that it was not true. While other people have

their family genealogy, the convert can count on Hashem to secure

him merits. Just as Hashem has no parents, so too the converts have

no parents and trace their lineage directly to the Creator.

Other notable converts who rose to greatness include: Batya,

the daughter of Par’oh (one of the few in history who rose to heaven

alive, like Eliyahu HaNavi), Moshe Rabbenu’s father-in-law Yitro who

had the Neshama of Cain, Rahav the Cana’anite innkeeper who

married Yehoshua Bin Nun and was the ancestor of 8 prophets, Ruth

who is the ancestor of King David and Mashiach, the prophet

Ovadiyah who saved 100 prophets by hiding them in a cave, Shemaya

and Avtalyon, two great Tannaic sages and many others.

May we only have admiration for these noble souls that join the

Jewish People despite all challenges.



The world of Kabbalah is shrouded in secrecy. Those that seek

to climb the rungs of divine service and perfect it know that the more

one reveals, the more one loses. That’s why it’s often difficult to write

about big Kabbalists (Mekubalim). They barely reveal anything about

themselves and our limited eyes cannot comprehend the depth of

their thoughts and devotions. Nevertheless, they are the ones making

open miracles and bringing salvations.

Few Kabbalists can compare to Rav Yitzchak Kaduri.

Nicknamed the Zaken HaMekubalim (The Elder of the Kabbalists) for

his wisdom and piety, Rav Kaduri was one of the last few, well-versed

in the arts of miracles and amulets.

As customary of all Sephardi Mekubalim, Rav Kaduri practiced

the Kavanot of the Rashash. He was known for curing ilnesses and

infertility through his blessings and amulets which were very sought

after. While he published no books, a single edition of his writings

were published after his passing, which some estimate happened

when he was over 110 years old.

Born in Baghdad around 1902, he received a blessing for long

life from the Ben Ish Chai himself and even kept one of his belts

throughout his life. His funeral hosted over half a million followers

one of the largest in the history of modern Israel.

While young he studied under the Ben Ish Chai and Rav Yehuda

Fetayah, and many already perceived he was destined for greatness.

He posessed incredible photographic memory and worked as a

bookbinder, making sure to memorise the book he was binding

before returning it to the owner.


Rav Kaduri moved to the old city with his family around 1934

and began his bookbinding job for the Yeshivat Porat Yosef. This gave

him the opportunity to study the books and amass a large knowledge

of all the Talmud, including Rashi and Tosfot, as well as Kabbalistic

works.

The custom of the Mekubalim have always been to live a life of

poverty and simplicity. This was done in order to minimize the

weight of physicality in order to receive the spiritual flow. Rav Kaduri

was known to fast frequently, speak very little, and also to visit the

graves of tzaddikim.

It’s often amazing to see the degree of detachment to reality

many Mekubalim have. To their credit, their lack of knowledge in

mundane things we often consider basic are a testament of their

great level.

In a few occasions, Rav Kaduri travelled to give shiurim

(classes) on Kabbalah. Once he was going to Tzfat in a car driven by

one of his attendents. The class was scheduled to start in about 15

minutes, but the car at that time couldn’t go faster. There was still a

long way to go and Rav Kaduri asked him “Can’t we go faster? We are

going to be late!”. The attendant replied “Believe me Rabbi, I’m going

as fast as I can! Can’t you teleport us there?”. As we know, Rav Chaim

Vital wrote in Sefer HaChezionot (Book of Visions), he once saved his

own life using one of the divine names and teleported himself from

Jerusalem to Damascus. These techniques were known to only a few

select individuals and carried great risks for using.

“I don’t make use of that for these occasions”, came the reply.

Without thinking twice, Rav Kaduri took the attendant’s hand, put it

on the gear stick and cried “quick, let’s mix the gas more!”. To

everyone’s astonishment, the car actually began going faster!

Someone once asked him after this episode whether Rav

Kaduri used to “bind angels by oaths”. This is also one of the very

dangerous Kabbalistic techniques to have them do one’s bidding. The

problem is that while they may end up doing a person’s will, they

inevitably come back for revenge for having used them for petty

purposes. One needs to be on a really high level to bind an angel by

an oath and even so do it entirely L’Shem Shamayim (for Divine

purposes). To this question, Rav Kaduri replied “I don’t, but the

angels see that I’m an old man and just end up helping me without

me asking”.

The following story can give us a glimpse of his legendary

Tzaddikut (righteousness). Once Rav Kaduri was engaged in writing

an amulet. For those that don’t know, real amulets are also incredibly

risky for the writer, and demand tremendous Fear of Heaven and

fasting to atone for making them. Not only that, but they require a

few days of fasting while writing to complete them.

While engaged in it, his wife Dorit called him for lunch, which

mostly consisted of the Bamba snack. Rav Kaduri was so

concentrated that he didn’t respond, making his wife call him again a

few times. When she came close to him, she accidentally tripped the

ink container on his table, and the amulet was completely sullied

with black ink. Days of prayer and fasting supposedly went to waste.

Instead of getting angry at her, Rav Kaduri simply smiled and said

“Ah, my dear wife, you always know what’s best. Thank you very

much!”.


Rav Kaduri has also been closely monitoring the Geulah

(Redemption) process unfold. Once a student asked him for a signal

that Mashiach was close to revealing himself. The answered

surprised everyone: “When there will be elections, but after the

elections they won’t be able to form a government. This is the clear

sign of the time of the Geula!”

No one knew how to explain that cryptic statement, but

nowadays we see that we had 3 elections in 2 years and still have no

formed government!

May we get inspiration from the great Zaken HaMekubalim in

our divine service and follow his path in Avodat Hashem, with

simplicity and patience.

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