Updated: Sep 8, 2020
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
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
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
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!