Monday, June 13, 2016

The rabbi who lived after his death

 The tomb of Rabbi Hai Taieb Lo Met in Tunis


To mark the second day of the festival of Shavuot, here is a story about the great 19th century Tunisian sage, Rabbi Hi Taieb lo Met, abridged from the article on the Harissa website.

Born into a family of rabbis in 1743 (he died in 1837), Rabbi Hai Taieb lo Met  distinguished himself from a young age by his knowledge and intelligence. He was a Talmudic scholar who moved easily into the study of the Zohar.
 
An only son, Rabbi Hai Taieb lived with his mother and spent long hours studying the Talmud and Kabbala. He used to note his comments on sheets hanging all over his room.
 
His mother thought that they served no useful purpose,  or perhaps she feared for the mental health of her son and burned them inadvertently. One work was saved: Helev hitim. From then on, however, the rabbi  began drinking heavily (boukha - Tunisian fig brandy).

Tales and legends abound on the miracles and good works accomplished by this rabbi.
 



 There was a rich merchant in Tunis who used to bring together a minyan (quorum)  to read the "Tikkun Leyl Shavuot". In the morning he would prepare a hearty meal and offered gifts to his guests. The merchant suffered a reversal of fortune and to continue this minhag (custom),  he went off to sell his wife's jewellery. On his way back he met Rabbi Hai Taieb who asked him for money. He could not refuse the rabbi.
 
On returning home, the merchant met an envoy of the Bey who said: "The Bey wants an  expensive china coffee service  to drink coffee with his ministers. It is impossible to find such a service in the market." 
 
The Jew went on his way and  met a merchant who said:"in my storeroom I have a coffee service: I do not know what to do with it, take it at any price. "The merchant then returned to the Bey and sold him the coffee service at an exorbitant price. He again  met Rabbi  Taieb who asked him: "what was better, the amount that you gave me, or the one you received from the Bey?" The rabbi blessed him and ever since the merchant became a very wealthy man.

There are many other stories. Why is he called Rabbi Hai Taieb lo Met? 

When the Rabbi died, the  engraver was about to inscribe his tombstone with the words: "Died in the year..."  The rabbi appeared to him in a dream that night and tried to strangle him. "What have I done to you? "the engraver exclaimed." Why  do you write ' Died' on my tombstone?" said the rabbi." Do you not  know that tzaddikim (wise men) are called alive after their death? " Excuse me, said the engraver. "Only if you add the prefix lo -  not dead, said the rabbi." And the rabbi disappeared from his dream. The correction was of course made the next day.
 
In the Belleville quarter of Paris there is a Tunisian-Jewish synagogue named after Rabbi Hai Taieb lo Met.

Read article in full (French) 

No comments: