Weekly Chasidic Story #868 (s5774-46 / 16 Tammuz 5774)

A Timely Gift for the Sultan

The Ohr HaChayim knew of the danger threatening his brethren and wished to avert it, so he hurried to the palace.

Connection: Seasonal–271st yahrzeit of the Ohr HaChayim

If he had his way, the wicked vizier thought to himself countless number of times, there would be no Jews in Morocco. He hated the Jews, but, although he was very powerful, he could do nothing. For the sultan showed favor towards his Jewish subjects and would not let the vizier harm them.

The cruel viceroy bided his time, until finally a fitting opportunity arose. The sultan had decided to travel to the distant provinces of his land, leaving his viceroy in charge of affairs. The vizier prepared a trumped-up charge against the Jews of the capital and incited the Moslem populace to attack the Jewish quarter. The bloodthirsty Arabs did not need much of an excuse.

The sultan had, meanwhile, reached the city of Meknes where Rabbi Chaim ibn-Atarthe Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh (“holy one”), lived. The Ohr HaChaim had become aware from Heaven of the danger threatening his brethren and wished to avert it. He went to the palace where the sultan was staying and asked for an audience. He was refused.

“Tell the king that I have brought him a gift for his birthday, but that I insist on giving it to him personally.”

The sultan, his curiosity aroused, gave instructions for the Jew to be brought before him.

R’ Chaim bowed deferentially and took out a small mirror from his case. “This is my gift to Your Majesty. It is a mirror with special powers. Just look into it, and tell me what you see.”

The sultan gazed into the small looking glass and his eyes grew round with wonder. There was the capital, his palace, his throne — and the vizier was sitting on it as if he were sultan! A heavy scowl suffused his features as he ordered his servants to prepare for his immediate return home.

The sultan arrived just in time to prevent a massacre. In a fit of fury, he slew his rebellious vizier. And the Jews of Morocco breathed freely once more, thanking G-d for the great miracle.

[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from “Tales of Tzaddikim” (ArtScroll) by G. MaTov]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar (1696-15 Tammuz 1743) was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco. In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in Palestine. En route he was detained in Livorno by the rich members of the Jewish community who established a yeshiva for him. He resting place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is the occasion for a large annual pilgrimage on his yahzeit.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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