Weekly Chasidic Story #676 (s5771-10 / 1 Kislev 5771)

Out and Back

When the Kaf HaChaim was preparing to publish the first volume of his momentous work, he had no idea how to pay for the cost of printing.

Connection: Weekly Reading – Leaving the Land


When Rabbi Yaakov-Chaim Sofer, author of the Kaf HaChaim, was preparing to publish the first volume of his work, he had no idea how to pay for the cost of printing. He had not so much as a penny in his pocket at the time. His friends advised him to travel abroad in order to raise money.

This was a very hard thing for Rabbi Yaakov Chaim to do. He was always begging G-d not to ever force him to leave the Holy Land. But in the end, having no choice, he did go — praying that he would not have to stay away for long.

He set out from Jerusalem to take a train to Alexandria, Egypt [a 300 mile ride after he reached the station in Yafo -ed.]. When he stepped off the train onto the platform, he ran into one of the wealthiest philanthropists of his time, a man by the name of Yosef Somocha.

Mr. Somocha asked, “To what do we owe the honor of this visit?”

Rabbi Yaakov Chaim explained his purpose in coming. The rich man immediately took 200 lira out of his pocket — the cost of printing the first volume.

That same day, Rabbi Yaakov Chaim boarded a train for the return trip home. It was the same train that had brought him to Alexandria.

His friends back in Jerusalem were surprised to see him back so soon. When Rabbi Yaakov Chaim explained the amazing thing that had happened, they protested, “If you were so successful in raising the money, you should have stayed a few days and raised the amount you’ll need for future volumes!”

“No!” Rabbi Yaakov Chaim declared. “I will not remain in a foreign country one minute longer than urgent necessity forces me to stay.”

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Stories My Grandfather Told Me (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald

Connection: Weekly Reading – Leaving the Land

Biographic note:
Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Sofer, (1870 – 9 Sivan 1939) better known as the Kaf Hachaim (the name of the monumental halachic work which he authored), was born in Baghdad. In the beginning of the 20th century he emigrated to the Land of Israel, and settled in Jerusalem.


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.