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8.1.14

Israel Abuchatzeira

Bava Sali [Yisrael Abuchatzeira] did not have any shortcuts to the spiritual realm. Nor did he believe in such things.
His path was as simple as possible: Learn Torah and do God's commandments. [Learning Torah in this context does not include most things people today claim is Torah.  Torah to him meant classical Torah: The Old Testament, the Talmud with the traditional commentaries, the Zohar, writings of Isaac Luria, and the Musar/Ethical works from the Middle Ages.] That is Classical Torah is what he considered to be Authentic Torah. And he was aware of the danger of  fraudulent Torah. All the more so Fraudulent Kabalah.



One interesting point about him was his diet. The most curious thing about his diet was that he did not seem to have one. I was discussing with his daughter once about the importance of having a balanced diet including certain vitamins and minerals. She told me that she did not know about such things, but she knew that when they were living in Morocco, Bava Sali would stay in a tiny attic room for a few weeks at a time and be sitting and learning. She would bring him his meal in the morning and leave it by the small window that led to the attic. When she returned at night the meal was untouched.
In general, laws of nature seemed to be suspended when he was around. I heard from many people their personal problems that were solved once and for all after they went to him.  I forgot most of them. But for sure, I never met a person that went to him that did not have some personal crisis solved. [Everywhere I went in Israel someone had a personal story to tell me about this.] Every person that went to him always had a amazing story to tell me.--everything from healing people, to finding a marriage partner, to the revival of the dead etc. and etc. These are not things that it is very easy to fake.
The fact that Bava Sali is gone definitely created a crisis in Israel. Israel fighter pilots no longer have tzadik (saint) to go to to get a blessing before their missions. Average working Jews no longer have a person to go to to get advice about their personal affairs that they can trust comes from a source of holiness.

 For a few decades already people have gone to any kind of person that seems to have a slight possibility of having something like Bava Sali and are invariably disappointed. The amount of tricksters and fakers is almost infinite. I discussed this problem with the daughter of Bava Sali several  times. Also I was close with Shimon Buso (a grandson of Bava Sali) for several years. He was a Magid Shiur [teacher]  in a in Jerusalem (a branch of Ponovitch) at the time and I was doing my personal kind of kabalistic stuff by Shmuel HaNavi. But when we had time off we would go around Israel on all kinds of interesting kabalist missions. So the subject of the lack of a Bava Sali type of person came up with him also. His general approach is that there is no one to go to today. All one can do is to sit and learn Torah and be the best person one can be and hope for the help of God in ones personal situation.

But Bava Sali could make mistakes. The mistakes mostly have been forgotten. But there was one fellow who was told he would get remarried and it never happened. The failures of Bava Sali were never made public. The miracles I admit were amazing and real. He was after all human. And he made mistakes. And he would have been the first person to say so. When Moshe Buso (his grandson) came to serve him from midnight to dawn (as was the custom for his grandchildren to do) Moshe asked him if he wanted normal ground coffee or Neis Coffee {נס קפה}Instant coffee. But Neis also means miracle in Hebrew. Bava Sali said "no nisim" no miracles. That is he was saying he wanted natural coffee instead of instant coffee, but he put it in such a  way as to suggest he did not want miracles. [Most often he wanted coffee with tea together when he got up for the midnight prayers.] (I should mention midnight prayers are what one says in the middle of the night concerning the Temple that was destroyed in 70 AD). The first part is a few psalms and also the last chapter in the book of Lamentations.   The last part consists of a few more psalms. Altogether it takes about 10 minutes. After that it was his custom to learn Torah until dawn. Once it was completely dark outside and yet he said to Moshe Buso (his grandson) "It is time for the morning prayers." Moshe Buso said he did not understand how that was possible until I showed him how most rishonim/authorities hold the law is like Rabbainu Tam. And that the opinion of Rabbainu Tam applies in the morning just like it does at night.


For the general information I should mention some basic information about Bava Sali. There was a kind of cloud of blessings that followed him. In the morning he would learn Torah but at a certain hour of the day he would open his doors to people that needed a blessing. And what blessings they were! I know people that had all kinds of problems that were solved after they went to him. But most of his life he was known only to a small number or Moroccan Jews. One fellow was a newly religious and had a drivers license. Bava Sali asked him to drive him to Meron. On the way back he wanted to fill the gas tank but Bava Sali said not to bother, and the drove back to Netivot on an empty tank.


In summery: It is good to have a real tzadik around. And it is bad to have fakers. And it is important to be able to tell the difference.

Absent a person like Bava Sali a true Torah scholar is a good option. But in this case also it takes a great deal of perception to be able to tell the difference between the fakers and the real thing. In any case to get a blessing from a real Torah scholar is a very good thing to do. The usual NY rosh yeshiva is in general an authentic Torah scholar--but only if his yeshiva is Lithuanian.


I don't know if there is anyone around who could fill the shoes of Bava Sali. The best one out there is Shimon Buso in Netivot [a grandson of Bava Sali from the side of  Abigail, Bava Sali's daughter.]
There are descendants of David Abuchatzaira, the older brother of Bava Sali, also known as עטרת ראשינו with whom I am impressed with, but they are not public people. Actually neither is Shimon. But still it is worth the time to get a blessing from him.
The whole Buso family I should mention I am impressed with. If that special flow of the ability to bless of Bava Sali went anywhere it is probably to the Buso family. [There is one Moshe Buso in Jerusalem who is I think the oldest son. Still, I think Shimon is the best of the bunch--at least in terms of advice and getting a blessing.]


In any case the descendants of Yaakov Abuchatzaira are around.  And whichever one it is does not seem to matter that much. Any of them are good to go to for a blessing and advice.