Showing posts with label Bava Sali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bava Sali. Show all posts


Every mortal is born with a equal measure of good and evil.

The Ancient Greeks in order to gain allies when Xerxes was coming to invade  sent to potential allies this idea. They said, "Every mortal is born with a equal measure of good and evil. No exceptions." Thus Xerxes would not, and could not, have unlimited success.
Some people like Bava Sali [Israel Abuchatzeira] in their  own way applied this idea to their own lives.  They said there is a limit to how much good and pleasure they will have so they voluntarily limited it. It is well known that Bava Sali fasted most of his life from Shabat to Shabat.


Bava Sali

David Abuchatzeira was murdered by Muslims on the 14th of Kislev. That is why I thought to write a few words about the Abuchatzeira family. The major thing that was special about this family was their idea of education. They had the basic approach that you would find in any Lithuanian yeshiva straight Gemara and Musar and Poskim. But their way of keeping Torah was significantly simplified..They were not reading too much Dante I should say. At at a certain point they would get into the Ari-Isaac Luria. But that went along with a good deal of fasting.
Let me mention a few things as samples of the events surrounding them. Israel Abuchatzeira once was  one  a bus going going from one town to the next. It go to be time for the afternoon prayer. {Mincha}. He told the person he was with to ask the bus driver to stop the bus so he could get out and pray. The driver laughed at such a ridiculous request.  So the fellow returned to his seat. Then Bava Sali (Israel Abuchatzeira) told him to get ready to get off the bus. Then suddenly the engine broke down. They got off to pray as the bus driver got out to see of he could fix the engine. Bava Sali took his own sweet time to pray as was his custom. After he finished they got back on the bus and he told the person his was with to tell the driver he could start the bus now. The driver  yelled at him and said can't you see I have been trying to start this thing for the last hour? So he returned to his seat. Bava Sali told him to tell the driver to just put the key in the ignition and see what happens. He did so and the bus started with no problem.

One thing you in Bava Sali--is the idea of authentic  Torah. He was not involved with "Tikunim." That is he was not taking any one particular Mitzvah. His was straight learning and keeping Torah. The oral and written law. The פירוש המקובל. That is the explanation of the Written Torah that was received by the sages of the Mishna and Talmud. Things written later are not the oral nor written law. They can at best explain some aspects of the oral or written law but do not override them and when they go off into their own explanation not based on the oral law then they are ספרים חיצוניים-books that the sages say one loses his portion in the  next world by reading them. [That means most so called Torah books today are in fact ספרים חיצוניים]. See the Rif and Rosh there on the mishna in Sanhedrin.

Bava Sali was not a fan of the "great books" education. STEM maybe but not secular education outside of the natural sciences or straight forwards learning a vocation.

Bava Sali

I thought it would be proper to say a few words about David Abuchatzeira, the older brother of Bava Sali. It is after all 14 Kislev on the Jewish Calendar.
The main phenomenon of the Abuchatzeira family was really located in Morroco.. That is where the family lived until the State of Israel was founded.
This family seemed to be blessed with ascetics. That is they would be married but they would be living the kind of life you would associate with a ascetic in other ways. It is hard to explain.
But without going into too much detail let me at least mention that their general path was what you would call straight Torah and Mitzvah. It would be the same thing as you would have in any Lithuanian Yeshiva. The only difference would be that after some member of the family would have gone through Shas a few time they would begin to learn the writings of Isaac Luria and at that point begin to go up in levels of holiness and separation from this world,--but they would still be married.

Though the charlatans called kabalists abound nowadays, still this family was different. They were the real thing. And their powers came from the side of Holiness. {There are plenty of people with powers from the Dark Side, and you need a certain degree of talent to be able to spot them.}

There was a time that you could go anywhere in Israel and just mention the name of Bava Sali and someone would have a story to tell you of how they went to him with some problem and it was magically solved afterwards.

The stories were astounding. And it seemed impossible to say they were all lying or had some agenda.


Almost invariably when I was in Israel and I would just mention the name "Bava Sali", the person I was talking to would launch into a story of how he had some problem in his personal life that could not be solved no matter how much he tried, and then he went to Bava Sali for a blessing and the problem was solved. It mattered little if the person himself was religious or not. Just that they needed as much faith as necessary to make the trip to Netivot. [A city in Southern Israel.]

 But the curious thing about this was that between him and his community there was a kind of equilibrium. He himself was a super "separation from this world" type of guy while his community in Morocco were simple working Jews. [More or less religious.]

I have a few observations to make about the whole Bava Sali thing.
I would like to go into his conception of what Normal Torah observance involves and how applicable it is to other people, or even perhaps to gentiles. Also I would like to go into the question that the whole thing seems to have reached an impasse. There are lost more issues but these seem to me to be the more relevant right now.

First of all it seems to me that Bava Sali gives a good explanation of what Torah is supposed to be about. No shtick. That is no games. To him keeping Torah meant keeping Torah in the most simple basic way possible.  [note 1 ] People will always try to claim that Bava Sali supported their particular cult but this is universally not true if you dig into the actual facts. Straight Torah observance would be what defined the Bava Sali path. No beliefs in any person would be considered important or helpful in any way. Only keeping Torah personally. [note 3]  

On the other hand the Bava Sali thing has lost its momentum. The closest of the people to him Chareidi in way very different from the Sefardi tradition. Some people have used the aura of Bava Sali for gain. [note 2]

In spite of the difficulties of the Bava Sali thing, it still provide a rich domain of information about Torah and what it means to keep Torah simply with no games.


There was something unique about Bava Sali [Israel Abuchatzaira] that that can't be attributed to just the fact of his emphasizing doing Torah and mitzvoth or to his miracles. Miracles we know are a dime a dozen. People in every religion take the miracle workers of that religion to be proofs of that religion. But they are not proof of anything because of several reasons. They can be from the sitra achra. Even when they are from the side of holiness still anyone doing certain kinds of service like fasting and general separation from the pleasures of this world tend to gain some kind of spiritual power. Furthermore miracles happen to everyone and have no bearing on the holiness of any individual

In spite of all this there was something really unusualness about Bava Sali.

What I mean to say by this is I want to bring out the idea that there is an essential contradiction between the idea of human perfection as represented by Bava Sali w and the idea of human perfection as represented by my parents and by Albert Einstein, Newton, and Aristotle.

Now we know outside of the miracles of Bava Sali there was by him a essential emphasis of simple and plain old Shulchan Aruch. Neither for him or for others was there any idea of specific things to emphasize. It was just simple keep Torah. [For the general public reading this blog I think the best idea of how to get an idea of what it means to keep Torah in the ideal sense you should find a sefer hachinuch.]

But There was a very different idea of human perfection as emphasized by people like Einstein.

And in between that were my parents that represented the human n perfection in terms of mentchlichkeit.[untranslatable Yiddish meaning basically human decency].

What I mean to point out here is that each of these paths has pit falls and even actual flaws for most people. But what we can do is to try to focus on certain points that are in each path and try to emulate and stick to these basic points as best we can with Balance and common sense.

I would like to point out that the basic path of Torah and mitzvot is a little subtle.Even with the Rambam writing it simply and bava sali showing a good modern example of how to do it --it still is subtle. The problem as Bava Sali said himself all paths are dangerous. That is one can try to do Torah in the most simple ways that would seem to be obvious and yet find himself in situations in which not just he finds the world that he has placed himself in is predatory but also finds himself doing more objective evil than when he was not trying to keep Torah at all.