From faraway Yemen, a young boy made the arduous
journey to his dream — Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh.
Upon entering the Old City, his soul was drawn to the
famed yeshiva Beth-E-l, the renowned academy where the
greatest kabbalists studied the esoteric secrets of the
At his young age, Shalom Mizrachi Sharabi knew he would
not be readily accepted into this group, all of whom
were many years his senior and who had first thoroughly
learned the Toras Hanigleh and only then were
deemed worthy of spending their days and nights delving
into the secrets of Hashem.
So he decided to try to join the yeshiva as its
shamash, a caretaker of sorts, to serve the
lomdim and prepare the benches and tables.
Inside, he could listen to the shiurim. He did
not mind being anonymous, since he could thus even
better devote his time and energy to avodas
He approached the great rosh yeshiva, HaRav
Hakodosh R' Gedaliah Chiyun zt"l and asked if he
could work as a caretaker in exchange for room and
board. Rabbi Gedaliah agreed.
Rabbi Shalom carried out his menial tasks faithfully,
rousing the talmidim at midnight for Tikkun
Chatzos, serving them warm drinks and tidying the
seforim so that all was in order for the
shiur. For most of the day, he was free to sit
quietly in his corner of the beis medrash,
listening to the deep shiurim and learning,
together with the talmidim. It never occurred to
anyone there that the young shamash even
understood any of what was being studied.
Rabbi Shalom's life was a virtual Gan Eden for
him. Sitting in this study hall permeated with holiness
he could learn, absorb and plumb the depths of the
Torah's secrets and grow — all in the guise of a
simple caretaker. He was prepared, and indeed it was
his ardent wish, to continue this way all his life.
However, it was ordained from Heaven that this precious
jewel not remain hidden. The world needed to benefit
from its dazzling beauty.
It happened at times that the chachomim of the
yeshiva would remain locked in a difficulty in
chochmas HaNistar without finding the solution.
The first time this happened in the presence of the new
young shamash, he watched their toiling and their
anguish at not comprehending. Sitting in his corner,
Rabbi Shalom's mind worked tirelessly, coming to a
clear answer and conclusion to the problem that was
bothering the chachomim already a number of days.
With a great degree of self-control, Rabbi Sholom
refrained from revealing the answer, knowing that with
it his ruse would be uncovered. Seeing, however, the
Rosh Hayeshiva, the elderly Chacham Rabbi
Gedaliah, looking so mournful and troubled, he could
contain himself no longer.
At night, while all were asleep, he wrote the
teirutz on a small paper, which he slipped
between the pages of Rabbi Gedaliah's sefer.
Following Tikkun Chatzos, the talmidim sat
down to learn with their Rosh Yeshiva. The latter,
opening his sefer, found the small paper with its
wondrous answer. His eyes lit up in pure joy as he
shared the explanation with his students and all of
them were elated that the gates of wisdom had been
opened for them.
Immediately Rabbi Gedaliah insisted and commanded his
talmidim that the writer of the note step
forward. However, his comment was extended to his
talmidim only, obviously excluding this boy in
the corner who hid his secret.
The pattern repeated itself several times, with the
difficulty in learning, the despondency and then the
mysterious note with the enlightening solution.
Some of the talmidim sought to discover the
writer's identity, but to no avail. Never did it occur
to them to suspect their shamash. Rabbi Shalom
kept his secret by writing the notes only when he was
certain that all of the yeshiva's students were sound
One day, however, Rabbi Gedaliah's daughter reported to
him in jest that perhaps the shamash who worked
in Beth E-l knows how to learn, for she once saw him
removing a sefer of her father's and inserting a
In bewilderment, Rabbi Gedaliah ran to the young boy
and sternly commanded him to disclose the secret of the
mysterious note-writer. Having no choice, Rabbi Shalom
admitted his deed, but begged R' Gedaliah not to pass
the word around. The Rosh Yeshiva of the holy
mekubalim, however, perceived in the incident a
sign from heaven that the time had come for Rabbeinu's
light to shine on the world.
He duly seated him at the head of the table in the
yeshiva and, a few months later, took him as a son-in-
law. Thus he became the husband of the very girl who
had publicized his "sin."
From then on this bright sun shone from the East,
illuminating and warming the Torah world with his rays
of brilliance. Eventually, following the passing of his
father-in-law, Rabbi Sholom Mizrachi Sharabi became
Dean of the Yeshivas Hamekubalim.
Often, just being in the presence of the tzaddik
Rabbi Shalom provided the solution that people came to
him to seek.
A man who had suffered many troubles and tribulations
came to the RaShash (as Rabbi Shalom is known) to ask
for guidance. How could he better his ways so that he
would no longer be subjected to so many sorrows?
The Rabbanit Sharabi bade him be seated until Rabbi
Shalom was available to see him. The man sat down in a
chair and drifted off into a fitful sleep. He dreamt he
was walking alone along a desolate path, when suddenly
there sped past him a beautiful white carriage. This
was followed by another one like it, all heading in the
As he watched, wide-eyed, the man saw a black carriage
from the distance looming over the horizon. One after
the other, the gloomy black wagons thundered past. Our
friend began running after the carriages, desperate to
see where their destination was. He followed them until
they and he came to a large open square, which he
understood to be the heavenly court.
The white carriages were full of mal'ochim
created by mitzvos and virtuous deeds. Of these some
were strong and healthy mal'ochim, having been
created by mitzvos done meticulously, joyfully, and
according to halochoh. Others were sorry-looking
and shriveled, having been created by mitzvos done
by rote or only half-done.
Inspecting the black carriages, the man saw a similar
idea in the opposite context.
Black mal'ochim of varying conditions, created by
aveiros, done either with full intentions or
unintentionally, by force or in glee.
All at once, a large pair of scales appeared. The
mal'ochim were piled onto the scale in
preparation for the court case. "Who is being judged
here?" the man asked curiously.
"Why, it's you yourself," came the reply.
A cold sweat broke over him, as he was now transformed
from casual observer into defendant in this
increasingly frightening scene. A choking sensation
gripped him, as he watched the evil prosecuting angels
tipping the scales in their favor, outweighing the
defending ones by far.
"Are there are any more mal'ochim?" a mighty
voice called out. None came forward. The announcement
was then made to add to the scale any yissurim —
pains and troubles the defendant had suffered during
his lifetime — to the side of the merits.
With a sigh of relief, the man felt his color return,
as wagonloads of yissurim began to role up. They
were duly placed on the white side of the scales, which
slowly began to descend, for yissurim atone for a
As the most recent of his tzoros was hoisted upon
the scales, however, the man saw that he was still not
safe. With all his troubles, it was still tipped on the
side of the black mal'ochim, dooming him, it
In desperation, the man began shouting, "More
yissurim. I want more yissurim, just bring
me some more . . . " and then awoke, startled by his
own hysterical shouting.
"Did something happen?" inquired the Rabbanit gently.
"The Rabbi is ready to see you now."
"It's OK," stammered the man, rising shakily to his
feet. "I . . . I think I have the answer already, just
by being in the holiness of his home."
On the Pesach preceding his petiroh, during
achilas matzoh, Rabbi Shalom remained absorbed in
his lofty thoughts and kavonos for a long time.
When the Seder was over, he quietly informed his family
that this coming year would be his last.
The following 10th Shevat, Rabbi Shalom Mizrachi
Sharabi wrapped himself in his tallis as usual.
Then, while he was concentrating on the holy
sheimos and yichudim, his holy soul left
its earthly shell. Before breathing his last breath,
Rabbi Shalom promised those surrounding him that anyone
who davens in the correct way at his kever
will surely be answered.
Zechuso Yogen Aleinu