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7 Adar 5775 - February 26, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Sparks of Greatness
Hamekubal HaRav Emanuel Chai Rikki zt"l, Hy"d, author of Mishnas Chassidim

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 1 Adar 5503

In his sefer Hon Ashir on Mishnayos he writes: "Do not be astonished to see in this sefer that I mention Eliyohu Hanovi numerous times, for Hashem gave me the merit of seeing him when I authored the sefer Maaseh Choshev, and I asked of him to explain to me one expression of the Zohar."

As to the name of his sefer, Hon Ashir, this was not its originally intended name. Rabbi Emanuel related that he had planned to call the sefer Dikdukei Aniyus, since it talks about learning Torah in poverty as he himself did — until a harrowing ordeal and miraculous escape changed everything

Rabbi Chai Rikki was traveling on a ship on the high seas together with many businessmen. Out of the blue, calm sea, a pirate ship seemed to appear from nowhere. Its wild occupants stormed the passenger ship, taking everyone captive.

"After forty days, bechasdei Hashem, I managed to escape their tight grip, unlike my fellow travelers who remained in captivity."

To commemorate the nes, he called the name of his new sefer Hon Ashir. Even though he was left with no material possessions, he still had his real wealth: his Torah which was far more precious than gold or silver.


The Chidoh zt"l, writes about Rabbi Emanuel, " . . . and I heard that Rabbi Emanuel zt"l spent all the weekdays of twenty-two years in total fasting. He practiced chassidus and had an extraordinary kedushoh."

As for his power in toras hanistar, the mekubalim wrote of Rabbi Emanuel Chai Rikki:

"Anyone who is accustomed to learning in the holy sefer Mishnas Chassidim can appreciate his immense wisdom, (since) with his sublime language he answers questions and explains concealed secrets."

In fact, Rabbi David Major, the talmid of the Rashash (Reb Shalom Sharabi), would keep the sefer Mishnas Chassidim with him at all times as a sort of kemaya. It was said that he learned the sefer twenty-five times!


Rabbi Emanuel Chai Rikki often taught that emunoh peshutoh of simple Jews is valued highly in Heaven.

In his sefer Mishnas Chachomim he related a wonderful story that took place in the days of the Arizal to bring out this point.

A Spanish Marrano who had come to Eretz Yisroel and settled in Tzfas once heard a warm droshoh from a local rov. The latter discussed the Lechem Haponim that were made for the Beis Hamikdosh, describing the nachas ruach that Hashem had. From this pleasure a bountiful brochoh descended on the world.

With a deep sigh, the rov concluded, "To our sorrow, and due to our many sins, we are left today bereft; bereft of the Beis Hamikdosh and ultimately Hashem is left bereft of the nachas ruach."

The Marrano had never learned Torah and was a total am ho'oretz, but his heart burned with a fiery emunoh and love for Hashem. He had, after all, risked his very life so as not to give up his faith.

After repeating the moving speech he had heard to his wife at home, they came to a decision: Every Friday, the woman would bake two loaves of bread made of the finest flour that would be sifted thirteen times. She would knead and bake the bread only with the purest of thoughts, and then her husband would bring them to the Beis Haknesses before Shabbos. Perhaps Hashem would accept their offering and it would cause nachas ruach to the Shechinah.

That Friday afternoon all was done. Tremblingly, the Marrano entered the shul, the two freshly baked loaves in his hands. He approach the Aron Hakodesh where he poured out his heart in tefilloh to Hashem that his offering be accepted.

Gently he laid the loaves down next to the Aron Hakodesh and left.

Shabbos was coming and the shamash of the shul came a little early for minchah, just to check that all was in order. Seeing two freshly baked loaves, he delightedly took them home lechovod Shabbos.

When the Marrano came for davening, he noticed that his loaves were no longer there. Apparently Heaven had accepted their minchah.

He could hardly wait till after davening to report to his pious wife.

From then on, every Friday the scene repeated itself. The two loaves baked in holiness and purity would be taken to the shul with heartfelt prayers that they be accepted on High, the shamash would take his two challos before minchah, and at Kabbolas Shabbos the Marrano delighted in the fact that he had caused Hashem a nachas ruach.

One such Friday, the simple Jew entered the shul as usual with his loaves unaware that the Rov, who was due to give a droshoh in the shul that Shabbos, was sitting there at the time.

With great enthusiasm at being able to do the rotzon Hashem, he placed the challos down. Observing from the side, the Rov watched in consternation as a Jew brought what he imagined was a korbon to Hashem.

"Shoteh — fool," he called out sharply. "Do you think Hashem eats your challos? It is close to kefirah to think such things of Hashem. Most probably the shamash took them and ate them every week."

During the Rov's tirade, the shamash entered. The Rov called him over, demanding to know what had happened every week to the two challos.

"I imagined that some generous person wanted to secretly give me challos every week, so I gladly took them home."

The simple Marrano was heartbroken. His whole world came crashing down as he was told that not only had he not fulfilled a mitzvah, but perhaps had even transgressed an aveiroh.

His wife too was shattered, and the two of them could find no solace.

That same erev Shabbos, the Rov was visited by a messenger of the Arizal.

"Go home," the shaliach advised, "For tomorrow instead of giving a droshoh, you will pass away."

The Rov blanched at the shocking message.

"Ask the Ari," he pleaded hoarsely, "what sin I have committed to deserve an untimely death."

The answer from the Ari was, "You took away the nachas ruach of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. You should know that from the day of the Beis Hamikdosh's destruction the Shechinah never knew such joy as it experienced when that simple Jew brought his challos with a temimus and thought Hashem had accepted his offering berotzon.

"Therefore, this terrible punishment will befall you."

The next day, the town was shocked to hear of the sudden death of the Rov who had been scheduled to give a droshoh that very day.


When Rabbenu was fifty-five, he traveled to Italy to collect money for the yeshiva Chaveirim Makshivim.

After he had collected a considerable amount, he was on his way home through Medina when he was stopped by a gang who stole his money.

Seeing that he was a saintly person, they decided to try to force him to eat treif foods. Rabbeinu obstinately refused, resisting until they murdered him.

The murderers buried him on the banks of a nearby river.

However, local Jews who heard of the gruesome death of such a tzaddik begged the ruler for permission to give him a Jewish burial. His body was brought to Ginten, where a large hesped took place and he was buried honorably.


Rabbeinu's son writes that many years later a paper was found written in 5500 in his father's handwriting. It stated that it had been revealed to Rabbeinu from Heaven that he was the neshomoh of Rabbi Yehuda ben Bovo, one of the Asoroh Harugei Malchus who was Makadesh Shem Shomayim with his death.

Zechuso Yogein Oleinu.


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