HE DESERVES IT!
January 14, 2014
Avremele Rainitz in #911, Profile

It was recently Baba Sali’s thirtieth yahrtzait. Beis Moshiach spoke with R’ Shlomo Weitzman who was close with the tzaddik in Netivot. He had fascinating things to say about the special relationship and great admiration that Baba Sali had for the Rebbe MH”M. 

At two important junctures of his life, R’ Shlomo Weitzman merited to see divine providence openly leading him. The first time was when he moved from Morocco to Eretz Yisroel in 5722 and he managed to convince the Israeli officials to send him to Kfar Chabad. He knew Chabad Chassidim from Morocco and back there, he had asked his mother to send him to the Chabad yeshiva in Agadir. But his mother was afraid to send her only child to a dormitory in a distant yeshiva.


Now, when he arrived in Eretz Yisroel, his request was granted and he was sent to Kfar Chabad. At first he learned in the vocational school. After a short while he switched to Tomchei T’mimim. Thanks to him, the rest of his family was brought close to Chabad.

The second time was when he married his wife Simcha whose parents were close to the Baba Sali. They became part of the tzaddik of Netivot’s inner circle and were witness to his special relationship with Chabad and the Rebbe. Baba Sali was fond of R’ Shlomo and on a certain occasion even called him, “the trusted one of my home.”

R’ Shlomo shared the following gems that he remembers about the Baba Sali and the Rebbe:

COMPLETE PERFECTION

I once went to the mikva very early in the morning. When I went in, I met the attendant of Baba Sali, R’ Eliyahu Alfasi, who is a relative of mine, who was just coming out. When he saw me he said, “I have a special story for you.”

R’ Alfasi told me that he saw the book, HaRebbe – Thirty Years of his Nesius in Baba Sali’s house. The book contains pictures of the Rebbe and articles about him. It may have been R’ Yashar Edery who brought the book to the rav’s house. In any case, he took the book and went to the Baba Sali and said – half asking, half stating – “They say he is Moshiach.” 

Baba Sali responded in Arabic, “He deserves it all; it befits him.” Then he added, “The Rebbe is perfection in all and encompasses all.”

I heard all this myself from R’ Alfasi who attended Litvishe yeshivos in his youth. He was very amazed by the Baba Sali’s answer.

SENDING A PIDYON NEFESH TO THE REBBE

My wife had attended Bais Yaakov schools growing up and when she accepted the offer of working at the Chabad school in Brosh, she did not know whether it would work out well. At that time, her parents were very close to Baba Sali’s household and she had occasion to discuss the matter with Rebbetzin Simi, Baba Sali’s wife. When the Rebbetzin heard her doubts she firmly said, “You should know that my husband the tzaddik sends the Rebbe of Chabad a pidyon nefesh every year and the Rebbe answers him. If you have an offer to work in a Chabad school, you don’t need to second-guess it.”

By the way, as members of the household, we were able to see how every time someone came with regards from the Rebbe’s court, Baba Sali would say l’chaim and take an interest in every detail they said about the Rebbe.

MIVTZA NESHEK WITH BABA SALI’S DAUGHTER

It is known that when the Rebbe started the Shabbos candles campaign, Baba Sali signed on the holy proclamation in support of encouraging girls to light Shabbos candles.

Baba Sali sent his daughter Esther on Mivtza Neshek. On Fridays, she made house calls with my wife Simcha and they suggested that girls light Shabbos candles. Naturally, with the power of the Rebbe’s enactment along with Baba Sali’s brachos, nobody refused!

SPECIAL REGARD FOR THE BAAL HATANYA

Baba Sali greatly esteemed the Chassidic masters. My wife told me that when Baba Sali first began living in Netivot, she went to his house one night and saw that there was a festive atmosphere. The table was set and Baba Sali was dressed in white, festive clothing. My wife wondered about this and asked the rebbetzin what was going on.

The rebbetzin gave her a look and said: You are asking about what is special about tonight?! Tonight is 24 Teves, the yom hilula of the Alter Rebbe, the author of Tanya and Shulchan Aruch. Baba Sali presides over a big hilula every year!

On another occasion, the rebbetzin Esther Edery, Baba Sali’s daughter, told her that when she was young, her father gave her a small book and told her to read a little bit of it every day. That was the holy Tanya.

Over the years, my wife arranged a shiur in Chassidus at Baba Sali’s house and women-mekuravos would come and attend the shiur. After the shiur, the women would stand outside Baba Sali’s room and he would bless them.

HELPING CHABAD IN NETIVOT

Chabad mosdos in Netivot were founded due to an “arousal from above,” following the Rebbe’s instruction to my wife in yechidus. In Adar 5739, my wife went to 770 with our oldest son and had yechidus for six minutes. The Rebbe tested our son in kria and then asked my wife: Where does he learn?

My wife said he learns in the mechina program of Yeshivat HaNegev, a Litvishe institution. The Rebbe asked: What about the children in that location?!

My wife had nothing to say so she kept quiet. The Rebbe said: You must open a school for the children and this boy will learn with them!

The Rebbe went on to say: As for the opponents, find friends who will explain that this is a matter of Yagdil Torah v’yaadir (making the Torah great and glorious).

When my wife returned and told me about the yechidus, we told R’ Yashar Edery about it and immediately after Pesach, R’ Edery started a Chabad learning program for the afternoon. By the following school year, he had already opened the Chabad elementary school, which after the passing of Baba Sali was named “Mosdos Beis Yisroel.”

As the Rebbe anticipated, there was much opposition on the part of Litvishe groups who were the majority in Netivot. Then Baba Sali tipped the scale in our favor when he came a few times to visit the new school and to encourage the students and teachers in the face of the opposition.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHASSAN

Being household members of Baba Sali, we were also privileged to be the shadchanim for his daughter Esther with Yashar Edery. This is what happened:

When Rebbetzin Esther came of age, many suggestions came in from families that wanted to be mechutanim with the tzaddik from Netivot. One day, Rebbetzin Simi called my wife and said: Your husband is like a son to me. I would like you to look for a good shidduch for our daughter Esther.

As Chabad Chassidim, we looked for a Chassidishe bachur who had gone to Yeshivos Tomchei T’mimim. In those days, not all homes had telephones and communication between people was conducted via mail. I sent a letter to R’ Meir Tzvi Gruzman, one of the roshei yeshiva in Tomchei T’mimim in Kfar Chabad and asked him to select a serious bachur with special qualities who would be suitable for the daughter of Baba Sali.

R’ Gruzman said he had just the right bachur, Yashar Edery, who like his name was yashar/straight and beloved to G-d and to man. I was pleased with his suggestion for I knew the Edery family and Yashar himself from when I attended the vocational school. I knew he came from a truly quality family. R’ Edery was also pleased with the suggestion and the shidduch got underway.

When we went to Baba Sali, he had only one question: What derech does he follow – does he learn in a yeshiva associated with the Baal Shem Tov?

When I said yes, Baba Sali asked me how many years I knew him and when I told him my good impressions of the family, he was in favor of the shidduch.

R’ Yashar Edery’s family went to Netivot to meet Baba Sali’s family. Before they entered the house my wife told Yashar’s mother that Baba Sali avoided looking at women. She did not understand this and said she wanted to see the father of the girl, and anyway, the Rebbe received women for yechidus!

When we entered the house, my wife repeated this to Rebbetzin Simi and she said: Can I tell a tzaddik what to do?

When the families came in, the men sat in one room and the women in a separate room. Baba Sali suddenly got up and stood in the doorway between the two rooms. R’ Yashar’s mother quickly went over to him and began discussing the shidduch with him. To everyone’s surprise, Baba Sali spoke to her for a few minutes. We were witness to his ruach ha’kodesh. He knew that it bothered her so much that he accommodated her despite his usual practice.

But the amazing part took place later. After the families discussed all the details and it looked as though the shidduch would be finalized, Baba Sali got up suddenly and without saying a word he went to sleep. His wife had no idea what happened. She asked whether he had said anything before he left, but nobody had heard a word from him. He had simply gone to sleep. Of course, without him the shidduch could not be finalized.

It was only a few days later, when the Rebbe’s positive answer arrived in the mail, that Baba Sali announced that he also agreed to the shidduch. That is when they realized that the tzaddik first wanted to receive the Rebbe’s bracha!

When Yashar and his wife had a son, he went to Baba Sali to consult with him about the baby’s name. Baba Sali was resting at the time and he suddenly woke up and said: Call him Yosef Yitzchok. 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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