Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar
Name and place:
“The glimmer of Messiah” was the nickname given to R Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar (Hebrew: ר חיים בן עתר ) by the Baal Shem Tov, because of his unussual greatness. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco, and a Talmudist and kabbalist as well. He was born in 1696, and died on July 31 1743 at the age of 47 and is buried on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.
In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in the Land of Israel, then under the Ottoman Empire. En route he was detained in Livorno by the rich members of the Jewish community who established a yeshiva for him. Realizing the true greatness of his work, many of his disciples later furnished him with funds to print his Ohr ha-Chaim.
One of his disciples there was Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai, who seemed to have been completely overwhelmed by the excellence of his master. He wrote of him: "Attar's heart pulsated with Talmud; he uprooted mountains like a restless torrent; his holiness was that of an angel of the Lord … having severed all connection with the affairs of this world."
Some of his famous works include:
Hefetz Hashem (God's Desire)
Ohr ha-Chaim (The Light of Life)
Peri Toar (Beautiful Fruit)
On the mount of Olives about fifteen meters above the Tomb of the Sons of Hezir. Freely accessible.
Tale of a Tzaddik:
A story is told about a miracle that occurred.
In the city where Rabbi Chaim ben Attar resided, the ruler was in favor of the Jewish people. The ruler was invited to a party in a far city. The ruler had an advisor who hated the Jews. As soon as the ruler left, the advisor stated a big commotion against the Jewish people.
Rabbi Chaim ben Attar, was also invited to the party, and brought with him, as a gesture, a simple mirror, as a present to the ruler.
When the ruler saw the simple mirror he was insulted and angrily asked for the reason of the insulting present.
Rabbi Chaim ben Attar explained that this is not a simple mirror, and that with this mirror he will be able to see anything around his kingdom.
The ruler asked, with disbelief, if he could see his castle, and the rabbi said yes.
The ruler looked at the mirror and became pale. He saw his advisor in the women section of the castle, doing as he wishes to the ruler’s wives.
The ruler got very angry and asked Rabbi Chaim ben Attar what he should do. Rabbi Chaim ben Attar told him that he should take his gun and shoot toward the mirror. The ruler did what he said and headed towards his castle.
When he arrived, he saw that the advisor was shot.
Since then the ruler lowered the Jews’ taxes and relieved them from many hardships.
Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel