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Yosef Chaim’s Secret Formula

Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

“I keep asking Hashem to take away my freckles and He hasn’t done it yet. Maybe I could find a remedy in that book!”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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o, Yosef Chaim, what have you been learning today?” asked Abba.

We were sitting down to supper. Ima had put a huge, steaming bowl of homemade couscous on the table. Mmmm! My favorite! Ima served me a huge portion; she knows how much I like couscous! I made a brachah, took a bite, and turned to Abba.

“We learned something really interesting today, Abba! We read in Masechet Berachot

about an amazing sefer that had cures for all the illnesses in the world!”

“Ah, that would be the Sefer Harefuot,” said Abba.

“Yes, that’s the one!” I was pretty excited about it because it seemed like such a great thing. “The rav said it’s believed that Shlomo Hamelech wrote it, but then Chizkiyahu Hamelech hid it, no?

“That’s right,” Abba agreed.

“What a shame!” I exclaimed. “Look at all the sick people in the world! They could all be cured!”

“Well, Rashi says that Chizkiyahu Hamelech hid the sefer because he thought that people were turning to the book for remedies instead of to Hashem,” Abba explained.

“Well, I wish we still had the book!” my kid sister Sara Malka piped up. She’s eight and pretty sharp. “I keep asking Hashem to take away my freckles and He hasn’t done it yet. Maybe I could find a remedy in that book!”

Poor Sara Malka! I don’t know how it happened; in a family of Moroccans with olive skin, black hair, and brown eyes, she turned out fair-skinned and fair-haired with blue eyes. I guess some Ashkenazi gene from some long-ago generation must have snuck in! And that freak gene also gave Sara Malka a million freckles scattered all over her face! She absolutely hates them. I wish we had the Sefer Harefuot just so I could get rid of her freckles for her (although between you and me, I think they’re cute!)


Suddenly, an idea jumped into my head. You know how it is with my ideas; they just appear miraculously.

“Ima, how is Geveret Zilberman?” I asked innocently.

Geveret Zilberman is one of our neighbors. She’s very old but still very alert. Lots of people in the Old City go to her for cures. She’s not a doctor, but she knows all kinds of traditional remedies, passed down from generation to generation.

“She’s fine, as far as I know, Yosef Chaim,” Ima replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no particular reason,” I answered casually. “Great couscous, Ima!” I added, changing the subject quickly.

The next day, on my way home from Talmud Torah, I knocked on Geveret Zilberman’s door. I thought I would just ask her something… (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 711)


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