M

any years later…

The Jewish community mourned when they learned that the great tzaddik of Tunisia, Rav Tzemach Tzarfati, had decided to move to Eretz Yisrael.

“I am old and I want to spend the remainder of my years on this earth basking in the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael!” the tzaddik explained to his community. “I will always daven for you and all of you will constantly be in my thoughts.”

With great fanfare the Jews of Tunisia escorted their esteemed rav onto the ship that would take him across great oceans to Eretz Yisrael. Together with his entire family, the tzaddik set out on the last overseas journey of his life.

On the way to Eretz Yisrael, the ship docked at Istanbul, Turkey. As the tzaddik was leaving the ship with his family, he raised his eyes and saw a massive crowd of Jews waiting to greet him on the dock.

“Shalom aleichem!” The rav of Istanbul said as he embraced the tzaddik with a warm smile. “We’ve been waiting eagerly for your arrival for three hours!”

“Thank you! How did you know I was coming?” the tzaddik inquired, as hundreds of people pushed to get closer to him and receive a brachah.

“Your adoring community in Tunisia sent us a letter informing us of your arrival. They wanted to make sure you received the proper respect during your voyage to Eretz Yisrael!” the rav replied. “You’ll be staying at my home overnight until your ship leaves tomorrow morning.”

The tzaddik thanked the rav and then turned to greet the excited crowd. After many hours, he stepped into a carriage and was brought to the rav’s home in the Jewish district. Thoroughly exhausted from his journey and from standing for so long, he barely had the strength to eat from the delicious meal prepared for him.

Suddenly, as they were sitting and eating peacefully, a rock flew through one of the dining room windows. Glass landed across the table and embedded itself in all of the food. There was a moment of stunned silence and then the rav’s children silently stood up and began to clean up the mess.

Al-lah akbar!”shouted the Arab stone-thrower from outside the home.

“My dear friend, is there nothing you can do about attacks like this?” the tzaddik asked the rav in concern. “Do the authorities not help at all?”

“The laws of this land are against us.” The rav sighed, pushing away a plate glittering with glass shards. “Every day our community feels as if a noose is being tightened around our necks. Tomorrow I and all of the chachamim who live here have an appointment with an enormously wealthy effendi, a man who is rich and powerful, who has the power to help us if he chooses.”

“His name is Abbad,” remarked one of the rav’s sons. “But he’s just like the rest of the effendis in Istanbul. He doesn’t care about the tortured lives of the Jewish citizens.”

“My ships leaves late in the morning,” the tzaddik said, staring with compassion at the sad faces around the table. “That means I have just enough time to come with you early in the morning to meet effendi Abbad.”

“It’s likely a waste of your time,” the rav observed.

“We have to do our part,” the tzaddik countered. “And Hashem will take care of the rest.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 713)