Rabbi Chai Taieb Lomet
One of the great Tzaddikim of Tunis was Rabbi Hai Taieb, of blessed memory, who lived from 5504 to 5596 (1774 to 1836). He was a Gaon who knew both the revealed and the concealed matters of Torah, all while remaining humble, discreet, and modest about it.
Once, in the middle of winter, it no longer rained and so a draught ensued. The ground had cracked open with gaping fissures, and desolate fields appeared all fractured and split. The empty wells that had always quenched everyone’s thirst remained dry. Each morning, people would raise their eyes to Heaven with great hope as they awaited a rain cloud rising in the western sky. It would bring water – life. The rabbis of the community remained praying, fervently reciting psalms. They concluded by proclaiming a fast in order to arouse Heavenly mercy.
In the home of Rabbi Hai Taieb, life was taking its normal course as he rose at dawn to serve his Creator. He was always quietly pondering Torah, and when the rabbis announced the fast, he was deep in his books, far removed from everything. His devoted wife also awoke at dawn, ready to serve him.
Rabbi Hai finished his ardent prayers to his Creator.
“Please prepare me a cup of coffee,” he said to his wife.
Her eyes opened wide in astonishment and responded by telling her husband, “Didn’t you hear the decision of the Rabbis? They proclaimed a fast so that it may rain.”
“Really? I didn’t know. All right then, prepare me a cup of coffee all the same. I’ll be right back.”
Rabbi Hai Taieb left his home, raises his eyes to Heaven and, as if he were a son addressing his father, he said to Him who holds the keys, “Master of the universe, Your children are in need of rain. I beg You, don’t prevent rain from falling!”
At that moment, his non-Jewish neighbor found himself not far from Rabbi Hai Taieb’s home when he suddenly heard him speaking to G-d!
He was still feeling surprised when suddenly the sky darkened and a torrential rain began to fall.
Frightened by the commotion caused by the rain and the thunder, the Rebbetzin said to her husband, “The world is liable to get destroyed by such a deluge!”
Rabbi Hai came back to the front door and implored, “G-d Alm-ghty, I beg you, send us rains of blessing.”
The thunder immediately stopped and a gently pouring rain began filling the wells. The public fast was annulled and cries of joy resounded from all sides.
While Rabbi Hai Taieb was going back inside, his non-Jewish neighbor, who had just seen everything that had happened, ran in a panic to the owner of his house (the house that the neighbor was renting). Trembling with fear, he knocked at the door.
“What’s happening?” the owner asked.
“I beg you, I immediately want to change houses! I can’t live in the neighborhood of a man who performs such wonders! If you had heard how he had triggered all the rain with a few words! What will I do if this Jew, who is a Tzaddik, asks G-d to kill me? Have pity on me!”
The man quickly prepared his horse in order to travel to Rabbi Hai. He regretted having to separate from his extremely well paying tenant. Soon afterwards, both of them arrived at the Rav’s.
“Rabbi, your neighbor says that a lion lives in your neighborhood. He’s afraid that one day he’ll be killed.”
“G-d prevents me,” Rabbi Hai replied, “from doing harm to anyone. But promise me as well that you will not wrong a Jew.”
The non-Jew embraced the hand of the Tzaddik, and swore with great reverence to always respect the Jews.