Mausolé de Rabbi Haïm Pinto à Essaouira - Maroc

Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hagadol Zatsal

Rabbi Haim Pinto the Great was born in Agadir, Morocco on Tammuz 15, 5509 (July 1, 1749), on the Hilloula of Rabbi Haim Ben Attar.

He was the son of the saintly and venerated Rabbi Shlomo Pinto Zatzal, the descendant of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, known by the name of the Rif of Ein Yaakov.

Rabbi Shlomo Pinto Zatzal instructed Torah to his son, Rabbi Haim Pinto, when he was very young. Unfortunately, Rabbi Shlomo Pinto passed away in 1761, leaving behind him an orphan barely 12 years old. That same year, an earthquake completely destroyed Agadir, and numerous Jews fled and settled in Mogador (Essaouira). Rabbi Haim Pinto was to be found among the refugees.

Rabbi Haim Pinto studied Torah along with Rabbi David Ben Hazan at the yeshiva of Rabbi Yaakov Bibas, the Dayan of the city. Rabbi Haim Pinto’s reputation was so great that all Morocco resonated with accounts of his miracles and wonders, and this from his most early years.

His teacher, Rabbi Yaakov Bibas, died in 1769, and the community of the city turned to Rabbi Haim Pinto to accept the heavy responsibility of Dayan. Being but 20 years old, he finally accepted this responsibility in association with his friend, Rabbi David Ben Hazan. Rabbi Haim Pinto carried out his mandate as Head of the Rabbinic Court in an extremely firm manner, and when necessary he knew how to be very strict. Never did he allow someone to act incorrectly, exercising this function for more than 70 years. The greatest Chachamim of the generation esteemed him with fear and respect, and Jews and Muslims alike venerated him. His fame spread throughout Morocco, across the Middle East, and reached all the way to Europe. Eliyahu Hanavi revealed himself regularly to Rabbi Haim Pinto and studied with him, which explains why Rabbi Haim Pinto participated in all the Brit Milahs that took place in Mogador.

Among the many stories about Rabbi Haim Pinto z’’l, the following account has been gathered from the book on him entitled The Light of the Righteous.

Rabbi Haim Pinto awoke every night to recite prayers and to make “requests of G-d”. Afterwards, he would study Torah until dawn. One day his daughter Mazal entered into his room in the middle of the night and saw him studying with a man. In the morning, he scolded her and said, “Why did you come into my room without knocking?” She was not in a position to see Eliyahu Hanavi. “Now you deserve a punishment, meaning that on the day of your marriage you will become blind.” His daughter, who was a great saint, accepted the decree.

A few years later, the grandson of Rabbi Khalifa Malka came from Agadir to Mogador and went directly to Rabbi Haim Pinto’s home. When he saw Mazal, she found grace in his eyes, and so he asked Rabbi Haim Pinto to give his daughter to him in marriage, but the Rabbi refused. He insisted, but Rabbi Haim Pinto absolutely refused. The grandson of Rabbi Khalifa Malka returned to Agadir saddened and hurt because the Rabbi had refused to give him his daughter as a wife.

Later, Rabbi Haim Pinto had a dream in which he saw Rabbi Khalifa Malka, who told him, “I sent you my grandson happy, and you sent him back to me sad.” Rabbi Haim Pinto responded, “Your honor knows that my daughter Mazal saw Eliyahu Hanavi and a decree has been given: On the day of her marriage, she will become blind. This is why I refused her to your grandson.”

Rabbi Khalifa replied that his grandson would accept this decree as is. All of this occurred during the dream.

The next day, Rabbi Haim Pinto sent a special messenger to Agadir to bring the grandson of Rabbi Khalifa Malka to him. When Rabbi Haim Pinto saw him, he explained what would happen to his daughter on the day of her wedding, and he agreed. However, thanks to their merit and uprightness, this cruel decree was annulled and they had children and lived a great many years. They passed away in the same week.

When Rabbi Haim Pinto would arise every night to study Torah, his Shamash (assistant) Rabbi Aaron Ben Haim, would also arise and prepare him a cup of coffee. Once, the Shamash awoke a little late and therefore hurried to prepare a cup of coffee for the Rabbi, when suddenly he heard two voices coming from his room. He then went and prepared an additional cup for the unexpected guest. In the morning, Rabbi Haim Pinto asked his Shamash, “Why did you prepare two cups of coffee during the night?” The Shamash responded, “I heard two voices and I thought to prepare a second cup for the guest.” The Rabbi told him, “Happy are you, my son, you who had the merit to hear the voice of Eliyahu Hanavi. However I decree that you repeat this secret to no one.” After the death of Rabbi Haim Pinto, the Shamash recounted this incident to the inhabitants of the city.

Rabbi Maklouf Ben Lisha came to the home of Rabbi Haim Pinto concerning matters of importance for the community of Mogador. Because of the fact that this was a serious matter, he went directly to Rabbi Haim Pinto in the middle of the night. He entered into his room and saw the Rabbi, whose face was “illuminated”, and someone else who resembled an angel. He wanted to come a little closer, but he was seized with such great fear and fright that he fled to his home. The next day the Rabbi told him, “Very happy are you, my son, who had the merit of seeing the face of Eliyahu Hanavi.” Rabbi Maklouf lived a long time, to the age of 110, and he described this incident in his prayer book.

Rabbi Haim Pinto of blessed memory had four sons: Rabbi Yehudah (known as Rabbi Hadane), Rabbi Yossef, Rabbi Yoshiyahu, and Rabbi Yaakov. All were great Tzaddikim, devoted to Torah and to Klal Israel.

Rabbi Haim Pinto of blessed memory left this world on Elul 26, 5605 (September 28, 1845) at the age of 96. On the day of his passing, he promised his disciples that those who would invoke his name on the day of his Hilloula would see their prayers answered. May his merit protect us. Amen.




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