Rabbi Raphael Pinto

Imbued with great piety, Rabbi Raphael Pinto was a man fervently and unequivocally connected to the service of G-d and the performance of mitzvot. Many were those who had the immense merit to know and draw close to him. He was the son of Rabbi Haim Pinto of Casablanca (who himself was the grandson of Rabbi Haim Pinto of Mogador).

As much Jews as Arabs, all came to him for much-needed comforting and blessing. It would never take long for these to go into effect, and the people who came there to pray or light candles – those who had fallen prey to great difficulties – felt themselves comforted by Rabbi Raphael, who would normally give them a glass of Mahia. He took advantage of this respite to recount stories of the Tzaddikim and the miracles they performed.

Rabbi Raphael would tell the pilgrims that it was forbidden to display one’s sadness in the home of Rabbi Haim Pinto because, he made it clear, faith is increased through joy. And in this way the pilgrims left his home, profoundly convinced that their troubles had disappeared. These same people, who were not at all ungracious, came back to offer a Seuda as a way of saying thank you.

As noted above, Arabs came to ask for blessings as well, and these were always granted to them. Rav Eliyahu Dahan heard with his own ears the story of an Arab who had a serious problem with a member of his family. They had entered into the cattle business together, and they trusted each other so much that no contract had been made between them, right up until the day that one of them tried to cut the other out of the business. Given the fact that there were never any documents that had been drawn up and signed, our man’s feeling of being in the right didn’t necessarily make him so.

Now the person that Rav Eliyahu Dahan had been listening to (our man in question) had a Jewish neighbor. She advised the man to visit Rabbi Raphael Pinto. It must be said that the man didn’t have much faith, but in desperation went to his home. Rabbi Raphael Pinto warmly welcomed him, and the man lit a candle and began with the following innocent and sincere words: “Rabbi Pinto, I don’t know you, but I want to believe in you. I want neither cattle nor money, but if I’m to lose everything, may my business partner, the person who so dishonestly tricked me, not profit either.”

Rabbi Raphael Pinto consoled him as best as possible and promised that the miracle of the Tzaddik wouldn’t delay in happening. At the end of the same week, the mother of our man, having come from the village, announced that all the cattle were dying. The stable they were in had caught on fire and they had been seriously injured by the intoxicating smoke that was created by the blaze.

It was from the time of that story that our man regularly visited with the Tzaddik to thank, in his manner of prayer, both Rabbi Raphael and Rabbi Meir Pinto.

The home of Rabbi Raphael was insignificant in appearances but incredibly grand by virtue of the teachings that came out of it. In walking inside, independent of the joy and faith that filled the home, one could discern one great feature at the Tzaddik’s, a feature that was probably the most important of all: Modesty.

It is said that a few days before his passing, Rabbi Haim Pinto of Casablanca gathered his sons together in order to bless them. When it came the turn of Rabbi Raphael, Rabbi Haim Pinto began to cry. When he was asked the reason for the tears rolling down his face, he declared that his son would die a horrible death.

And unfortunately, we know that his prophecy came true one day in 1980, 43 years after his death. In fact, an Arab in the neighborhood and two other individuals broke into Rabbi Raphael’s home in the middle of the night and savagely beat him with an iron bar, then stole everything he had.

After a week of unbearable suffering, Rabbi Raphael rendered his soul to G-d. The Tzaddik’s maid remembers that a few days before his passing, he said, “On the day that I die, a great darkness will ensue.”

And so it was that on the night following his death, Casablanca found itself completely in the dark, an electrical failure having plunged the inhabitants of the city into a total blackout.

Finally, not long after the death of the Tzaddik, an Arab neighbor entered his home and, finding Rabbi David Shlita there, said, “May the Tzaddik himself disclose the identity of his murderer.” That same night, around midnight, the police arrested the murderer in question. One can say that the Arab’s request had been granted because the murderer quickly admitted to his horrendous crime.

The day of the burial, the entire city of Casablanca was in mourning. One month later another tragedy struck, and this time Rabbi Meir also left this world. On that day, the Chevra Kadisha came to pray and was forced to wait close to five hours as the Tzaddik agonizingly passed away, yet with a smile on his lips.

The Hilloula of Rabbi Raphael is Shevat 12.




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