Rabbi Nissim Shamama

Rabbi Nissim Shamama was loved and respected by all. As the finance minister of the king of Tunis, he strived to help all those in need, especially Torah scholars. He helped them to publish their books, even though printing at that time was very difficult. His heart and hands were always open and ready to help anyone in need, and whoever was poor could expect to be offered a sizable amount of money by his generous heart.

Rabbi Nissim enjoyed the respect of the king, who trusted the exemplary wisdom with which Rabbi Nissim managed the kingdom’s finances. His position made him famous, but just as his friends were numerous, so too were his enemies, who were jealous of his position and wanted to get rid of him.

One day some of his enemies slandered him to the king, who in his gullibility believed them. Without the least bit of inquiry, the king condemned Rabbi Nissim to death. This decree quickly became known, and Rabbi Nissim set out to leave the country. However he could not find his passport, and it remained lost despite an extensive search.

Rabbi Nissim was a regular at the home of the Gaon Rabbi Avraham Cohen Itzchak, the author of Mishmerot Kehuna. He was his faithful disciple and saw to everything he needed. Now that his fate had turned, he was convinced that Rabbi Avraham would be his defender and savior.

Rabbi Nissim went to see his teacher and recounted how the king had condemned him to death because of his jealous enemies. He also told him that he could not find his passport, for perhaps someone had taken it from him. With a calm and confident voice, Rabbi Avraham tried to reassure him, and after reflecting upon the matter he advised him to assemble a minyan to study Tikkun HaLaila. By the merit of this study and his good deeds, he told him, he would find his passport and succeed in fleeing the country.

That same night, Rabbi Nissim assembled a minyan of Torah scholars at his home to fervently study Tikkun HaLaila and Torah. After all, does the Torah not protect a person from all harm?

At dawn the Torah scholars went home one by one, and Rabbi Nissim decided to go see Rabbi Avraham. As he was about to leave, however, Rabbi Avraham had already beaten him to it and was there at his home, his face beaming.

“I asked a question and in a dream it was revealed to me that your passport is well hidden between the pages of [such and such a book] on your shelf.”

Rabbi Nissim rushed towards the shelf that contained his books, excitedly took out the book in question, and found his passport inside! It was exactly where he had put it.

Because of G-d’s mercy, Rabbi Nissim left Tunis before the guards at the port were told about the king’s decree.




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