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Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
The Ohr HaChaim - Rav Chaim Ben Attar, Untouchable In Life And Untouchable In Death
On Motza'ei Shabbos 15 Tammuz 5503/1743 at the same time Rav Chaim ben Attar, better known by the name of his peirush on Chumash called Ohr HaChaim, was niftar in Yerushalayim, the Ba'al Shem Tov was washing for Seudah Shlishis and commented to  his talmidim, "The Ner Maaravi has been extinguished."  In Teveria at that same time Rav Chaim Abulafia fainted.  When he woke up, he said that he accompanied the Ohr HaChaim to the gates of Gan Eden.

When Har HaZeisim fell into the hands of the Jordanians after 1948, they started to build a road through the Bais HaKvaros.  When the tractor came to the kever of the Ohr Hachaim it broke down and nothing could start it again.  The next day they brought in a new tractor to clear the path.  As soon the tractor touched the kever it overturned and tumbled into the valley killing the driver.  After that the plans were halted and a road was built higher on the mountain.  The beginning of earlier road is still visible today.

The Ohr HaChaim was born in Sali, Morocco in 5456/1696 into a wealthy family.  As he grew so did his Torah and yiras shamayim and he eventually opened up his own yeshiva. His life was not ideal as he was targeted by the government and thrown into jail on more than one occasion became accused falsely of things that he had no part in.  One time he was even thrown into the lions den and came out unharmed.

His earliest works, chidushim on Shas called Chefetz Hashem, were published in Amsterdam in 1732.  He fled Morocco forever in 1738 after hunger ravaged the population and the survivors all fled.  It was at this time that Rav Chaim decided to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel and open a Yeshiva in Yerushalayim.  The journey lasted a long time and took him through Italy where he published his famous work the Ohr HaChaim in 1741.  Another famous work that he wrote is the Pri To'ar on Yoreh Dei'a.

In Elul 5501/1741 he reached the shores of Eretz Yisroel but could not travel to Yerushalayim because of a plague rampant the city.  Only a full year later did the Ohr HaChaim realize his dream and open a yeshiva in the Ir HaKodesh.  His happiness knew no bounds. In his yeshiva learned two future gedolim the Chida and the Maharit Algazi.  Sadly this dream only lasted one year as the Ohr HaChaim  was niftar on 15 Tammuz 5503/1743, at the young age of 47.  Yehi Zichro Boruch! (See also Kedoshim Asher BaAretz)
RELATED ARTICLES:biography  Eretz Yisroel  Morocco  Ohr HaChaim

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Visitor Comments: 1

YH, 2011-07-18 15:10:59
To follow up with the Baal Shem Tov story:

At the Melave Malkah meal on that motzoei Shabbos, the chassidim gathered their courage and asked, Rebbe, what did you mean when you said that The western light has been extinguished?

The Baal Shem Tov replied, The Ohr Hachayim has died. He was known in the heavenly realms as the Western light.

How does the Rebbe know that? one Chassid boldly asked.

The Baal Shem Tov answered, There is a particular kavannah (intention) for the recitation of the blessing for washing hands which I have always wanted to know. However, this kavannah was hidden from me since only one person in each generation can know it, and the Ohr Hachayim had preceded me. This afternoon, as I washed my hands for shalosh seudos, I suddenly became aware of a new kavannah. I immediately understood that the Ohr Hachayim had passed from this world and now I become the guardian of that kavannah.

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