The young rabbi was appointed as a Dayan – judge – to adjudicate cases of Jewish law in the religious court in Be’er Sheva, Israel. He was a distinguished scholar and the youngest Dayan in all of Israel.
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was 28 years old at the time. His fame as a Torah scholar and Kabbalist and someone who cared deeply about others preceded his appointment.
Shortly after his appointment, he noticed that every day when he would come to the building where the court cases would take place, he saw a young woman sitting at the entrance to the building holding a Book of Tehillim – Psalms in her hands. With tears in her eyes, she would read from her Tehillim. The whole day she would sit there and when the office closed and the rabbis left for home, she, too, would leave.
One day, the rabbi asked the secretary to approach the lady outside and invite her to come inside to speak to him. When she entered, the rabbi asked her: “Please tell me, what are you doing here? Why do you sit outside the courthouse and read Tehillim every day?”
She answered: “Recently, I emigrated from Morocco, and I was sent to live in Be’er Sheva. In Morocco I married a young man. He was a taxi driver. Ten days after our wedding, he went out to another city on a job, which was about 300 kilometers away. He never returned.”
She continued tearfully: “After some time, we were informed that his taxi was found in the vicinity of a traffic crash, G-d forbid. It appears that he was killed in the accident, but we did not get any indication of where he was buried and who buried him. This was brought before the court of Rabbi Sholom Mashash, who served in the Jewish court in Casablanca. His judgement left me an Agunah (someone whose husband’s whereabout are not known therefore the wife cannot remarry), until there would be verification that my husband had died. And so, I remain an Agunah!”
“I cannot move on with my life and remarry because of my situation,” she lamented.
Rabbi Eliyahu looked at the young woman with compassion in his eyes, as she continued her tale of woe.
“Now that I came up to the Land of Israel, I thought that perhaps here I would find a rabbi who can help me remarry and build a Jewish family. This is why I come here every day to pray to G-d!”
The rabbi asked her: “Have you brought your case before the judges and opened a case file for them to look into this?”
“What do I need a case file for?” she answered innocently. “I go directly to the Creator of the World.”
“And why, may I ask, didn’t you come into the courthouse to discuss this with us?” the rabbi wondered.
“But you are only messengers!” she answered. “I pray to G-d, Creator of the whole world. My lot is only in His hands!”
Rabbi Eliyahu was astounded by the strong faith of this simple woman. He asked her for many details, and then told her to return the next morning at 9:00 am to the court.
The next few hours, the rabbi set aside to make inquiries by the Moroccan rabbis in order to ascertain if anyone knew who were the members of the burial society in the area where the accident took place. It was suggested to him to speak to Rabbi Yitzchak Abuchatzera, known as the ‘Baba Chaki’, who was the head rabbi in the cities of Ramla and Lod.
Rabbi Eliyahu ordered a taxi and left right away for Ramla to the home of the Babi Chaki. When he told him the details of the story, the Baba Chaki said to him: “You have a big mazal (luck). The people in charge of burial from that area recently moved to Israel. One of them lives in Kiryat Ata and the second one lives in Dimona.” He gave Rabbi Eliyahu the address of the two men. Rabbi Eliyahu ordered a taxi driver to take him to Dimona.
When he came to the home of the man, he saw a sign on the door saying that the man of the house recently passed away and the family would be sitting Shivah here. For a moment, Rabbi Eliyahu thought about returning back to his city. However, since it was time to pray the Mincha – afternoon service, and he needed to daven, he decided that he would go inside. He thought to himself, perhaps from Heaven he was brought to this home, to share some words of Torah for the elevation of the soul of the departed.
After Mincha, Rabbi Eliyahu began to speak words of Torah, and comfort for the family. The family members were very impressed by the young dayan and inquired what brought him to their home. He told them the story of the Aguna from Morocco and his efforts to try to help her.
When he mentioned the story of her husband who drove a taxi and the place of the accident, one of the men in the room, an elder person, dressed in traditional Moroccan garb stood up and said: “I buried the taxi driver together with my friend who just passed away. We both together buried this Jew!”
Rabbi Eliyahu understood that surely this was the second man who lived in Kiryat Ata, who had just come to comfort the family of his friend. Rabbi Eliyahu as very moved. To be able to offer respite to an Aguna is something which every dayan is happy about and especially a young dayan.
Immediately, he invited the rabbi of the city, Rabbi Abraham Almalich and together with a third Rav, they set up a Rabbinical court of three and formally accepted the testimony of the man.
The next day the woman arrived at the courthouse at 9:00 am. Rabbi Eliyahu joyfully told his colleagues, the other dayanim all that had transpired the day before. He called in the woman and told her that permission is granted for her to remarry.
The woman informed him with complete simplicity: “Do you see?! You asked me to open a court case, but I prayed to the Creator of the Universe and He already arranged everything!”
The judges were very excited for the young dayan who merited to release a young Agunah from her unfortunate status.
Rabbi Eliyahu turned to his colleagues and said: “This is the power of pure and innocent faith and prayer!
Translated from Sichat Hashavua #1804
“Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li” – I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me.
As we are on the threshold of the final month before Rosh Hashana, the month of Elul (Rosh Chodesh Elul is this Sunday and Monday), we increase in prayer, charity, and study of Torah, for a good and Blessed year physically and spiritually.