Miracle at Midnight

“Miracle at Midnight”

There are certain customs that set the cream of the crop apart. Tikun Chatzot is one of those.

Tikun Chatzot, literally “The Midnight Rite”, is a custom upheld by the particularly devoted, where prayers are said for the return of the temple and commiseration with the Divine Pain of Israel’s exile is contemplated.

The saintly kabbalist, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (1720-77), the “Rashash”, organized and led a nightly Tikun Chatzot ceremony at the Kotel. It was a heartbreaking and simultaneously inspiring affair. However, before the Rashash attained international acclaim he sat alone.

This is the story of how he gained recognition:

The Qadi of Jerusalem, an important Muslim judiciary figure had recently moved into a home close to the Kotel and the Rashash’s sob-filled prayers were keeping him up at night. He said a small troupe of soldiers to investigate. When they returned and told him that the rabbi was responsible for the Qadi’s sleepless nights. His response was swift: Kill him.

The soldiers, armed with curved saber, went out to carry out the task. How many seasoned killers does it take to put an end to an elderly rabbi. They unsheathed their swords, crept up in approach and…

Dropped their swords, raised their hands up overhead, and stood frozen.

Obviously, they were unable to return to the Qadi, who, in turn, became nervous and went to check out the situation for himself. He strapped up his sandals, got his staff and went out. The scene left him slack-jawed: twelve soldiers with their weapons on the floor and hands in the air and a few meters away, the Rashash, sitting on the floor and crying. The Rashash looked up and his eyes met the Qadi’s. The Qadi felt an earthquake, soon realizing that it was his own body that was trembling in fear.

Now realizing what kind of godly individual he had threatened, the Qadi begged for forgiveness and the release of his soldiers. The Rashash agreed, and now indebted, it was the Qadi that first spread the message of the Rashash’s holiness and mystical power.

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