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Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
The Rashash - The Great Mekubal Rav Shalom Sharabi

One the great Yemenite Torah leaders and one of the foremost Mekubalim of his day and leading Mekubal in Yerushalayim, Rav Shalom Sharabi otherwise known as the Rashash, was born in Yemen in 5480/1720.  After being saved from a difficult situation he fulfilled his promise to go to Eretz Yisroel with his sights set on learning Torah in Yeshiva Bet El in Yerushalayim.  After a journey that led him through India, Baghdad and Damascus he arrived in Yerushalayim.  At that point he was already a great talmid chochom and accomplished in both Toras HaNiglah and Toras HaNistar.  Yet trying to keep himself hidden, the Rashash approached the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Gedalia Chayon and applied for the job of a Shamash.  This way he was able to stay anonymous yet quench his thirst for Torah in this great Yeshiva. 

He would stand innocently in the corner during shiurim as if he was not part of the shiur, yet he was listening intently.  His official job was to wake up the talmidim for tikkun chatzos, arrange the seforim, and bring water.  No one dreamed that this "Shamash" was actually a great Talmid Chochom.  When difficult questions would arise that could not be answered by anyone in the yeshiva the Rashash would leave an anonymous note with the correct answer between the Rosh Yeshiva's seforim.  This happened on a number of occasions and left the Rosh Yeshiva and all the talmidim bewildered as to who the author could have been since the Rosh Yeshiva decreed on all the "talmidim" that they must reveal the author.

One day when the daughter of the Rosh Yeshiva saw the Rashash sticking a paper inside her father's sefer she immediately notified her father.  Under pressure from the Rosh Yeshiva the Rashash was forced to admit what he had been doing all along.  Although he pleaded with Rav Gedalia to let him remain hidden, Rav Gedalia took his daughter's revelation as sign from Shamayim that it was time for the Rashash to be revealed.  From then on the Rashash became very close with the Rosh Yeshiva and in time married his daughter.

After Rav Gedalia's death the Rashash, at only 27 years old, was appointed Rosh Yeshiva.  He wrote a peirush on the Arizal's Kabbala work Etz Chaim (written by Rav Chaim Vital) of which Rav Yeddiya Abulafia said that whoever learns Eitz Chaim without the peirush of the Rashash is like a blind man feeling his way in the dark.  Among his most famous writings is the Siddur HaRashash in which is written special kabalistic kavanos for Tefila which have become the standard for all Mekubalim today.

Among his talmidim were the Chida and the Maharit Algazi who became the Rosh Yeshiva after the petira of the Rashash.  His great son Rav Yitzchok Sharabi left in his tzava'a a request to bury him in disgrace and throw him into his kever as a kapara for once acting against the wishes of his father the Rashash.  Naturally upon his death the Chevra Kadisha refused to carry this out.  During the levaya they were attacked by the local Arabs and everyone was forced to leave the niftar and flee for their lives.  The attackers then flung the body which rolled down the hill in disgrace to its final resting place.

The Rashash was niftar in 5537/1777 at the age of 57 in Yerushalayim.  The Rashash promised that in times of tzara whoever davens at his kever with great kavana will be answered.  He is buried on Har HaZeisim and on his Yahrtzeit, the 10th of Shevat many petitioners who go to learn and daven there. Yehi Zichro Boruch

RELATED ARTICLES:mekubalim  Rav Gedalia Chayon  Rav Shlomo Sharabi  Siddur HaRashash  Yemen  Yeshiva Bet El

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