Monday, May 26, 2014

A Shavuot Miracle In Tunisia

Matzliach "the Antique Dealer," as he was known, lived long ago in Tunisia. He was a great lover of Torah, though not an outstanding scholar. And, though he was not very rich, he gave charity generously.
He was particularly known in the Jewish community for his special custom in connection with Shavuot, the festival of the Giving of the Torah. Every year he invited ten scholars to his home on the first night of Shavuot. He prepared a fine feast for them, and after the meal they would recite the special "Tikun" prayers and study Torah the entire night.
Matzliach started this tradition when, years earlier, he learned of the custom to stay awake on the first night of Shavuot. At the time, he was greatly surprised to hear that the night before G-d was to give the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai, they did not stay awake! Indeed, they slept soundly, so that when G-d descended on the mountain early in the morning, His chosen people were not there! It wasn't that the people were not eager to receive the Torah, but rather that they wanted to be well rested and refreshed for the great moment of Divine Revelation.
And so it became the custom of Jews everywhere to make up for this by staying awake the night of Shavuot, in this way "correcting" what had happened. In fact, this is what "Tikun" means - correction.
One year when Shavuot approached, Matzliach found himself in a difficult situation. Business hadn't been good and not only didn't he have money for his usual feast, but he didn't even have the funds for food and wine for the holiday. Sadly he told his wife Mazal about his predicament.
"I still have my precious earrings," Mazal said, taking them off and giving them to him. "Take them to the pawnbroker to get a loan until things improve."
Matzliach took the earrings to the pawnbroker and received a tidy sum.
As he was walking home, Matzliach met the chief rabbi of Tunisia, Rabbi Hai Tayeb.
"You saved me a trip," the Rabbi said. "I'm going around collecting for our poor, so they can celebrate Shavuot with joy."
Without hesitation, Matzliach gave the Rabbi the money he had just received from the pawnbroker.
On his way home, as Matzliach wondered what he would tell his wife, he heard his name called.
"His Majesty sent me out to buy a set of antique coffee-cups. I have no idea where to get them," said one of the servants of the ruler. "But you are an antique dealer. Get them for me, and you will be amply rewarded."
"I will try my best," Matzliach promised. The dealer he went to had such a set and was happy to sell them off cheaply to Matzliach.
Matzliach went to the Royal court and was introduced to the King. "Just what I wanted," he said. Then he asked how much he owed for the cups.
After hearing the price, the surprised king asked, "That's all you paid for these precious cups? The ruler of Tunisia is not looking for bargains. You shall be paid their full value!"
Matzliach left the king's palace with a large sum of money. Walking home, he met the Chief Rabbi again.
"I can now afford to double my donation," Matzliach said happily.
"Thank G-d, we both did well today," the Rabbi said. "Have a happy Shavuot."
Indeed, it was a happy holiday for Matzliach and his wife Mazal. And what made them happiest was that this year, too, they could observe their custom of celebrating Tikun-night as before.

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