Thursday, June 17, 2010

Story about the Chida's burial facilitated by Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l


More than a century and a half after the Chida was buried in Laverne, plans were made to rebury him on Har Hamenuchos.

The arrangements for the transfer of his remains were made by the Sefardic Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Nissim. It was decided to bring his remains to Eretz Yisroel because the Fascists in Laverne planned to convert the cemetery in which he was buried into a public park, and to reinter him in a new plot in a different cemetery.

When the plane bearing the Chida's coffin landed in Eretz Yisroel, the rabbanim who had escorted it from Laverne learned that during the flight, the coffin had fallen twice and, each time it was picked up, it was turned upside down.

One of the escorts was Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, who later served as Sefardic chief rabbi. After the necessary arrangements for bringing the coffin from the airport to Yerushalayim were made, Rav Eliyahu told the other escorts, "We must open the coffin and rearrange the Chida's remains."

The other rabbanim disagreed with him. However, Rav Mordechai insisted that it wasn't respectable to bury the Chida in such a state. Then, fearfully yet courageously, he lifted the coffin's lid slightly and said, "Rabbeinu HaChida, please forgive me if in any way I am not fulfilling this mitzva properly."

As his hand reached deeper into the coffin, he continued, "Rabbeinu, please do this task by yourself, lest I err."

Suddenly, the coffin began to shake, and a rattling sound - made by the Chida's remains striking the coffin's walls - was heard. The rav standing next to Rav Mordechai was so startled that he fainted.

When the rattling subsided, Rav Eliyahu examined the entire coffin with his hand to make sure that all the remains were in the right place.

From Lod, the coffin was brought to Yerushalayim. There it was met by tens of thousands of Jews, who escorted it to Har Hamenuchos. The Chida had finally come home.

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