Israel Forever

For the week ending 1 December 2012 / 16 Kislev 5773

The Grave That Was Saved

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

One of the most revered graves in Eretz Yisrael is that of Rabbi Chaim ben Attar, the author of the Ohr Hachayim commentary on the Torah. Thousands of Jews come to this grave on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, the day he passed away in 5503 (1743), to pray for Heavenly aid in the merit of this sainted Torah scholar and kabbalist.

During the period of Jordanian control of the Mount of Olives cemetery between 1948 and 1967, there was mass desecration of the Jewish graves. The Arabs even decided to build a road through this ancient cemetery which would pass directly over the grave of the Ohr Hachayim.

When the bulldozer came within inches of the grave, however, something strange happened. The engine sputtered and died. Another attempt the following day failed in a more spectacular way. As the bulldozer rushed towards the grave at full speed, it suddenly flipped over and plunged into the adjoining Valley of Kidron, killing its driver.

The Arabs thereupon abandoned their plans for desecrating this holy grave and rerouted their road to pass much higher on the mountainside. Visitors to the grave can clearly see how the original clearing went straight in the direction of the Ohr Hachayims grave.

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