Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Iyar 5759 - May 5, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







A Righteous Shoemaker in Jerusalem

by M. Samsonowitz

Unconventional Treatments

I braced myself for what I knew would be the look of disbelief, the suspicious eyes, and the pursed lips. A friend had informed me a day ago that an old, painful medical condition of hers had recurred, and she was suffering agonizing pain and almost total immobility. Her doctor had explained to her years before that she suffered from a condition in which several bones in one of her toes had fused together and when that toe would slip and crack, she needed months of rest, staying off of her foot, as well as injections and medicine to stabilize the painful disorder. She was trying to reconcile herself to another months-long haul until she would once again regain her mobility. Without delay, I told her, "You need Shabtai!"

Refusing to listen to another word, I whisked her away to the dust-blanketed, 1920's-vintage shoe store located at 2 Meah Shearim Street, right next to Eisenbach's taxi stand. Passing the front window which featured shoes that seemed as if they could have fit in a museum exhibit for medieval artifacts, we entered the store and were acknowledged by Shabtai. He was a short Sephardi shoemaker whose patented, unique orthopedic shoes were famous all over Jerusalem for the yeshuos they wrought. I was sure they could help my friend -- who incidentally was a nurse married to a doctor.

He had unconventional methods of diagnosis and cure that immediately filled the uninitiated with suspicions that he was a charlatan, a crackpot, a crook -- or all three. First he looked over his client's hands and from this diagnosed what his/her health problems were. Then he told the client to stand up, and proceeded to jab him in select spots from head to toe, each place guaranteed to elicit a ringing yelp from his victim, whose suspicions were growing by the second.

The next stage was outfitting the client in one of his specially designed orthopedic shoes. These bulky monsters had two inch heels, were laced up past the ankle, and had a thick sole underlaid with numerous bumpy arches. Today it is fashionable to wear high-laced mountain shoes, but in previous decades it took bravery to step foot in public with them.

After the client walked to and fro a few times, Shabtai had him take off the shoes so he could study the soles to see if the shoes were balancing the person properly. If it wasn't to his satisfaction, Shabtai inserted arches under the insole in places that only he could specify, and he set the client off on another walk.

After the client was properly fitted, Shabtai did one last test: he jabbed you again in all the places he jabbed you before, this time triumphantly showing you that they hurt less or not at all -- proof that his shoes had begun to effect the cure.

At this point, first-time clients would whisper in downright disbelief to their companions, "This guy must be a professional con artist." Or, "He just knows all the pressure points in the body." Or "Is this guy for real?"

After my friend had walked with the shoes a few times, Shabtai said, "You see, it already hurts much less," and he quickly bent down to slam his thumb on the ailing toe. My friend's face recoiled in fear, ready for the excruciating pain which she was sure would convulse her body. But when the blow came, she realized that the pain was, in fact, rather bearable. "Hey, how did he do that?" she said in wonderment.

Shabtai explained that the problem was poor blood circulation and now that his shoes had balanced her properly and the blood was able to reach the toe, she would get over the problem very quickly. Indeed, after she got over the first miserable week in his shoes, she regained full mobility and her problem was alleviated.

Effecting Cures

I first became acquainted with Shabtai when a neighbor told me that she had gone to him with her toddler, who suffered from crooked feet. The suffering infant kept kicking off the shoes joined at the soles by a metal board which their orthopedic doctor had given them, and the frustrated parents didn't know what to do. They discovered Shabtai, and lo and behold, a pair of Shabtai's shoes had corrected the problem in short order.

After that, I too had made my acquaintance of Shabtai, and he in quick order became my first stop when feet and back problems arose in the family. I quickly gained respect for the short shoemaker whose expertise and knowledge was unconventional but unquestionably effective. I sent numerous friends and relatives to him, and for each he effected a salvation.

A neighbor, a 25 year old woman, suffered so much from back problems that her back ached her even after a full nights' sleep. Shabtai warned her that if she doesn't take care of herself right away (i.e. wear his shoes), she would be crippled within twenty years. She wore his shoes religiously for three years, during which time she was free of back pain.

A relative who had suffered a slipped disc and had even been in traction came to Israel after a long period of recovery. Lugging around her suitcases had caused the disc to slip again, and she arrived in Israel in agony. Of course, her first address had to be Shabtai. He fitted her with a pair of his shoes, and within a week, the slipped disc was gone and she was walking the hilly streets of Jerusalem while I tried to keep up.

Shabtai was vital for me personally, when I noticed that one of my children was not developing properly, and by ten months could not crawl. After checking his hands, Shabtai told me that the lowest vertebra had slipped out of place and his legs were not aligned, and this what was preventing the child from crawling.

Secure with his diagnosis, I arranged for physical therapy and the child's problem was quickly corrected. Every visit to his store introduced me to more back and feet sufferers for whom Shabtai was the last address, after they had tried everything else. People came from all over the country -- and around the world too -- seeking succor.

I glimpsed over the years that there was far more to the man than just his career as an innovative, successful shoemaker. Little did I realize that Shabtai was a personality of rare depth, a unique confluence of the East and the West, an old- style working man and an erudite scholar, a homiletic lecturer and a kabbalistic expert, a tzaddik nistar who appeared in the guise of a commoner.

Early Childhood

Avraham Tzvi Shabtai was born in 1929 in Herat, Afghanistan, a scion of the well-known and large Shabtai family. The roots of the family began with a Hungarian Jewish refugee who reached Afghanistan over 200 years ago and married into a local Jewish family. The family had two branches, one of which was businessmen and the other religious functionaries.

His father, Yosef, was well provided by a family inheritance, and he undertook to teach at a talmud Torah, and held the honorable capacity of shamash at a local synagogue. When Yosef's first wife only bore him one daughter, Yosef married a second wife who bore him Avraham Tzvi and another son and daughter.

The expanded family unit lived in complete harmony. Until the end of his life, Avraham Tzvi always kept an azkara (yahrtzeit) for his stepmother, with whom his relations were as cordial as with his real mother.

When the shul's roof caved in on Yosef and killed him, his two wives decided to leave the diaspora for good, and move to Eretz Yisroel. As they journeyed past a forest near Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the migrants were attacked by robbers who stole their large cache of gold, jewels and clothing. Despite their sudden impoverishment, the group decided to keep their resolve and place their future in the hands of the Almighty.

Their harrowing trip lasted several months during which time they traversed India, Iran, Iraq and Jordan. When Avraham Tzvi arrived in Jerusalem in 1935, he was a mere 8 years old. The formerly wealthy family now had to rent a storage room for their quarters. They lived in the Beis Yisroel neighborhood far from the Old City, which was still the center of Jewish life in those days.

Avraham Tzvi at first was enrolled in the Bnei Tzion cheder, but at age 9 he was sent to learn a trade to support the family. An Ashkenazi shoemaker was found in Sha'arei Chesed who was willing to apprentice the youth.

HaRav Menachem Menashe

In a nearby neighborhood, a prominent talmid chochom from Turkey called Rav Menachem Menashe was the acknowledged spiritual leader of many of the local Sephardic citizens. He had founded a synagogue called Ahavas Chaim on Chaim Ozer street. One of his important initiatives was to write a book on the parshas hashavua of the same name which became a best seller in the Sephardic world, and he eventually issued dozens of editions.

This talmid chochom unflaggingly sought ways to preserve Judaism and inspire his fellow Jews to live faithful Jewish lives. One of his initiatives was to gather all the poor children who were forced to work for a living during the day, and to provide them with teachers and special shiurim at night. Despite barely making ends meet himself, he found the money to pay for teachers and in some cases, arranged for children to get vocational training.

Many Sephardic rabbinical leaders of our generation were among those waifs who he had taken under his wing. HaRav Chaim Brim, a noted Yerushalmi scholar, called HaRav Menashe the Sephardic Chofetz Chaim.

Rav Menashe was impressed with the young Avraham Tzvi. He persuaded the young boy to attend the shiurim in his shul, and lavished special attention on him. Impressed with the youth's intelligence and deep fear of G-d, he took Avraham Tzvi as a son-in-law when the lad turned 16 -- despite the youth being shorter than his daughter, and coming from an impoverished home.

Shabtai joined his father-in-law in helping run Ahavas Chaim. While keeping a distance from politics, Rav Menachem Menashe recognized the Zionists for the menace they were, and he was at one with the views of the Yerushalmi zealots. Commensurately, to teach his youths in Ahavas Chaim, he took brilliant Torah scholars with a clear anti-Zionist orientation -- HaRav Yaakov Shechter, and HaRav Zev Cheshin -- who also happened to be Breslover chassidim. In addition to teaching their proteges gemora, they also filled them with religious zeal. These two scholars also taught Avraham Tzvi privately, and he adopted their religious philosophy and saw them as his mentors for the rest of his life.

A Breslover Chossid

Following his mentors, Avraham Tzvi became a Breslover chossid, and for the rest of his life he had a daily seder to study Breslover seforim. Other seforim that were guide posts for his life were the halachic sefer Ben Ish Chai -- which he also reviewed hundreds of times -- and the Zohar, which he completed yearly. His set of Zohar was covered with numerous annotations which had accumulated over the years.

Shabtai thus synthesized a derech halacha emanating from the great Sephardic decisors, with a derech hachaim based on Breslover chassidus. His attachment to Breslover chassidus was so deep that he gave the names Nachman and Natan to his first two sons.

Besides those intimately acquainted with him, very few knew that the Meah Shearim shoemaker was one of Jerusalem's greatest zealots. While eschewing any interest or involvement in politics, Shabtai for two years didn't touch a locally- grown vegetable to avoid any question of eating terumo. His son recalls that for those two years, the only spread the family put on their pieces of bread was cocoa butter.

Even though many who lived in Jerusalem at the time were not knowledgeable in the laws of Shmittah, Shabtai meticulously avoided any produce if it could not be clearly proven that Shmittah laws had been observed in its growing. During the first Shmittah after the founding of the State, the Shabtai family consumed almost no vegetables.

During his early adulthood, Shabtai joined an "underground" of shomer Shabbos who visited stores in the Old City on Friday and prevailed upon them to close before Shabbos. The spirited youths were not shy of using more persuasive methods when respectful speech did not work, such as overturning stands and demonstrating. During the difficult years after the founding of the State, Shabtai collected money with his friend Dovid Tzvi and used it to purchase challos from the Lendner bakery in Beis Yisroel which they then distributed anonymously among the poor, late at night.

One winter, both youths came down with pneumonia because of these late-night forays, and Shabtai spent three days in the hospital hovering between life and death. The doctor sternly forbade him to go out at night even when dressed warm -- but as soon as he was released on Friday morning, he was back to his bread distribution.

His Shoe Store

In the early 1950's, Shabtai opened his first shoe store in the Meah Shearim market where he made regular shoes to order, as was common in those days. The dusty store was more of a center for tzadikim nistarim than a shoe store, since many of his friends came to study Torah on its premises.

Shabtai, himself, in the middle of cutting leather for a shoe, would sometimes stop the machine and rush over to write a Torah thought that had occurred to him, on a scrap of leather. The family has a pile of such scraps containing his thoughts, the earliest of which goes back forty-five years.

A few years later, Shabtai moved his store to the beginning of Meah Shearim street, and he served his clientele there for three decades. His daily schedule involved two hours of Torah study in the morning, followed by long hours at work. He sometimes only returned home at 10:00 at night. His livelihood and communal work so occupied him that the only time he was able to spend privately with his wife was on Friday night, when he helped her prepare for a shiur she gave to a local group of women on the parshas hashavua.

Clandestine Philanthropy

Now that he was making money, Avraham Tzvi showed himself to be as generous with charity as he was zealous. Numerous poor people got shoes for free. Many times he stopped a child in the street wearing torn shoes and brought him into his store where he treated him to a new pair.

And shoes wasn't the only thing he gave away. He used his comfortable income to support many poor families. It was his rule to give a fifth of his income away to charity, but even a fifth was not enough, and he was usually overdrawn on his charity funds.

When HaRav Yehuda Tzadka made a special fund in Porat Yosef to support poor talmidei chachomim in the yeshiva, no one knew that a large part of the fund came from Shabtai's pocket. He also supplied a large percentage of the Dushinsky yeshiva students with shoes. In the later years of his life, many Dushinsky chassidim would drop by and thank him for the kindness he had done with them when they were young and without means.

HaRav Reuven Elbaz was a young, poor, up-and-coming Torah scholar who was asked by HaRav Dwek to give a weekly Shabbos shiur in the Musayof shul in the Bucharim neighborhood. HaRav Dwek said he had an anonymous donor who would pay him for his efforts, and this pushed HaRav Elbaz to accept the offer. It was this humble beginning which propelled HaRav Elbaz onto his career as one of the most powerful orators and machzirim biteshuva of our generation, bringing many thousands of Jews back to Judaism. This Jewish leader is today constructing a huge block-long center for his Or Hachaim Yeshiva. Only years after he had taken his first step in lecturing did HaRav Dwek reveal to him that the mysterious donor had been Shabtai. It was during the shiva for Shabtai that his children found out about this act of generosity.

The vast majority of his charity and chessed will remain unknown, because Shabtai hid his lofty spirit in the outer wrappings of a simple shoemaker, and never spoke of his acts on behalf of others. Only years after knowing Shabtai did I glimpse that he was not the simple man he appeared to be when I once entered his store and saw him writing in a notebook. After I glanced at it and pestered him to tell me what it was, he admitted he was writing a commentary on the Zohar.

Miraculous Rescue

In the days before VAT, Israeli law stipulated that all merchandise had to be tagged with a purchase stamp affixed to it. Regular shoes had a 20-30 agorot stamp, and orthopedic shoes required a 1 lira stamp. At the time, Shabtai had 1000 pairs of shoes in his store, and, having compassion on the poor clients who frequented his store, he wasn't particularly keen to keep this law and pass the charge on to them. An informer squealed on him to the government, and the Income Tax Office sent two trucks to carry off all his merchandise and left him orders to show up for a showdown the following day at 10:00 a.m.

Shabtai rushed to his father-in-law and told him the devastating news. "They'll fine me and I'll have no shoes to sell!" he told him in desperation. HaRav Menachem Menashe immediately stood up, and Shabtai and Shabtai's oldest son followed him out to the Ahavas Chaim shul.

HaRav Menashe opened the aron hakodesh and together the three recited Ana Beko'ach. After a few minutes of silent deliberation, HaRav Menashe told Shabtai, "Tomorrow go to the Customs office at 8:00 a.m. and they'll finish the matter with a 30 lirot fine."

"What?" said the frazzled Shabtai. "I would gladly pay more than 30 lirot!"

His father-in-law stressed again that he should go at 8 and not at 10. Shabtai arrived at 8 in the morning and waited in front of the locked gate of the division. When the first official arrived and saw him, he called out, "Shabtai! What are you doing here?"

The official turned out to be an old friend from the Shabbos underground whom he hadn't seen in years. Shabtai explained his difficult situation, and the friend reassured him. "Don't worry! I'll get your file from the other official, and I'll take care of it. I'll write up a paper saying that it was all a mistake and you didn't know you had to affix purchase stamps. You'll only have to pay a 30 lira fine."

Jolted by the sudden developments, Shabtai was speechless when the entire shipment of shoes was returned to his store that afternoon. The family later discovered who the informer was. Several years later, the man was walking on Strauss street when he suddenly fainted. He swallowed his tongue and choked to death.

His Medical Skills

It was in the 60's that Shabtai developed his innovative Dr. Peleson shoes (peleson = peles -- balance) for which he applied and received an international patent. He once told a friend that he had suffered from polio as a child, and it had left him with a certain disability in his walking gait. He experimented with placing arches in shoes and soon fixed his problem.

He realized that many human ailments occur because the body is improperly balanced and this causes circulation and bone problems. After experimenting with different shoe formats, he arrived at the correct elevation and design which would perfectly balance the human body. He began to mass produce the shoes in different sizes for both men and women, and soon word circulated of the unusual shoes with literally put people back on their feet. He augmented his orthopedic knowledge which various other alternate medicine disciplines.

When his wife suffered her final illness at the young age of 40, one of the doctors he brought her to was an expert who diagnosed illnesses by studying his patients' fingernails. Intrigued, Shabtai prevailed upon the man to teach him the skill, and soon Shabtai was utilizing this discipline in serving his customers. He also studied the healing power of numerous herbs and concocted a special mixture for eczema which effected a cure within 24 hours.

In his search to discover such cures, he poured over medieval medical works including those by Galen.

His skill in anatomy was astonishing. In addition to his shoes, he often gave his clients a regimen of physical therapy to follow which he claimed would supplement and reinforce the effect of the shoes. He could discern which areas in the body were suffering from poor circulation and knew that they were inevitably foci of pain.

I remember one frail 70-year old hunchbacked lady who I met leaving his store. She told me that before she bought Shabtai's shoes, she couldn't walk. The shoes enabled her to walk, and the regimen of physical therapy he gave her -- implemented by her daughter -- enabled her to move free of pain. Another skill he was versed in was reading faces and palms. He had acquired the ability to read palms from his mentor HaRav Zev Cheshin.

Clients Come the Worldwide

When Shabtai first came out with his patent, the doctors pooh- poohed the idea. The bulky, high-heeled shoes looked like an ancient relic of Victorian times, not a life-saving medical tool of great effectiveness. But when they saw he was able to return the circulation to invalids who were candidates for amputation, they gradually changed their minds.

The Defense Ministry recognized him as a professional orthopedic shoemaker who was authorized to make shoes for soldiers with special needs. Doctors also found themselves among his clients, and with the years, Shabtai collected several albums full of letters from clients and recommendations from doctors attesting to the salvation his shoes had wrought.

Shabtai acquired a large following of Yerushalmi Jews, yeshiva bochurim and Yishuv hayoshon residents who wouldn't make a move with their medical problems without first consulting him. When he differed from the doctors, he usually proved to be right.

One of his regular clients was the Satmar Rov, HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum. Every time the Satmar Rov came to Jerusalem, he ordered a new pair of shoes from him. The only time Shabtai travelled to America (for his son's wedding in Canada), he made sure to drop by Williamsburg to take the Satmar Rebbe's measurements.

Other dedicated clients were the Baba Sali of Netivot and his son HaRav Meir Abuchatzera.

One desperate woman once came to him, crying that the doctors had told her that she could not bear children. After checking her hands, Shabtai told her that her womb was tilted at the wrong angle but he felt he could remedy it with a pair of his shoes. When she came back a year later bearing an infant, she told him that she had named her son after him.

Many people urged him to open a factory to manufacture his shoes in mass production, but Shabtai made his shoes not to make money but to do chessed. His goal wasn't to get rich but to solve people's ailments and alleviate their suffering. Moreover, every person had to be fitted according to his needs. It was no exaggeration to say that Shabtai had an arch for every person. Some of his shoes had as many as 170 pieces under the insole. His work was so life-saving for so many people, that it was a disappointment to him that none of his children wanted to take over his life's work.

Oratorical Skills

Although Shabtai was famous for his amazing medical skills, his talents went far beyond. He was an acclaimed orator, whose motzei Shabbos shiurim at the Ahavas Chaim synagogue were popular with the worshipers. His writing was fluent and appealing, and his father-in-law found no better person to entrust with the job of rewriting his sefer Ahavas Chaim in modern Hebrew. Shabtai rewrote the sections of Bereishis and Shemos, including a number of Breslover stories in the process.

Shabtai was fluent in numerous languages: Afghan (similar to Farsi) was his native language. He picked up Yiddish and Hebrew after he moved to Jerusalem. He learned Ladino from his father-in-law and that became the language in which he conversed in his home. He learned Arabic from the Arabs in the Old City.

Concerning his tzidkus, there is not much to say -- for the simple reason that every act of his was performed so humbly and discreetly, that no one was privy to it. But we can glean an idea from the fact that after he was confined to a wheelchair in the last ten years of his life, he hired a person to take him to shul at 5 in the morning daily. He hadn't turned over a new leaf in old age; this was just part of his ongoing devotion to halacha that he had practiced throughout his life.

With the years, Shabtai was acknowledged as a baal eitzos, a man whose advice was concise, effective and to the point. People from his neighborhood would often seek his advice on numerous matters, and towards the end of his life, many considered him a tzaddik nistar and gave him kvitlach to pray for them.

The Tzaddik of Maaleh Adumim

Twelve years ago, he suffered his first stroke and had to be hospitalized. True to form, as soon as he was well enough to stand up, he darted out of the hospital and returned to his store to place arches in his shoes to improve his condition. After this, one arm was partially paralyzed, but this didn't stop him from continuing his work.

When his health deteriorated, he moved to Maaleh Adumim to live near his daughter. Although this town was initially a secular outpost, his presence was revered by the residents and he eventually became one of the town's most prominent citizens. He had a hand in the town's steady metamorphosis into a community with a strong religious bent.

He was venerated as the town's tzaddik nistar, and from all echelons of society, people approached him for advice. The rav of Maaleh Adumim, Rav Mordechai Najari, said, "Some people influence others by their words. Others, like Shabtai, influence through the emanation of their face and their presence. Shabtai's presence was felt by everyone, and he was widely revered by everyone in the town, religious and secular alike."

Shabtai could perceive how people were feeling and what they were going through -- just by seeing their face, and even by hearing their voice on the telephone. His perception of people, just like his knowledge of Torah, was sharp and profound. "He had a vertel for everything, and it was always on target," recalls Rav Najari. "Shabtai often quoted the parshas hashavua to cast light on a issue being discussed. Many times he would strike up a conversation with a person in town and inform him of an illness that the man didn't even know he had."

Rav Najari too was a recipient of a pair of shoes from Shabtai. Once, Rav Najari couldn't even sit down, but after using Shabtai's shoes, his back straightened out.

Shmuel Peniel, a non-religious resident of Maaleh Adumim, found Shabtai to be a fount of wisdom on topics ranging from politics to economics to religion. "When the birth of my third child was announced in shul, and he was told mistakenly that the child was born to someone else, Shabtai asked his daughter how could it be that Tzadok had given birth to such a tall son when he is so short. When his daughter told him that the child was born to me and not to the other person, Shabtai asked me what name I intended to give the child. When I told him "Omri," he urged me to give an additional name since "Omri" was the name of a wicked person and if I wanted my child to be healthy, he would need another name. We added the name Pinchos to my son, and thank G-d, he is today as Shabtai said -- both tall and healthy."

Peniel added that several times he brought friends to Shabtai who were suffering from severe backaches. One friend, whom no doctor had been able to help, began wearing Shabtai's shoes and was able to walk without pain.

David Tzarfati, a worker for the Maaleh Adumim Religious Council, recalls that after an operation, he walked unsteadily, and suffered pain in his back. Shabtai saw his physical state, and offered him a pair of his shoes, guaranteeing him that he would soon be able to walk straight without back pain. After suffering the mandatory week of pain while his body readjusted itself to the shoes, within a month he was able to walk easily and without pain. "Today I can't go without them," says Tzarfati.

Tzarfati was one of the regulars who attended the shiurim Shabtai gave in the Maaleh Adumim's Central Synagogue. "He spoke on every subject -- Torah, Talmud, Kabalah. We couldn't understand it all because his lectures were profound."

Several times fights broke out in shul between the shul-goers but when Shabtai spoke up and suggested a way to resolve the issue, his words were accepted, and harmony returned.

Shabtai was especially known for his affection for the children. His pockets were filled with candies, and he frequently called young children over, even irreligious ones, and promised them a candy if they would say a bracha. "Until today," Tzarfati says, "children are still coming to his seat in shul to get a candy from him."

Last Days

Over a year ago, Shabtai told his daughter that HaRav Shechter and HaRav Cheshin had appeared to him in a dream. They told him that they wanted his company, but, "We're giving you some time to finish your commentary." Shabtai never liked to talk about death or the World to Come, and he commented to his daughter, "I don't want them to take me so I'll put off finishing the book just to remain around a little longer."

But in the middle of Adar this year, his rebbes again appeared and told him they wanted him to come. "Never mind about your commentary," they assured him. "Someone else will put it out."

Shabtai asked his son in Canada to come for Pesach. Before Pesach, he cleaned out his cabinet in shul, removed the seforim and his tallis and left it empty. He paid up every person to whom he owed money, and returned all lent items. He told the men in his shiur that he wouldn't be around in another week.

His son from Canada arrived on 13 Nisan, and he immediately went to visit his father. After two hours in which Shabtai imparted instructions and his will, Shabtai suddenly suffered a second stroke.

Losing consciousness, he fell into his son's hands. He was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors informed the family that within two hours he would be dead. But the respirator kept him alive and his breathing remained steady despite being in a coma.

Family members stayed with him around the clock. Finally, on Friday chol hamoed at 2:30 p.m., his pulse rate began to quickly drop and it was clear that the end was imminent. His son from Canada who was present at that moment, recited "Shema Yisroel!" with great emotion, and Shabtai's soul departed.

Passing away erev Shabbos is known to be a very great privilege that many tzadikim long for. Chassidim furthermore say that it is a special privilege that those participating in the funeral should first immerse themselves in a mikveh so they are in a state of purity. Shabtai passed away at an hour when Yerushalmis had finished preparing themselves for Shabbos, had immersed themselves in the mikveh and were now dressed in their shtreimels and Shabbos finery.

The funeral was hastily arranged for 4:00 p.m., in keeping with the Yerushalayim custom not to keep the dead overnight in the city. Among the 250 hastily assembled mourners were friends from Meah Shearim and Beis Yisroel, and a large contingent from Maaleh Adumim including the mayor and city officials. His unique shoes, special wisdom and curing powers are now gone. All that is left is to contemplate the unique mix of yiras Shomayim, zeal, ahavas Yisroel and chessed that Shabtai left as his legacy.


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