Meir (“Michel”) Abehsera was born in Morocco, and has lived there, Paris, Manhattan, Binghamton, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Montreal and, most currently, in Jerusalem. He is a pure Sephardi of distinguished ancestry (the renowned Abuchatzeira family), and at the same time a devoted chasid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. At various times he was an engineer, a poet, a cook, a carpenter, a teacher, a best-selling author, a lecturer, and a healer.

Every single one of the above elements plays its part in the highly original writing style, the tight intellectual organization of the content, and/or the unusually elegant design of this, his magnus opus. More importantly, their integration with his penetrating honesty, his refined sense of playfulness, and, above all, his extraordinary love for his fellow beings, has enabled him to attract hundreds of wandering Jews to their roots.

[Included among the latter are the managing editor of this website and his wife.]


It is a prevalent custom among observant Jews to gather on Saturday night, singing and dancing and telling stories until dawn. We extend the Shabbat that has technically passed, carrying some of its holiness with us into days of the week, the realm of the profane. It is the ideal time to speak about the righteous (in Hebrew, "tzadikim"). Any story or anecdote about them is a Shabbat in itself, a rest-stop for the Jew who is preparing to confront the weekdays. It is a place of transition where the mind is given ample time to ready itself for the mundane.

The spiritual forces of darkness have been starving during the entire length of the Shabbat. Therefore, you can only expect that as soon as Shabbat draws to its end, these forces will reach out to devour the defenseless. They lie in wait by the doors of every house of prayer and grabs congregants by the dozen. One bite from the beast, and they are infused with an acute sense of the Saturday night blues.

Saturday night is a most sacred time….

Saturday night is a most sacred time, when exile is boxed in by redemption. It is a time when the nourishment of the spirit is most varied, when all duality is resolved. Intelligence is heightened, and everyone who celebrates the occasion is instantly wise. Doubts wane. Impossible questions are easily answered. The night exhausts itself, depositing a block of resolutions.

It is the night when the true face of the Jew emerges. The subtle mixture of light and darkness gives a brightly hued, vibrant luminosity to the ambient air in which the face reveals ancient wisdom. The image is somewhat grainy, because neither light nor darkness is yet settled in their respective vessels. But in their eager jockeying for position, in that play of volatile contrasts, the true face is exposed.

Shabbat bathes the Jew in a bright and homogenous light….

Shabbat bathes the Jew in a bright and homogenous light which is not necessarily conducive to revelations of individual character. Shabbat is much too full, and therefore permits no contrast. Shabbat is the reservoir, not the conduit. It is contained within specific limits which allow no explosions to occur. Saturday night's light however, flickers relentlessly. It is a black fire whose pulsating luminescence disturbs and disperses the obtrusive layers that camouflage the soul. The Jew is never more conscious of his mission than during these hours. It is on this night that the world was created and on the very same night that light was made. Now, light is again renewed through our actions. As Shabbat draws to its end, and the obscurity of night begins to cover us with its black mantle, we burn a braided candle, whose variegated and animated flame rekindles the light of Creation.

Our holy masters say that the feeling of sadness we experience at Shabbat's end is caused by our subconscious sense of the primordial Shattering of the Vessels - that timeless, spaceless juncture in the history of Creation when the divine light fell into the lower worlds. We are given a taste of that decline. The light of Shabbat has flown back to its nest, and we search for it within. Some mystical writings compare that departure of the light to a deer fleeting from its pursuer, running with its head tilted under and to the side, staring back into your eyes. In that look of the deer, as the light recedes swiftly in the distance, we are given to retroactively appreciate the hidden reality of Shabbat.

It is said that at the beginning of Creation - meaning on Saturday night - the vessels prepared to hold the infinite light of Creation broke. On that same night, the repair of the vessels also began. Thus, we can only assume that there is no more opportune time to repair our own. Darkness was formed when work was left undone. The mundane week lies before us like an open abyss, auguring a reprise of that tragedy. The abyss beckons, and its pull is far out of proportion to our fragilities. The disparity is the main cause of Saturday night melancholia. The threat is real.

Adam…took two stones and struck them one against the other until sparks flew….

The threat is so real in fact, that one cannot possibly remain insensitive to it, since all of us descendf from Adam, who was the first to experience the fall. It is said that upon seeing the sun set for the first time, he experienced a great anguish, certain that darkness had settled on the world because of his sin. That very same night, he took two stones and struck them one against the other until sparks flew. Though such a simple act seemed to hold little promise of transcendence, it was, in fact, the initial stroke that impelled him to return to the Garden of Eden. Poor though it may have been, the light of the fire gave him comfort, and so he blessed it. The memory of that past makes of Saturday night a most opportune time for new beginnings. Anticipation of something new happening is never so great, which is the reason why this night is known as the "Night of the Redeemer".

According to tradition, the Redeemer (Mashiach) will reveal himself in the wink of an eye, even when all the signs and estimations will concur to proclaim his coming. He will surprise everyone, wicked or wise, and also the cautious, those who prefer not to speak about him, from fear of exacerbating other's skepticism, or from taking the risk of spoiling the suspense of his coming. Above all, he will most likely surprise those who think and speak of him constantly, even those who serve him. In accordance with that, we are left with no other alternative than to opt for the obvious. The Redeemer will surprise primarily those who expect him the most - as a mother is surprised by the presence of her child, the same with couples, or true friends - for the simple reason that true surprise hits more strongly those who have much life in them. Others, who have less, will most likely find it hard to reach enthusiastically to the news.

It is precisely in such an atmosphere of anticipation - namely, that we could at any moment be taken unaware by something already known - that past faults can be corrected. If folly so treacherously intrudes inside us, to have us commit an error, it is perfectly sensible, therefore, to utilize such means which would take the intruder by surprise. What better scheme is there than to confront the faults during moments that seem so uncertain as to confound them? Being that a fault is, on the whole, of an accidental nature, it is logical that it be exposed to an atmosphere that suits its character. Saturday night's incomplete light makes it an ideal host. No judgment is passed.

But take heed. Don't be so readily fooled by such a display of leniency. The diminished light does not indicate some sort of deficiency or weakness. In truth, the reason why the light has dimmed is because it has traveled a distance to gather momentum, before coming back with a force that renews Creation. Kabbala calls such a light "Or Chozer", "Returning Light". It comes to wake us up from sleep. It says, "Where were you while I was there in your midst? I was a willing guest and you were such a distracted host." It is Shabbat speaking. Distance makes it talk; it has divested itself of its clothing of effervescent gold, and donned a humbler robe to travel lightly.

Creation has just begun….

As the night advances, our faults change aspect. The deeds that are performed for selfish gain are released from bondage. There is no visible trace of corruption in any of them. This occurs because the night makes us more compassionate on ourselves. Or else it is making us so wise that we can discern some of the workings of redemption. In any event, the fact is that at such times, faults greatly contribute to enriching the atmosphere, while the night kindly obliges by returning the favor with a gift all its own. It broadens the scope of each fault as far as the twilight of Creation. There the fault becomes deed, the instant it re-enters its original mold. You can imagine how much such a moment of good-will can benefit anyone, stranger or friend. What appears to him most improbable will resolve itself in the warmth of companionship. His faults experience a loss of identity. They have become new entities altogether. They are enriching reality. The interaction between each fault and the specific hour of the night, formulates the mode of the celebration at hand.

On Saturday night, it is quite visible that the guests experience change the moment they enter the house. However, no transmutation will really begin to take place before the food is served. The animation of the voices generates enough warmth to fecundate the most sterile of thought. The multitude of bodies produces more than enough pressure to wring out bothersome ruminations. The heart is jolted by Chasidic chanting. Music, which usually follows, tears all worries apart. But nothing appears more catalyzing than dance, when every remnant of pain - that of dancer and onlookers alike - is shaken off with each change of cadence. The highlight of the celebration, however, will take place in the calm before dawn, when most people have left. By then everyone in weary. Words are few and the movements slow. Silence prevails in spite of the resonance of voices or the fracas of pots being washed. Not even the dissonant chords played by dilettante musicians are able to disrupt the quiescence of the moment. At this stage, incidental noises are put at the service of silence to give it a new depth. Thus nested, thought is given to witness how the passing of time has fulfilled the night's promises - the cycle of transmutations is virtually completed - and that subsequently, the slowest of metabolism has benefited as well. At any moment, all this abundance of human exchange ignites time, which shoots back far into the past, to redeem it. The past, in turn, redeems the present. Creation has just begun.

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