“Rabbi Elazar said: The light that the Holy One, blessed be He, made on the first day of Creation was not that of the sun but a different kind of light, through which Adam could observe from one end of the world to the other. But when Hashem looked upon the generations of the Flood and the Dispersion and saw that their ways were corrupt and that they might misuse this light for evil, He arose and concealed it from them, as it is stated: “And from the wicked their light is withheld.” And for whom did He conceal it? For the righteous people in the future, as it is stated: “And Hashem saw the light, that it was good” – and “good” is referring to none other than the righteous people” (Chagigah 12a).
The uniqueness and greatness of the holy Baba Sali, Rav Yisrael Abuchatzeira zt”l, was not limited to those times that he revealed his strength by performing open miracles, for his entire demeanor was beyond the comprehension of ordinary men. All were amazed by the simplicity with which he spoke about the secrets of creation and the hidden ways in which Hashem guides His world. Even as we know that the pathways in heaven are as familiar to tzadikim as the entryways to their own homes, the matter-of-fact manner in which the Baba Sali spoke about heavenly concepts was astounding.
Stories heard from reliable witnesses abound. One of the most remarkable stories about the holy light and vision of the Baba Sali took place over 46 years ago. A terrible incident occurred in 1972 when a daughter of one of the most prominent Jewish families in Mexico was kidnapped by a group of Mexican gangsters who had been tracking the girl in the hopes of holding her for a large ransom. Unfortunately, this was not wholly uncommon. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the Mexican Jewish community lived in relative stability. The economic boom that followed World War II lasted for nearly 30 years and continued to allow Mexican Jews to greatly prosper. However, the country began to experience economic difficulties that affected them in numerous ways. Abductions, theft, and gang-related crime became all too commonplace, and no one was safe, least of all the wealthy Jews of Mexico and its environs.
The kidnappers demanded $60 million for the safe return of the young girl. If their demands were not met, they threatened, the girl would be executed. There were to be no further negotiations. The family was in a state of panic. They could not possibly come up with that much money and the Mexican police could not be relied upon to find the girl alone.
An uncle of the kidnapped girl was dispatched to Netivot, in Southern Israel, to seek the blessing and advice of the holy Baba Sali. The man rushed to the tzadik’s home and explained what had occurred to his niece in Mexico. He informed the Baba Sali that the kidnappers had said they would not negotiate. They wanted their money, or the consequences were dire.
The Chacham sat in his chair motionless. He seemed to have immersed himself inward, although his face was almost entirely covered by the veil he wore over his face. Suddenly, he called for a pen and paper. His attendant ran to bring the items and the Baba Sali began to talk as he traced the shape of a building on the paper. This is what he said:
“In order to rescue the girl, this is what you must do. Go to so and so (he named a specific place) and there you will find two of the kidnappers. One is short and stout like a barrel and the other is tall and thin like a tree. Bring with you 20 policemen and overwhelm the two kidnappers who are acting as lookouts. Then, take these two men and have them lead you to the spot where the girl is being kept. Be careful. There are another six kidnappers who are hiding out there. Let the first two open the doors and then the police can storm in and rescue the girl. Do this and you will be successful.”
The uncle rushed out and relayed the information, just as the Baba Sali had drawn it up on paper. Baruch Hashem, the raid was successful, and the girl was rescued – the entire plan carried out exactly how the Baba Sali had outlined it from his home in Netivot, over 6,000 miles away! The Chacham had never set foot in Mexico. He had never seen the buildings he diagrammed or how the kidnappers looked. And yet, he could see them, he could see it all!
Undoubtedly, it was the special light – the “Or HaGanuz” – that allowed him to see from one end of the world to the other.