July 15, 2024
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Nakdimon Ben Gurion and the Six-Day War: Hashem Still Loves Us!

Nakdimon ben Gurion triggered a fantastic miracle! The Gemara (Ta’anit 19b-20a) describes how Nakdimon cried out to Hashem in desperate times to demonstrate that Hashem still loves the Jewish people. In response, Hashem caused the sun to shine after it had set (translation adapted from Sefaria.org).

The Sages taught: Once, all the Jewish people ascended for the pilgrimage Festival to Jerusalem and there was not enough water for them to drink. Nakdimon ben Gurion, one of the wealthy citizens of Jerusalem, went to a certain Roman officer [hegemon] and said to him: Lend me 12 wells of water for the pilgrims, and I will give back to you 12 wells of water. And if I do not give them to you, I will give you 12 talents of silver. And the officer set him a time limit for returning the water.

When the set time arrived and no rain had fallen, in the morning the Roman official sent a message to Nakdimon: Send me either the water or the coins that you owe me. Nakdimon sent a message to him: I still have time, as the entire day is mine. At noontime the official again sent a message to him: Send me either the water or the coins that you owe me. Nakdimon sent a message to him: I still have time left in the day. In the afternoon he sent a message to him: Send me either the water or the coins that you owe me. Nakdimon sent a message to him: I still have time left in the day. That Roman officer ridiculed him, saying: Throughout the entire year rain has not fallen, and now it will rain? He entered the bathhouse in a state of joy, anticipating the large sum of money he was about to receive. As the master entered the bathhouse in his joy, Nakdimon entered the Temple in a state of sadness. He wrapped himself in his prayer shawl and stood in prayer.

He said before God: Master of the Universe, it is revealed and known before You that I did not act for my own honor, nor did I act for the honor of my father’s house. Rather, I acted for Your honor, so that there should be water for the Festival pilgrims. Immediately the sky became overcast and rain fell until the 12 cisterns were filled with water, and there was even more water, so that they overflowed.

As the master left the bathhouse, Nakdimon ben Gurion left the Temple. When they met one another, Nakdimon said to him: Give me the money you owe me for the extra water you received. The official said to him: I know that the Holy One, Blessed be He, has shaken His world and caused rain to fall only for you. However, I still maintain a claim against you, by which I can legally take my coins from you, as you did not pay me on the agreed date, for the sun had already set, and therefore the rain fell onto my property.

Nakdimon went back and entered the Temple, wrapped himself in his prayer shawl, and stood in prayer. He said before God: Master of the Universe, let it be known that You have beloved ones in Your world. Immediately, the clouds scattered, and the sun shined. At that time, the master said to him: If the sun had not broken through the clouds, I would have had a claim against you, by which I could have taken my coins from you.

In the terrible days of the brutal Roman occupation of Eretz Yisrael, Hashem boosted our morale by showing He still loves us. Wealthy Jews such as Nakdimon ben Gurion were our only source of relief from the heavy Roman yoke. Had Nakdimon, in his valiant efforts to help our people perform aliyah l’regel, been shorn of his wealth, it would have dealt a crushing blow to our people.

The great miracle of the Six-Day War, only 22 years after the Shoah, may also be seen as Hashem showing us He still loves us. At a time when it appeared that the sun had set on our people, Hashem shined a new light/ohr chadash on Yerushalayim and the Kotel HaMaaravi to clarify that we remain His beloved.

Neither the Nakdimon-triggered nes nor the Six-Day War solved all our problems. Roman rule continued after the sun broke through in Jerusalem, and the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War followed not so long after the Six-Day War. Nonetheless, we express our gratitude to Hashem for both of these Jerusalem-based miracles for providing a desperately needed reminder that Hashem has “beloved ones in His world.” The fact that multitudes of Jews can, with Hashem’s help, visit and pray at the Kotel HaMa’aravi more than 50 years later continues to broadcast the same message.


Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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