BIOGRAPHY OF THE FAMOUS SAINT, AND MIRACLE WORKER,
RABBI CHAIM PINTO
The Pinto family originated in Portugal, from where they later dispersed to Morocco, the Ottoman Empire, Holland and other lands. Some of the most prominent family-members went to Holland.
In 'Ohalei Yaccov' (by Rabbi Yaacov Castro, Livorno 1783), the author writes in his introduction that the family name was originally "De Pinto".
A distinguished scion of the family was Rabbi Yehosiyahu Pinto, author of the "Rif" commentary on "Ein Yaacov", who lived in Syria. Another branch of the family reached the the Moroccan coast at Tangier. Some later moved there to Marrakesh, gaining renown there as saintly Jewish leaders and miracle-workers.
The youngest son of the family, Rabbi Shlomo, (father of Rabbi Chaim Pinto), married the daughter of the wealthy Rabbi Kalifa Malka, who provided for all hos needs so that he may devote himself entirely to Torah- study, and the service of Hashem. When his father-in-law moved to Agadir for business reasons, Rabbi Shlomo and his wife had to likewise leave to Tangier for Agadir. However, his wife unfortunately passed away there without having borne him any children.
Rabbi Shlomo traveled to Marakkesh where he married a second wife, Hiyuna, from the famous Beneviste family. He returned with her to Agadir where she bore him their renowned (famous) son, Rabbi Chaim Pinto. Rabbi Chaim was only ten years old when his father Rabbi Shlomo passed away. Later that same year, the port of Agadir, source of livelihood for the cities Jewish community, was thus, closed down and the city became impoverished.
A new port was built instead at Mogador, and many Jews were forced to move there, among them the young Rabbi Chaim. The new arrivals would come to hear Torah from the Rabbi of the city, Rabbi Gedalia Yaccov, who also happened to be extremely wealthy. When he noticed Rabbi Chaim among them, he treated him with great honor and directed him to his relative, Rabbi Meir Pinto, who served as Deputy French Consul.
The latter (major) was overjoyed to see him, and arranged for him to study at the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yaacov Bibas. The head of the Mogador Rabbinical court. Soon the young Rabbi Chaim became famed throughout Morocco as an outstanding prodigy and saint, and also for his exceptionally beautiful singing voice.
To this day, many go to pray at his graveside that his soul intercede for Divine mercy in cases of communal or individual needs. His name is mentioned with awe and reverence by both the Jews and Arabs, who all believe faithfully in his great saintliness.
His famed even reached Europe and the Middle East, from where Jews would send their requests to him (and later to his sons) to pray for them. In 1860, when Sir Moses Montefiore (the famous Sefardi benefactor from England) visited Morocco. He came to pray at Rabbi Chaim's synagogue and gave his sons gifts.
His contemporary, Rabbi David Elkalam, was once in Livorno, Italy, where he met the renowned Rabbi Yosef Azulay. The latter gave him three of his numerous printed works to take back with him:
He was to give "Rosh David" to Rabbi David Hazzan. "Chaim Shaal" to Rabbi Chaim Pinto and keep "Simchat Haregel" for himself. As a reward for the bother of walking to them with his 'feet' (Regel in hebrew)! On his return to Mogador, he immediately received a message form Rabbi Chaim Pinto (who apparently had foreknowledged of the gift from afar) to bring him the book right away. "Chaim Sheal," he told him. ("Ask Chaim"), "And your elders will tell you!"
When Rabbi Bibas passed away, he heads of the Mogador communtity begged Rabbi Chaim, together with his colleague (associate) Rabbi David ben Haazan to succeed him. They acceptd, with the consent of Rabbi Shem Tov ben Attar.
Four sons were born to Rabbi Chaim:
Rabbi H'den was a saint and a miracle-worker who constantly sought to do kind deeds. Revered by Jew and Arab alike. They would kiss his hands and clothes wherever he went. He was accustomed each day to distribute to the poor any money he had remaining after essential expenditures for his own family.
The second son, Rabbi Yosef, was also a saintly man, and also had a fine voice. He used to travel to other lands on business trips until once his ship sank and he was only saved by miracle. From then on, he never left Mogador. He only had one son, Shaul, who passed away during his lifetime.
Rabbi Yehoshiyahu was also a holy man and a miracle-worker. In Rabbi Chaim's home was a tiny room, where Rabbi Yehosiyahu would study. He refused to accept gifts from his fellow mortals, and instead would derive his livelihood from a store he owned. On 'Tisha B'Av' (ninth of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year), it would seem as if he were mourning a member of his own family . He would go barefoot, in sackcloth and ashes, to all synagogues of the city and would arouse the entire community to sincere repentance.
Rabbi Yaacov was a quiet man who spent all his time in study. He was known for his prodigious memory. Rabbi Chaim composed several works on Halacha, Aggada, Talmudic study, and Kabbalah, besides religious poetry for inclusion in Shabbat and holiday services. They were never printed and were unfortunately lost during the Franco-Moroccan War of 1840. A few of his Halachic text were preserved in collection of the other great contemporaries with whom he corresponded.
He passed away on 26 Elul, 5605 (1845), and was laid to rest in the old Jewish cemetery in Mogador. Around him are buried other saintly Tzaddikim.
His name became well-known throughout the world. Before he passed away, Rabbi Chaim Pinto gave his son Rabbi H'den his blessing, a blessing to him and all descendents.