Jewish pilgrimage in Morocco #9 : David Ben Yamin, Beni Mellal's saint and his many miracles

Rabbi David Ben Yamin is buried in Beni Mellal with his wife, a female saint called Lalla Kherwi’a. In the small city, he is known for his many miracles and he is venerated by both Jews and Muslims.

The grave of Rabbi David Ben Yamin in Beni Mellal. / Ph. Rabbimap
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Little is known about the saint of Beni Mellal David Ben Yamin, who lies in the city’s synagogue. Few historical accounts know when and where he was born, but many of them share the stories he left behind in the small town that sits at the foot of Jbel Tassemit.

Buried in his synagogue, Rabbi David Ben Yamin, or Ben Yasmin, is believed to be a «descendent of Benjamin the son of the Patriarch Jacob», or Israel who is regarded as a Patriarch of Israelites, wrote Jewish Moroccan Archive in an article entitled «The Extraordinary in Storytelling in Jewish Morocco».

Rabbi Ben Yamin is one of the Jewish saints in Morocco who is not buried alone. Historical accounts suggest that he is one of those sainted couples. According to the book of Issachar Ben-Ami «Saint Veneration Among the Jews in Morocco» (Wayne State University Press, 1998), «Rabbi David Ben Yamin of beni Mellal and his wife Lalla Kherwi’a, who is buried alongside him», are saint couples.

Venerated by the Jewish and the Muslim community, the Rabbi is sometimes called by the name of his wife «Sidi Kherwi’a», the same book recalled.

The saint of the many miracles

Although the details of his life is hard to track, many are the stories that follow the death of the saint. Several accounts make mention of the people that he saved. According to Ben-Ami, a woman was able to save the life of her ill daughter just by making her sleep at the saint’s tomb.

«My mother decided to take me to sleep at the [tomb of the] saint R. David Ben Yamin (…) at night, the saint came to my mother in a dream and told her : Your cure is in the house of the father of your son-in-law», the daughter recalled.

The desperate mother followed the advice of the saint and went to the man that supposedly knew how to deal with her daughter’s sickness. «He knew how to write an [amulet] but, since the death of his son, he had vowed not to have anything with folk medicine», so, he decided to give her another cure.

The man told the mother to get an eggplant, an egg, salt and small scales. «He weighed the salt and the egg and ordered her to put them under my pillow overnight and then to weight which one was heavier», the book narrated. Miraculously, the trick worked and the ill daughter woke up the next morning energized and with a «very hearty appetite».

This was not the only woman who swears by the miracles of the Jewish saint. According to a platform called Diarna, a woman once said that she dreamed of seeing a «seemingly dead man lying beneath a sheet on top of the Rabbi’s gravestone». The woman recalled that «this man told her that he was Ben-Yamin himself, after she inquired into his identity».

Rabbi David Ben Yamin’s hillulah is celebrated on Lag b’Omer, a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. Every year, the Muslim community «would tend to [his] tomb», which was also guarded by Muslims, the same source concluded.

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