Friday, November 19, 2021


Solica HaTzaddika

In all of Fez, and some say, even from one end of the Maghreb to the other, there was no beauty to match Solica Hatchouel. Her father, Shlomo, supported her family through selling house utensils. He worked hard, with integrity. Salica's mother and sisters, as herself, were all modest and G-d fearing. Salica, especially, stood out for her wisdom and goodness, and her graceful, Jewish charisma, beaming from her face.

Not far from her house lived the Muslim families, some of whom belonged to the elite circle of government authorities. One young man, from these families, noticed Salica, the Jew. Awestruck by her charm, her charisma, he resolved to marry her, to take her as a wife. As he matured, and the time came for him to choose a wife, he informed his father of his fervent desire to betroth Solica. "I will have nothing to live for, father, if I don't marry Solica," he told his father. The father kindly accepted his son's requests, and was certain that Solica's father would be delighted if she were to marry into an honorable, rich family as his. Of course, Solica would have to abandon her faith, and convert to Islam, in order for the marriage to occur. But neither the son nor father saw any problem with this.

Now, this boy's father was a distinguished man, many say it was a the King's son. Normally, his requests and desired were fulfilled on demand, immediately, without fail. So when Shlomo, Solica's father, outright refused to agree to the marriage, he was thunder stricken! He desired to fulfill his son's will, regardless of all obstacles. Outraged, his honour soiled, he sought revenge.... "You shall see," said he to Shlomo, "that Solica, your daughter, will marry my son, for the good - or for the bad..." Adamant, Shlomo turned his back, ignoring this altogether.

As expected, but a few days afterwards, Shlomo and his family heard knocking on the door. "We come to take Solica, in the name of the Law!" The authorities, indeed sought to arrest and prosecute Solica, for they had been informed, by a certain rich and distinguished Arab, that Solica had converted to Islam, but then returned to her heritage, her Jewish faith.... The authorities ransacked the house, searching for Solica. To their surprise, she was not to be found!

For, reacting to rumors that the authorities sought her arrest, she escaped to a nearby town, retreating into hiding with relatives.

The authorities were clever, and would not back down so easily. So, they arrested Solica's mother, as a hostage, until Solica would appear, and hand herself over for prosecution. When Solica heard of this, she immediately returned to the city, for the sake of her mother's freedom.

Upon handing herself over to the authorities, they arrested and imprisoned her. A few days later, she appeared in court, for judgment. "How dare you convert to our faith, then abandon it," roared the prosecution. All the Jews of the community, her family, her friends - they trembled at the aggressiveness, the recklessness of the prosecution. They dreaded the probable verdict...
But Solica did not fear. She remained firm and strong, outwardly demonstrating her will and determination, before the judges and prosecution. She proudly maintained, "Never, never did I leave my faith. I never became a Muslim, and I never, ever will! I was born a Jew, and thus shall I die!"

Nevertheless, the judges, heeded the lies of the prosecution, listening to their accursed lies. The prosecution "proved" that she had converted to the Islamic faith, but then returned to her heritage, the faith of her ancestors, Judaism. The judges declared the verdict...

The guards, with cruelty and viciousness, imprisoned Solica. Meanwhile, messengers from the wealthy Muslim families came to influence her heart. Even so, isolated in a dreadful cell, Solica refused to listen. They promised her riches, wealth, prosperity - all the good in the world, but in vain. Solica would not give in.

The leaders of the Jewish community, finally, came to her, begging that she convert, and marry the Arab. Otherwise, they pleaded, the entire community would suffer. Still, she remained strong. The pleading was to no avail. Finally, the prison guards were sent to her, to brutalize and torture her, to forcefully persuade her to abandon her faith, convert, and marry the Arab. "I cannot betray my G-d, the G-d of my ancestors, the G-d of the Universe." The torture, the brute force, the terror - this, too, was to no avail. The prison guards even forcefully brought the Jewish leaders, once again; under force, her own leaders commanded her to convert, and marry the Muslim. She refused, outright. Solica remained strong, in her heart, in her mind, and would not betray her faith.

A Rabbi visited Solika in her cell and told her the tale of Esther the Queen who married Achasverus (Axaverxes), the Emperor of Persia and saved the Jews from a Holocaust of great dimension. She was barely fifteen. Solika listened to the Rabbi and said: 'It is true that Esther married Achasverus but she did not have to give up her faith and I cannot give up my faith! The Rabbi blessed Solica.

Solica was sentenced to be tied up to a horse in chains and dragged in the streets for everyone to see, till she dies. She was given one last wish. She asked for 10 safety pins. They gave her the 10 safety pins and she used it to make sure that her skirt won't go upwards while being dragged. She wanted to die dressed modestly.

In the last few moments of her life, the Muslim boy approached her - the very cause of her misfortune, the cause of her sorrow and torture. He whispered, "Please, Solica, my love, listen to me. Please, this is your last opportunity. You can be saved, Solica, saved from death. You don't even have to become Muslim, Solica. Just pretend to, outwardly. Just marry me, please. I don't desire your death, your harm. Faith is of no importance to me..." But Solica turned her head, refusing to so much as acknowledge him.

In the last seconds of her life, bound in chains, she called out. The Muslim boy was sure she changed her mind and is ready to convert. Blood was running all over her, and in a small whisper asked for 10 more safety pins. Her clothing got torn and was not modestly covered. She took the 10 safety pins and threaded the remains of her clothes to her skin.

Solica screamed the ancient cry of the Jewish martyr: "Shema Yisrael - Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One!" She was 15 years old. This happend about 160 years ago.

Solica sanctified the name of Hashem in her life, and even more, in her death.

Solica is buried at the Fez cemetery, Morocco, near the graves of two very famous Moroccan Rabbis, Rabbi Yehuda ben Atar (Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh's father) and Rabbi Avner Hasaphatim. She merited to be buried next to these great Tzaddikim because she made a tremendous Kiddush HaShem.

These three graves are secluded from the others, and according to tradition, with good reason - The Divine Presence dwells there, says tradition. We also know, from tradition, that those who visit the graves, praying to G-d on the merit of the beloved deceased who rest there, are likely to have their prayers answered.

"A woman of worth, who can find? For her price is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).
May the merit of Solica HaTzaddika protect us all, Amen.