Rabbi Meir Nissim (Michel) Abehsera, an acclaimed author and counselor on macrobiotic food and health whose open heart and home influenced thousands to return to Jewish tradition, passed away on June 6 in Jerusalem after a long illness. He was 80 years old.

Born in Morocco—a scion of the Abuchatziera family, famed for spawning successive generations of Kabbalists, Torah scholars and miracle-workers—Meir Nissim Abehsera relocated with his family to France at the age of 10. There, he became a successful civil engineer, but his heart’s passion was in writing and literature.

While in France, Rabbi Abehsera became involved in an emerging field of healing through macrobiotics, teaching that a balanced diet of nutritious, unprocessed food is key to good health.

Following that path, in the early 1960s, the ambitious writer moved to New York and opened the first macrobiotic restaurant in New York City. During the next decade, Abehsera published eight books and became a sought-after lecturer nationwide.

Through his contact with the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—and his emissaries, Abehsera adopted a religious lifestyle. Subsequently, he would go on to teach and influence countless others. He and his wife, Esther, had an open home, where thousands would come for advice, nourishment and direction.

In some circles, he was best known as the champion of macrobiotics.

Among Chassidim, Abehsera was famed for having the distinction of being the “Rebbe’s whistler,” often asked by the Rebbe to whistle during Chassidic gatherings and during the singing, when the Rebbe would distribute wine after holidays.

The Rebbe encouraging Abehsera to whistle.
The Rebbe encouraging Abehsera to whistle.

In his book, The Possible Man, Abehsera recalls that he had come to the Rebbe with many questions about Judaism in 1971, when the Rebbe first asked him to whistle.

“I entered an unknown dimension as I blew my first whistle. The first blow was timid, but I quickly grew more self-assured and went at it as forcefully as I could. Others soon joined until we were hundreds whistling. The air caught fire with the resonance of the piercing sounds. My lower lip ached from blisters. But the Rebbe would not let me pause. He was taking the matter quite seriously.

“He called for still more energy as I, in my abruptly unbound imagination, envisioned thick threatening black clouds shattering into dust. We discomfited darkness with our collective breath. Minds were swept clean of all indoctrination, and I knew my guest was being purged of his folly. Every sweet seduction murmured from the other side was blown away by the stiff wind we had summoned. Fallacious arguments flew away like frightened bats as we toned the walls of our hearts to prepare for an all-out war—fairly fought, wind against wind—challenging those irrational emotions that pose as thought, but whose essence is only wind. We alienated every gaseous enemy and incurred no casualties; not even the singers hurt their throats as they sang background to our breath.

“Our final blast took off like the plaintive calls of a ram’s horn. I was thinking of this as a folly ordained, a rehearsal for redemption, when the Rebbe paused.”

Rabbi Abehsera is survived by his wife and seven children. Shiva will be observed at the Abhesera home, Rechov Rashbag 5, in the Katamonim section of Jerusalem.