Choni Hameagel was a Jewish Sage living in the 1st century BCE during the leadership of the last three sets of Zugot. When drought came upon the land, Choni drew a circle and vowed he would not step out until Hashem answered his prayers for rain. When his request was answered but Choni kept on redefining it, he was almost placed in excommunication by Shimon ben Shetach, were it not for his special relationship with Hashem.
During the war between the Hasmonean brothers, Choni Hameageal was captured by followers of Hyrcanus who demanded that he pray for the death of their opponent Aristobulus. When Choni refused, they stoned him, leaving him for dead. Choni Hameagel survived the incident and wondered off, soon falling into a deep sleep that lasted 70 years. When Choni awoke, no one believed his story. Not having any Torah scholars of his caliber left to study with, Choni Hameagel asked Hashem to take him away from this world.
Once the entire month of Adar had passed and still no rain came. Messengers were sent to Choni Hamgel asking him to pray for rain. When Choni prayed and no rain came, he proceeded to draw a large circle in the dust of the ground with his staff. He then stood in middle of the circle and similar to what had been done by the prophet Chavakuk, he swore in Hashem's great name that since his sons had approached him considering him to have inside connections, he would not leave the circle until Hashem had mercy on them and it began to rain.
It began to trickle rain, his students turned to him and beseeched him to save the nation from death, saying the trickle of rain only descended to absolve his oath. Choni reissued his petition saying; "This is not what I requested, rather rain that will fill wells, pools and caves". It began to poor rain, each drop could fill the opening of a barrel. His students once again improved him saying the rain would destroy the world.
Choni once again turned to Hashem saying; "I have not requested this but rather rain of good will and blessing". Normal rain began to descend but it continued to rain on and on, until everyone had evacuate to the high Temple Mount due to the flooding. They one again sent to Choni; "Rebbe, just like you prayed and rain came down, pray that the rain should go away". Choni responded that he had a tradition that one should not pray for the removal of too much blessing. Despite this he agreed and said they should bring him an Ox which he could later offer as a thanks giving sacrifice. Choni rested his hands on the head of the ox they brought him and said "Master of the universe, your Nation Yisroel that you took out of Egypt can not survive both with an overabundance of blessing and an overabundance of suffering. When you got angry at them they could not survive. When you gave them an abundance of good they could not survive. May it be your will that the rain should stop and their should be ease in the world". Immediately the clouds broke apart and the sun came out.
Upon hearing the story Shimon ben Shetach wanted to put Choni in excommunication as he spoke disrespectfully to Hashem. He sent Choni a message saying he would have placed him in Cherm but what could he do that Hashem listens to him like a father listens to his son.
Choni Hameagel was descendent of the original Choni Hameagel that slept for 70 years throughout the destruction of the First Temple and the following Babylonian exile, awaking just in time to find the first Jews returning to Eretz Yisroel.
Choni Hameagel's had two grandchildren both respected Sages who were also known for their ability to pray for rain. Aba Chilkia was a son of Choni's son and Chanan Hanecheba was the son of Choni's daughter.
Kever Choni Hamagel
Choni Hameagel is buried in the city of Chatzor, Northern Israel. His actual grave is in the cave section of the tomb. Since the actual cave is kept locked most of the time, a Tziyun was built in the outside room where people can come and pray. There is an opinion that his two grandchildren Abba Chilkia and Chanan Hanecheba are buried with him in the cave. However most sources disagree and place them either in a cave at the foot of the hill or on top of the nearby mountain. During years of drought, prayers are carried out at Kever Choni Hamagel to beseech Hashem for rain.
Outside the kever is building containing a Kollel, Mikva and boys Cheder.
Hillula of Choni Hamagel
The created Yortzite of of Choni Hameagel is on 5th of Iyyar. on this day Chatzor locals come to the Kever to celebrate the Hillulah.