Hacham Avraham David Shalem

A Short Tribute

Hacham Avraham David Shalem was born to Esther and Hacham David Shalem in Jerusalem on 26 Tevet, 5688 (1928). As a child, Hacham Avraham David Shalem studied at the Mizrahi Talmud Torah. He continued his studies at the Sha'arei Zion yeshiva, founded by Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Chai Uziel in Jerusalem's Nahalat Shiva neighborhood.

Hacham Avraham David Shalem was ordained to the rabbinate and conferred as dayan by Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Chai Uziel, as ritual slaughterer and bodek by Hacham Mordecai Meyuhas, Head of the Jerusalem Sephardi community rabbinic court (Av Beit Din) and as mohel by Hacham Yaakov Sasson.

He joined the Haganah during Israel's War of Independence in 1948. In 1949, Hacham Avraham David Shalem married his cousin Sarah, and they had a son and a daughter. His wife died within three years of their marriage.

In 1950, Hacham Avraham David Shalem complied with Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Chai Uziel's request and relocated to Lima, capitol of Peru, to lead its Jewish community.

Hacham Avraham David Shalem taught and educated to a love of Torah, the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel. He helped organize Jewish life in Lima and took an active part in the United Jewish Appeal. After several years, he moved to Seattle, USA, and served as Rabbi of the Ezra Bessarot synagogue; he later moved to Mexico City, where he served as Rabbi of the Har Sinai congregation.

Hacham Avraham David Shalem returned to Israel in 1977 to head the Or HaMizrach Institute for the publication of ancient manuscripts, the Sephardi Orphanage, and the seminary for avreichim that was established on the facility. During this period, Hacham Avraham David Shalem was also active in the Va'ad Ha'Eda HaSepharadit, and in the Committee for the Publication of Rabbi Uziel's Writings. Hacham Avraham David Shalem maintained his contact with the Jewish communities of Latin America and translated numerous books on Halacha to Spanish.

Hacham Avraham David Shalem passed away on 23 Elul 5774 (2014). His books include Eshed HaNehalim, in three parts – a commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes, Na'ot Desheh – a prayer book for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur according to the Sephardi custom, and a Spanish translation and commentary of the Psalms.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing' in which he teaches that opening one's hand to the poor opens Heaven's treasury to bless his actions
From my heart's musings, I say: The very act of giving charity is, in itself, a blessing. There is no blessing greater than a person who has been granted the privilege of wealth by the Creator and who can help the poor and needy, share his bread with the hungry, and give of his money to revive unfortunate souls. He enacts "and you shall be a blessing". By opening your hand to the poor and needy, you are the one influencing and opening Heaven's treasury to bless all your actions, therein is the blessing.
Eshed Hanechlim, Part 3, p. 266, Raphael Ben Haim Hacohen Press, Jerusalem, 2009
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he teaches to do what is just and right with no discrimination of race, color or religion
"…to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is just and right. The way of God and his faith is a doctrine of doing righteousness and justice. Mere laws and constitutions do not suffice. The human world and its society will bring waste and destruction upon the entire universe unless their wisdom and research are not integrated with justice and charity, truth and equality, and with the right to exist for all those created in the Divine image, with no discrimination of race, color or religion. World repair in the Kingdom of Heaven will be made possible, and the dwellers of the universe and residents of earth will reach this lofty state only by loving their fellow man, protecting his rights and doing what is just and right, "for in these things I delight, declares the LORD".
Eshed Hanechlim, Part 3, p. 112 – 113, Raphael Ben Haim Hacohen Press, Jerusalem, 2009
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he encourages maintaining the custom of gathering at the baby's home on the eve of a circumcision
It is our custom to gather at the baby's home the night preceding the circumcision, and reading from the Lech Lecha portion of the holy Zohar, singing hymns and songs, and praising the Covenant-Maker, who has granted a male child to the parents. Far be it from us to forbid this, and would that this hallowed Jewish custom endure…
We found this hallowed custom in Siach Yaakov, the holy book by our Teacher, the divine kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Alfieh, of blessed memory, a Jerusalem sage and one of the Beit El kabbalists in our mighty city.
Eshed Hanechlim, Part 3, p. 290, Raphael Ben Haim Hacohen Press, Jerusalem, 2009
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he teaches not to prevent a child from studying and to petition the judge to save him from his oppressor
The injustice of it cries out! Have we anything greater than children's Torah study, which must not be annulled - even for the reconstruction of the Temple? Who and where is the person who dares ruin this for a nine year old boy who is ready for schooling, who would hinder his studying and cause him irreversible emotional damage for life?!
It is the sacred duty of the dayanim [rabbinic court judges] to come to the assistance of this unfortunate mother, tossed in a tempest, to save the oppressed from the hold of his oppressor who, alas, only seeks pretexts that will result in disaster. The dayanim must immediately allow her to approach the judge in her city and quickly end this painful problem. They will be well blessed for saving the oppressed from the oppressor's hold, and for fulfilling the commandment 'speak for the speechless'. This little boy who has become a victim of a tyrannical father's intrigues, God help us.
Eshed Hanechlim, Part 3, p. 54, Raphael Ben Haim Hacohen Press, Jerusalem, 2009