Hacham Avraham Azulai

A Short Tribute

Hacham Avraham Azulai, son of Mordecai, was born in 1570 in Fes, Morocco. As a young man, he studied Torah and Halacha with the sages of Fes. After having studied the riches of the Torah’s explicit wisdom, he began to delve into its concealed aspects.

In 1600, at the age of 30, he immigrated to the Land of Israel. He survived a shipwreck but his writings were all lost. From that time on, he used the shape of a ship as his signature.

Hacham Avraham Azulai settled in the city of Hebron, where he studied and elucidated the RaMaK’s work [Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, HaOr Yakar].

In 1619, following the outbreak of a severe epidemic in Hebron, Hacham Avraham Azulai left for Jerusalem. When the epidemic reached Jerusalem, he left for Gaza and vowed that if he would succeed in returning to Hebron he would have all the original Torah commentary he had written over the years published. When the epidemic subsided, Hacham Avraham Azulai returned to Hebron, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Two daughters and a son – Hacham Yitzhak Azulai, our Master the HIDA’s grandfather, Chaim Yosef David Azulai, succeeded him.

Hacham Avraham Azulai passed away on 24 Cheshvan 5404 (1643) and was buried in Hebron. He wrote down much of his original commentary. Some has remained in manuscript form, and some has been published in the following books: Or HaHama – a concise commentary on the Zohar, Or HaLevana – edits and corrections on the Zohar, Zoharei Hama – a summary of the book Yerach Yakar, Or HaGanuz - the hidden lore of the Torah according to the HA’ARI [Rabbi Isaac Luria], Chessed Le’Avraham – explanations on the Bible, Ahava Ba’Ta’anugim – a commentary on Tractate Avot.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches that the Torah is like a mirror, in which each sees according to his own form

In it will you see…that a person will find that all the wisdom they can imagine or learn already indicated in the Torah, for the Torah is like a pure, natural and shining mirror; it will reflect the beholder's image, whatever shape is placed before it. Such is the Torah, each and every person makes sense of it in keeping with his or her understanding, and sees its image in it. Indeed, the Torah has six hundred thousand interpretations because each one of the six hundred thousand souls received an interpretation of the Torah, according to a literal, allegorical or esoteric meaning. Each soul will interpret Torah in keeping with the interpretation it received, and will find that particular interpretation in Torah, just like a mirror that reflects the shapes of all people, despite that they each have different shapes.

Ahava BaTa'anuguim, Tractate Avot, chapter 5, published by Orot HaHaim, Jerusalem (1987)