Hacham Yaakov Hacohen Tarab

A Short Tribute

Hakham Yaakov Hacohen (Maslaton) Tarab, son of Yoseph, was born in Damascus, Syria. His wife was named Rosa.

Hakham Yaakov Hacohen Tarab became renowned for his devotion to Torah, and was proficient in its explicit and concealed aspects as well as in Halakhic and Aggadic literature. His custom was to rise at midnight to study in Hakham Haim Vital's study house.

Hakham Yaakov Hacohen Tarab officiated as Av Bet Din in Beirut and was known for the sermons he gave on Sabbaths and Festivals.

Hakham Yaakov Hacohen Tarab passed away 22 Tevet, 5682 (1923). He authored the following books: Dvar Tov, Beit Ya'akov – sermons on diverse topics and, following his decease, his descendants published additional manuscripts of his in She'erit Yaakov – sermons and innovations on Maimonides.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he points out hidden meanings in A Song for the Sabbath Day that embellish honoring one's father and mother
"Above the thunder of mighty waters, more majestic than the breakers of the sea is the LORD, majestic on high. Your decrees are indeed enduring; holiness befits Your house, O LORD, for all times." 'Above the thunder of mighty waters' – was meant to say: 'from the voice of Torah'. A notarikon [acronym] for 'from the voice' –from the voice of Torah, that is likened to waters, as has been said: Ho, all who are thirsty, come for water'– can be found in 'more majestic than the breakers of the sea is the LORD, majestic on high' that spells out the [Hebrew] initials of 'my mother and my father', meaning that one honors one's father and mother to merit the World to Come. When is it most fitting and becoming to do so? On the Sabbath day, entitled 'sacredness', and by so doing one also gains the merit of long life.
Dvar Tov, p. 163, Jerusalem, 1914
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing' in which he teaches not to let your inclination chill you on your way to doing charity, and smite the hindmost of thee
…"how, undeterred by fear of God, he met you on the way, when you were famished and weary, and cut down the stragglers in your rear". 'How he met you by the way' hints at the commandment of charity, since it is known that the word 'way' is a term for charity, as Scripture says, ' that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice'. Thus it is always; the more important a commandment, the more does the evil inclination seduce a person to avoid it…
This is what 'how he met you on the way' means – that it chills you on the way, the way referring to the commandment of charity ['met' and 'chill' in Hebrew share the same letters]; he cut down the stragglers in your rear' – 'stragglers' is to be read as those who lag behind in this commandment will be pursued. The entire claim of the evil inclination rests on saying that 'you were famished and weary' – you were made faint and weary for scant earnings, and others will come and to take them with ease.
Dvar Tov, p. 34b, Jerusalem, 1914
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches to submit body and soul in hiring a tutor for children of paupers at one's own expense.
They said "Be careful with [regard to the education of] the sons of paupers as from them Torah will issue forth" – happy are they and happy is their lot. On this basis, every wise person will act judiciously and devote his body and soul to fulfill this commandment and not spare his wealth, and hire a tutor from his own pocket and wealth to teach children of paupers whose fathers lack their own [wealth] and orphaned sons who have no father to plead on their behalf.
Dvar Tov, p. 34b, Jerusalem, 1914
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he teaches that the half shekel is so that the whole person envision that he is comparable to half a person.
"Reish Lakish said: It was manifestly known to the Master of the Universe, that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the People of Israel." We learn a moral reprimand from his words, that announce and inform us that in the People of Israel's moments of grace, when they were called 'sons of God' and 'God's Tribe', we were connected and united as one person, with no distancing between our hearts.
The whole person should not imagine that he lacks nothing, whether because of his wisdom or his wealth, and that he requires no assistance from others, for he is mistaken in such thinking - since he is but half a person and is incomplete without his brethren, the other half.
For this reason, our teachers of blessed memory carry the intention of a blessing with this commandment. It is a loud and clear proclamation, as is written: "On the first of the month of Adar a proclamation is made about the shekalim" – meaning that each one is to give half a shekel, symbolizing unity; in so doing each person will give from the heart, and be inspired to be at peace with his brethren. This is what Reish Lakish meant when he said: "It was revealed and known to the Master of the Universe, that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the People of Israel", meaning, to inform on them about unity, for they are not in unity.
She'erit Yaakov, Sermons, p.35a, Rabbi Haim Zuckerman Press, Jerusalem, 1932
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he hints at the permutation of the letters Torah, Sabbath and unity in redemption
"When you take a census of the Sons of Israel" –Moses said to the Holy One, blessed be he: "How will You raise the value of Israel, by redeeming them from amongst the nations, and restoring original splendor? He said to him: "When you take" – the initials of which spell Torah, Sabbath, unity. By dealing in Torah, observing the Sabbath, and through unity, the three mentioned arrangements of letters will unite and everything will be mended, and Israel will speedily be redeemed in our days, amen.
Dvar Tov, p 30b, Jerusalem, 1914
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he teaches that sounding the charity done on the day of Purim is called holy.
"And it shall be upon Aaron while officiating, so that the sound of it is heard when he comes into the sanctuary before the LORD and when he goes out – that he may not die." The word 'sound' indicates charity, which is the gematria [numerological] equivalent of 'monies'. They also said: 'Three sounds gladden, the sound of Torah, the sound of money, and the sound of rains' – charity given on Purim, in particular, as it reveals Mordecai's inspiration … This is what I indicated in: 'And it shall be' – that spell the letters of the Name [in Hebrew]. When will the Name of God be completed, Israel redeemed and Aaron called upon to officiate? At the time that 'the sound of it is heard' – hinting at the sound of Torah and the sound of money, both of which hasten the redemption… in particular 'when he comes into the sanctuary' - by the charity, which is called holiness, done on Purim day. It also hints that He will be charitable with Torah scholars, who are called holy; therefore it is certainly the case that 'he goes out', for they cause us to leave the exile - 'that he may not die'.
Dvar Tov, p.25b, Jerusalem, 1914