Hacham David Hacohen

A Short Tribute

Hacham David Hacohen was born to Shoshana and Moshe in 1824 in Djerba, Tunisia. He married Camisa, and the couple had two sons.

Hacham David Hacohen was employed as the Djerba governor's secretary and spent every spare moment of his time to study Torah. He would devote the Sabbath, in particular, to learning Torah and on Motsa'ei Shabbat would put his learning and new insights to paper.

Hacham David Hacohen was learned in Talmud and Halakhic innovation, grammar and poetry, mathematics and Arabic, and wrote songs and laments. He officiated as rabbi of the community of a small Djerba neighborhood, for whom he would rule and respond to questions.

Hacham David Hacohen passed away on 21 Kislev 5631 (1870), leaving behind his writings and original commentary, published by his wife and sons after his passing: Misgav LaDach – on Bible and Talmud, Mekom David – sermons, Shirei David – rules of grammar, Shalom DavidHaZa"L texts and sermons.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he likens the hillula [the festive commemoration of a righteous person's death] to a celebratory day that requires a meal, song and study
Lag ba'Omer evening, just like the day, involves an obligation to rejoice, a celebration of Torah, for which ornate lamps are lit. The way to the synagogue is accompanied by a procession of drums, violins and zithers, of poetry and song. Once there, all the books of Zohar and the new Zohar and its amendments are taken out, and the book of Hillula Raba praising the Teacher is studied in a great and splendid assembly; charity is given and pledges made, a festive meal of food and drink laid out, and songs praising God are sung all night.
This is also the case of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess' Hillula on the Second Passover, may his memory preserve us, during which we study the book Meir Bat 'Ayin, distributing the readings of all the mishnayot and learning them together in pleasant and clear language; songs are sung until the light of dawn, and pledges of charity for the elevation of his saintly soul are made. It has become the custom throughout the Jewish world to give charity in his memory. People who find themselves in distress declare "I hereby give charity for the elevation of Rabbi Meir Ba'al Haness' soul", calling "God of Meir, answer me!" three times, and are delivered from their troubles. This has been confirmed by several amazing and miraculous accounts that took place in ancient times as well as in our day.
Shalom David, p. 104, Castro and Friend Publishing, Tunis, 1909