Hacham Rakhamim Melamed Hacohen

A Short Tribute

Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen was born in the city of Shiraz, Persia on 25 Elul, 5625 (1865) to his father Rabbi Haim and his mother Tuti Melamed Hacohen. In 1883 he married Bibi-Ma (Esther), daughter of Rabbi Agai and Bagum Katzav.

He began to preach in public while still in his youth and was nicknamed Mullah Kutzik (Little Sage), a name that was to follow him throughout his life. His sermons, in which he would include Halacha, anecdotes, laws, ethics, stories and parables were equated to flowing springs. He would instill a love for Torah and a reverence of Heaven in his ardent listeners with pleasant and fatherly loving words.

In 1906, at the age of 40, he immigrated to the Land of Israel and was among the founders of Jerusalem's Nachalat Zion neighborhood, where he officiated as rabbi of the Persian Jewish community and established the Sha'arei Rachamim yeshiva.

Along with his oral preaching he also authored innovations in Torah study. His published work include: Kiseh Rachamim on the Five Books of Moses, Yeshua ve'Rachamim on Ethics of Our Fathers, Tzeddakah ve'Rachamim on the Five Scrolls, the Hayei Rachamim commentary on the Zohar, and Zichron Rachamim, a book of Midrash written in the Jewish Persian dialect. In the last year of his life he began a book of Midrash on the Psalms.

Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen's outstanding modesty and humility served as an example to his students and followers. The Hacham avoided the privileges that came with his position of authority, and even refused an appointment to the Beit Din. Nevertheless, he dealt with the needs of his community and served as a teacher and poseq. He passed away on 4 Shevat, 5692 (1932) and was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives. At the time of the liberation of Jerusalem, his sons, having said saying that the spirit on his tomb was absent, discovered that his grave had been desecrated by the Jordanians. Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen's books brought him recognition and, as has been said of Rabban Simon Gamliel: "One does not prepare tombstones for the righteous, their words commemorate them."


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he relates the counsel of a rich person who has a miserly approach to the poor
There once was a rich person, a stingy and close-fisted individual, who would not take pity on the poor. He stood in the synagogue and said to the public: Listen to me – all that we pray for, that He should send us the Redeemer – the harvest is over and the summer has passed and we have not yet been redeemed. Here is advice to hasten the Redemption: Stop giving charity to the poor. They will then cry out to God out of their poverty and distress, and the Holy One, blessed be He, will hear their cry and prayers, since a poor man's prayer is desired by God and better accepted, as stated in the holy Zohar concerning the verse "A prayer of the afflicted". The congregation listened to the evil rich man's words, thinking it was sound advice, without recognizing the bad intent that originated in his miserliness. And so the poor remained hungry and thirsty, and a plague was decreed upon that town, heaven preserve us. This is what is meant by "if you should torment him", as a matter of fact, "and My wrath shall be kindled"… so the Holy One, blessed be He, says: Now I will arise in vengeance towards this evil man, and actually hinders redemption, as is stated, "Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness".
Atarath Rakhamim, Commentary the Psalms, Psalm 12, p. 331
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches that a rabbi who takes bribes decrees strife on the People of Israel
A judge who makes rulings faithfully to the truth becomes party to the act of creation, but a judge who takes a bribe and makes a slanted ruling - it is as though he exiled the People of Israel from their land, destroyed the Temple with his own hands, damaged the Name of Shadai, and caused that the klipah [husk, i.e. spiritual obstacle] named RIV [strife] rule Israel. This causes conflict and disputes between man and wife, and between man and his brethren and, Heaven forbid, that the divine Name be desecrated, for those of that generation will say: If judges distort judgement and take bribes, how then are we to act? And none will be able to rebuke them, for if one would say to him, 'remove a splinter from between your teeth', he could say, 'remove a beam from between your eyes'. Bribe is the gematria [alphanumeric value] of Shadai. This is what was meant by "Her rulers judge for gifts": an acronym for R.I.V., that is, instead of RABBI there is the klipah of RIV, and conflict and dispute between the people of Israel.
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Yithro, p.92
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing' in which he teaches that one who is excessive in his meals embarrasses his guest
"And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South" – If one is "going on" – increasingly fulfilling commandments and good deeds in this world, the Holy One blessed be He returns the wealth one gave to charity… but if in "going on" one is decreasing in the fulfilling of commandments and charity, one's wealth is also "going on still towards the South". Just like the son of a pious man who gives the tithe of his field with a poor attitude, subtracting every year: the Holy One, blessed be He, subtracts from his wealth until only a tenth of what he would give is left for him…
Furthermore, concerning one who is hosting guests. If he is "going on" –is excessive in his meal, and eats meat and fowl and fish – the guest becomes embarrassed and does not return to his home again – "going on still". But if he prepares a small meal of rice and beans, and various vegetables, "going", as in "decreasing" – the guest is not as embarrassed and, "going on", returns once again.
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Lech Lecha, p. 14
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he teaches that one who sings at his table gains many things
He who utters poetry and song in a pleasant voice, and composes piyut [liturgical songs] – appropriately – in honor of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who has accomplished miracles and wonders for us, gets to see the countenance of the Redeeming King and Elijah, especially if he sings at his table… and what our rabbis of blessed memory said is known: [the word] zemirot [songs of praise] if from the linguistic form of "pruning", as in "pruning tyrants", so that he may prune all klipot [spiritual obstacles] and sabotage evil angels, and the advocates shall arise, just as when the people of Israel gained passage through the sea to dry land by virtue of the poetry and song they uttered, as it is said "The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation".
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Mishpatim, p. 99
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he teaches that the world is founded on Israel
"In the beginning God created". The last letters form the acronym "truth" [emet]. Since there is truth between the people of Israel, who do not lie to one another and maintain peace between each other – and since they give charity to the poor, and Teruma [contribution] and tithes to the Cohanim and Levites – the world continues to exist, and the Temple will be rebuilt, since the teacher [Tana] said: On three things the world stands: on judgement, on truth, and on peace." Judgement – since it is written "In the beginning God created", which is judgement; truth, according to the last letters of "In the beginning God created" – truth [emet]. Peace is charity, as it is said "and the work of righteousness shall be peace". "Created" in gematria [im hakollel] equals the charity. Donations and tithes are as charity; this is indicated by the acronym 'truth' [emet] formed by "and ye shall bring your tithes".
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Bereishit, p.3
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he teaches that [the people of] Israel received the Torah from their fathers before the revelation at Sinai.
Why did the people Israel say "we will do and obey" before even hearing the Ten Commandments? They should have said we will obey and do. What did they mean? What they actually said was, "We received these words from our fathers. If there is something new – tell us".
How so? "I am the Lord your God". They already believed in His unity, blessed be He, as is said, "and the people believed and obeyed". "Thou shalt have no other gods" – Abraham did not take part in his father Terah's idolatry. "Thou shalt not murder" – Abraham did not kill Isaac on the altar…"Thou shalt not commit adultery" – Joseph did not lie with his master's wife. "Thou shalt not steal" – Jacob did not steal from Laban's house during the twenty years he spent with him…"Thou shalt not bear false witness" – Joseph said, "For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews", and did not say, "I am the son of ministers and deputies". "Thou shalt not take [the name of the LORD thy God in vain]". Judah did not take an oath on the matter of Tamar and said, "She is more righteous than I". "Thou shalt not covet" – Isaac did not kick at his father's feet at the time of the Binding and extended respect to him…"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" – Joseph the Righteous already observed the Sabbath, as it says, "Slaughter an animal and prepare [a meal]", and they say that it was on a Friday.
Kiseh Rachamim – Commentary on the Torah, Parshat Yithro, p. 95 - 96