Hacham Mordecai Attiah

A Short Tribute

Hacham Mordecai Attiah was born in Aleppo (known then as Aram Tsova), Syria in 1898, and immigrated to Jerusalem with his parents at a young age. In 1920, in the aftermath of the First World War, Hacham Mordecai Attiah fled back to Aleppo, where he married Allegra. The couple had nine children.

He moved to Mexico City with his family in 1922 and began to lead its large community of Aleppo Jews. He had Torah classes, charitable institutions and Talmud Torah schools established and, as a sage and kabbalist, preached intensively of the obligation to settle the Land of Israel. When he reached the point where he felt that living in Mexico was at the expense of his children's education, he decided to return to the Land of Israel.

Hacham Mordecai Attiah arrived in Jerusalem in 1936 with his wife and children. As a result of the riots that took place that year, he found it difficult to earn a livelihood and began to serve as a rabbinic emissary for charitable institutions in Jerusalem. He was in Israel at the time of its War of Independence (1948), and reinforced the spirit of Jerusalem's residents.

Hacham Mordecai Attiah devoted his life to Aliyah and to the settlement of Israel, and would repeatedly point out the duty to recognize and celebrate the miracles that took place when the state was being established, and to offer gratitude for them.

In 1967 Hacham Mordecai Attiah founded the HaHaim VeHaShalom yeshiva in Jerusalem for the study of Kabbala. Hacham Yeshua Ben Soussan and Hacham Shabetai Sabbato were among his students.

Hacham Mordecai Attiah passed away on 14 Tammuz, 5738 (1978) and was buried in Jerusalem's Mount of Olives cemetery.

Hacham Mordecai Attiah wrote a great number of books that all deal with the importance of the Land of Israel, including Lech Lecha, Sod HaShevu'a, Makhshevot Shalom, Makhaseh Ve'Oz, Simchat 'Olam, and Artzot HaHaim.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he teaches that those who believe in the Coming of the Messiah should precede him by coming to the Land of Israel
What good personal qualities have those who make the effort to immigrate to the Land of Israel! The sooner the better, out of honor for the Shechina and to take her out of exile, and also to repair the world [Tikun 'Olam] so that the Messiah might arrive, as it says above, "to prepare his place". Those who are neglectful about immigrating to the Land of Israel, claiming that they await the Messiah's arrival, are mistaken for those who await and believe in his coming must be in Israel. Just like a person awaiting to receive a king, one must be there several hours in advance to find a place, and waiting for a king is part of honoring him. One should not remain at home and let the king arrive and wait for people.
Also, the Messiah will come to gather those Jews who are in remote places – those in remote places are the ones behind the Iron Curtain, or behind the Sambatyon River, or beyond the Mountains of Darkness, but who can say that those living in the lands of freedom and liberty are remote?... On this matter, it says in the Torah that "The hidden things belong to the LORD our God" – this refers to those Jews who live in hidden places such as behind the Iron Curtain and the like…but the "revealed" ones must harken to the voice calling "Go forth from your native land".
Lech Lecha, pp. 30 – 31, HaTehiya Press, Jerusalem, 1963