Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz

A Short Tribute

Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz, son of Samuel, was born in 1823 in Sefrou, Morocco. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised in his uncle Hacham Amram Elbaz's home and study house, and was Hacham Amor Abitbol's attendant.

Along with his study of the revealed and hidden aspects of the Torah, Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz also studied mathematics, astronomy and history.

Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz married the daughter of Hacham Abraham Mamman, who apparently was a wealthy man and one of the Sefrou community's prominent members. The couple had no children, and raised an orphaned girl.

At the age of 28, Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz was appointed dayan for financial issues at the Sefrou Rabbinic Court.


Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz composed songs for events and prayers that are sung as the introduction to the piyuttim of the Bakashot. He also served as a preacher and, in order to involve large segments of the public, would often speak in the Sefrou Jewish Arabic dialect. Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz regularly visited the sick in hospital, and welcomed guests in his home.


Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz passed away on 22 Tammuz, 5656 (1896) and was buried in Sefrou. His writings include Halacha Le'Moshe – a book of responsa on the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, Shir Hadash – a book of poetry, 'Arba'a Shomrim – laws and ethics, Darash Moshe – sermons, 'Eden MiKedem and Minei Metika – on Midrash, and books on Halakha dealing with Jewish history, the Hebrew calendar leap year, and general topics.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he teaches that the succession of a Torah scholar is to be based on wisdom and fear of God, and not on age or closeness
If a rabbi dies, and has a son who is a Torah scholar, and his other son's son is a Torah scholar, and the community seeks to appoint one of them in his place, which [of them] has precedence?
It seems to me, in my humble opinion, that concerning royalty or presidency, one cannot appoint two kings to serve under a single crown, and therefore precedence is given to the elder. [This is the case even when] the elder son has fear of God but hasn’t wisdom, and the younger is full of wisdom but not fear of God.
But as concerns other appointments, in which two can share one crown, no precedence is to be given to one son or another, or to a son over a grandson, for if they are worthy of filling their fathers' place, this makes them successors. What has being a son or a grandson to do with it…?
Halacha LeMoshe, Orakh Haim, Section 1, p. 1, Yad Yekutiel Publishing, Jerusalem, 2009