Hacham Yosef Haim Illouz

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yosef Haim Illouz was born to Simcha and Hacham Eliyahu Illouz in Tiberias in 1880. He first studied principally with his father, who immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1874 and settled in the city of Tiberias. In 1890, when his father left to Morocco as emissary of the Tiberias sages, he continued his studies with Hacham Yaakov Hai Zrihan and Hacham Meir Elkyam.

As a young man, between the years of 1899 and 1902, he joined his father in an additional journey to various cities in Morocco and, as his father’s attendant, learned his righteous ways. When he reached adulthood, he married Yocheved, daughter of Hacham Avner Hatzarfati, Rabbi of the city of Fes, Morocco.

When his father was appointed Rabbi of the city of Tiberias and Preisdent of the Rabbinic Court in 1920, Hacham Yosef Haim Illouz served as his right-hand man in all his work. After his father died in 1929, Hacham Yosef Haim Illouz published many of his father's manuscripts, including Devar Torah, Zemirot Israel, Yesh Me'Ain - Responsa, Ma'aseh Eliyahu, and Hilchot Ishut, adding Toldot Eliyahu, the essay written about his father, to them.

In 1932 his wife died.

Hacham Yosef Haim Illouz passed away on 23 Tammuz, 5721 (1961). He authored many books, some of which remain in manuscript form: Yemie Hayay – sermons, Maoz Hayay – on the Bible, To'ameha Haim – Laws and Foundations of the Commandments, Zichronot LeRabbanim – a history of the rabbis of the Land of Israel, from Tiberias in particular, Matzevet Even – a list of the Geonim [rabbinic leaders] buried in Tiberias, Yalkut Yosef – verdicts by various rabbis, and more.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he praises his father, who treated his students as friends while serving as an example to them.

He would devote his entire efforts to teaching them Torah, respect and courtesy, writing and arithmetic, and always comported himself with them in the most gentle and modest of ways. He did not treat them as his students but as his true friends, and went to great lengths for them, repeatedly explaining and reviewing their studies with them. He would strengthen their resolve and spirit without becoming embarrassed when they failed to fully understand something, and would review it with them once and again, until they understood it perfectly. He would neither be strict nor become angry with them, always bearing in mind the words of our sages, of blessed memory, "An impatient person cannot teach". He always encouraged their passion for Torah, using words of morality they found pleasant, and he served as an example to them, saying: Know, my friends and students, that I came from my city as a child with my father, and a short time after I arrived my father died and I was orphaned and left to fend for myself. Only the grace of God and my great passion and zeal for his holy Torah, which I studied day and night, supported me. I was also privileged to marry a rabbi's daughter, and am considered an excelling Torah scholar. Learn from me and do as I do, and you too, with God's help, will succeed.

Toldot Eliyahu, p. 8, Ma'arav Printing, Jerusalem 1933