Hacham Michael Yaakov Israel

A Short Tribute

Hacham Michael Yaakov Israel, son of Haim Yehuda Michael Israel, was born circa 1790 in Rhodes, which at the time was under Ottoman rule.

Hacham Michael Yaakov Israel studied with Hacham Abraham Halevy, Rabbi of Rhodes. He served as the city's cantor and shochet and at the age of 31, in 1821, began to officiate as Rabbi of Rhodes.

Every year, on 2 Kislev, he would hold a festive celebration for his family to commemorate his rescue from drowning at sea on that date, when he was shipwrecked on his way to Egypt.

In 1853 he immigrated to Israel, settling in Jerusalem where he was made a candidate for the position of Rishon LeZion. He refused the position and was eventually appointed Av Beit Din.

Hacham Michael Yaakov Israel passed away in Jerusalem on 7 Iyar, 5616 (1857) and was eulogized in Jerusalem, Rhodes and Izmir.

His Responsa were published in Yad Yemin, and the sermons he composed in Shnot Yamin.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he teaches to honor our parents in our hearts as one would notables, for their honor dwells principally within our hearts
The principal aspect of honoring parents must be within the heart. One should consider one's parents as the land's notables, so as to ensure avoiding any contempt but, on the contrary, to honor them in one's speech as much as in one's actions. We have already indicated the reason for honoring one's parents, they being the source of our very existence in this world, and also for their pains and the efforts they make on our behalf when we are children, so that it is appropriate not to be unappreciative; one is obliged to honor them. In this way, one is also drawn to recognize the goodness of the Blessed One and to fulfill His commandments and to not be ungrateful. For otherwise, if an individual does not honor his or her father and mother, heaven forbid, is ungrateful and does not acknowledge their goodness towards them, that person may be led to being ungrateful to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it were, and not fulfill His commandments.
Shnot Yamin, Sermon 2 for Shabbat Zachor, p. 155b – 156a, Haim Shaul and Yitzhak Hakim Press, Izmir, 1855