Hacham Moshe Idan

A Short Tribute

Hacham Moshe Idan, son of Hacham Khalifa Idan, was born on the island of Djerba in 1842. As a young man, he earned his livelihood from the craft of weaving and would place his book on the loom and study Torah while working. Hacham Moshe Idan married 'Azalla Haddad.

Hacham Moshe Idan learned the lore of Kabbala from kabbalist Hacham Sasson Parsaido, author of the book Shemen Shushan. Whether or not Hacham Moshe Idan immigrated to Israel to study with him, or when he may have done so remains a mystery.

Hacham Moshe Idan was appointed rabbi and dayan in the city of Gabès, Tunisia, where he wrote his books, that deal principally with the hidden aspects of Torah. Hacham Moshe Idan was also proficient in grammar and poetry.

Hacham Moshe Idan's sons filled prominent positions in Tunisia's Jewish community and in Djerba, in particular. Hacham Nissim Idan was active throughout Tunisia and officiated as rabbi and dayan in the city of Kirouan. Hacham David Idan founded the Idan-Tzabban Press, the first publishing firm on the island of Djerba. The publishing firm was a technological innovation for the rabbis and Jewish scholars on the island. Books, written principally on religious matters, had previously been printed in external publishing houses. Hacham Machluf Idan officiated as rabbi and Torah teacher for the island's Little Quarter.

Hacham Moshe Idan passed away on 5 Elul 5654 (1894). He is the author of several books: Hag HaPesach – on the Passover Haggadah, Yad Moshe - on the Book of Proverbs, Zechut Moshe – on the Torah, Tipheret Moshe – sermons and original commentary on direct and mystical interpretations, and Magen Avot – on the 18 chapters according to the Kabbala.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he delves into the topic of humility
"Israel encamped there in front of the mountain, and Moses went up to God" (Exodus, 19:2). As our Sages, of blessed memory said on "Israel encamped there", they became as a single person, in single unity and by so doing, were granted the privilege of receiving the Torah. It also says that Moses was granted the privilege of receiving the Torah uniquely because of his humility. This explains the Tanah's intended meaning in "Moses received the Torah from Sinai"; it means that Moses chose Sinai because of its humble [proportions], and also out being humble himself. This is also what is meant by "Israel encamped there" - in front of the humble mountain. Also, Israel were in single unity, which could only be attained through humility, which is why they were granted the privilege of receiving the Torah.
Torat Moshe, p. 63, published by the Organization of Djerba Jews in Israel, Bnei Brak, 1994