Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol

A Short Tribute

Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol, son of Yitzhak, was born in 1739 in Sefrou, Morocco. As a youth, he learned Torah from his father, Hacham Yitzhak Abitbol, one of the city's sages, and from Hacham Aaron Azikri, who would later ordain him as a dayan. As an adult, he studied in Hacham Eliyahu Hatzarfati's yeshiva in Fes. Hacham Eliyahu Hatzarfati came to Sefrou often, and Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol considered him his main teacher.

Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol served as his community's shochet for a time and was also an expert circumciser - over five thousand names of boys he brought into Abraham's covenant appear in his diary.

In 1763 Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol was ordained to the rabbinate and began to head the Atazzi yeshiva. Several of his students are known: Hacham Abraham Atzinni, Hacham Shlomo Abitbol and Hacham Yehuda Elbaz. The three were ordained to the rabbinate by him and the first two served alongside him in the rabbinic court.

Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol was a sharp and witty author. He wrote original commentary on Torah, Talmud, Halakha and HaZa"L sayings, and copied numerous books of Moroccan sages who preceded him. He had an extensive and rich library of his own and would generously lend his books to scholars.

Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol married Jamilla and the couple had four children: Hacham Raphael, Hacham Yosef, Hacham Abraham and Rebecca. He remarried after his wife died and the new couple had a son they named Shlomo.

Hacham Shaul Yeshua Abitbol passed away on 25 Elul 5669 (1809). His books include Avnei Sha'ish and Avnei Kodesh, both collections of responsa.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he rules that contracts made in non-Jewish courts of law are valid
Maimonides does not require that there be testimony that they did not accept bribes, but simply that they not be known to have accepted bribes. The meaning of what Maimonides and MaRa"N, who copies his words, say is straightforward: those who are not known to accept bribes, meaning that they are not publicly known as such. But the plain approach is to validate, for courts of law do not accept bribes…Therefore, one seeking to be precise about what Maimonides has to say will rule that he does not invalidate any courts except those that are publicly known to accept bribes; contracts made by those that are not publicly known as such are to be validated. On such as basis, we can generally say that, as a rule, courts do not accept bribes.
Avnei Sha'ish, Volume 2, Section 12, p. 31, Orot Yahadut HaMaghreb Press, Lod 2011