Hacham Mordecai Sigron

A Short Tribute

Hacham Mordecai Sigron was born on 14 Adar, 5653 (1893) to Miriam and Hacham Kamos Sigron on the island of Djerba, Tunisia. His father died when he was a baby and his mother remarried, to Yitzhak Sa'adon. He studied with Hacham Dido HaCohen and Hacham Kalfon Moshe HaCohen.

He began to work as editor of the first journal published in Djerba, Keren David – named after Hacham David HaCohen – in 1915, at the age of 22. His articles and original Torah commentary, which he began writing at the age of 20, were among those published in the journal. Following the advice of his teacher, Hacham Kalfon Moshe HaCohen, he moved to the city of Madanin, in the south of Tunisia, where he assisted the city's rabbi, Hacham Kamos Haddad. When the city's rabbi died, he replaced him and served as its rabbi, cantor, preacher and teacher.

During the Second World War, in 1943, the city of Madanin was shelled and devastated. Many of the townspeople, including Hacham Mordecai Sigron, fled to Djerba. A few months later, on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, Hacham Mordecai Sigron moved to the city of Tataouine, also in the south of Tunisia, to serve as the city's rabbi and Halachic adjudicator. It was while serving as leader of this community that he wrote most of his books.

He immigrated to Israel in 1956, and was appointed rabbi of the Zimrat moshav, located in the southern Negev. He is reported to have said, towards the end of his life, that his having been privileged to immigrate to the Land of Israel was the principal event of his life, and that each additional day of life was but a gift.

Hacham Mordecai Sigron published a series of books of his Torah commentary and sermons during his lifetime. Additional books of his were published after his death. His writings include Divrei Mordecai – on the Torah, in two volumes; Ma'amar Mordecai – innovations in Talmudic interpretation, Gedulat Mordecai – monthly sermons, Za'akat Mordecai – sermons for eulogies, and VaYeshev Mordecai­ – Responsa on the four parts of the Shulchan Aruch.

Hacham Mordecai Sigron died from severe illness on 1 Av, 5729 (1969) and was buried in Tiberias.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel'
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he explains that those excluded from Torah are to be counted so that they may return to their ancestral roots.

"Take a census of the Gershonites also, by their ancestral house and by their clans." This can be interpreted in keeping with what our Sages, of blessed memory, said: Flattering the wicked can be a good deed, for it makes them repent; otherwise they add crime to their sinning. Do as Hillel did, "Love people and bring them close to Torah". This is what is meant by "take a census of the Gershonites". They, who are wicked and excluded themselves from the Torah and its commandments, must be counted, for in this way they may return to their ancestral roots, and comport themselves as Jews and with fear of God, as did their fathers of origin, Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

Divrei Mordecai, p. 6b, Idan, Cohen & Tzabban Printing, Djerba (1945)