Hacham Yosef Berrebi

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yosef Berrebi, son of Maori, was born in 1851 in Djerba. He was Hacham Sassi Cohen Yonatan's student and served as a dayan. He is often considered as Djerba's greatest Torah teacher, and most of the rabbis from Djerba and its surroundings of his period can be counted among his students, including Hacham Mordecai Amias Hacohen, Hacham Tzion Cohen Yonatan, and Hacham Khalfon Moshe Hacohen. Hacham Khalfon, writing about him in his book, Pakad Moshe, said that "Were it not for him, Torah would have been forgotten by the Jewish people".

Hacham Yosef Berrebi married three times yet had no children, which caused him great sorrow. In 1913, during his lifetime, his students published his book Yelidei Yosef. The book is in three parts, deals with ethics, and includes a selection of his sermons.

Hacham Yosef Berrebi passed away on 7 Tishrei 5679 (1919) in Djerba, where he was lain to rest. His book, Ben Porat Yosef, in three parts, which deals with renewed interpretations of the Bible, the six book of Mishna and responsa, was published after his death.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he teaches that the principal life story of the righteous consists of that which finds favor with God
The fact that the verses "Noah found favor with the Lord" and "Noah was a righteous man" are adjacent to each other, according to RASHI, of blessed memory, shows us that the principal life story of righteous people is their fulfilling of commandments and good deeds.
That is the intent behind the adjacency of "Noah found favor with the Lord" and "Noah was a righteous man". Meaning, that what pleased the Lord through his Torah, fulfillment of commandments and good deeds are, in themselves, the life story of Noah.
Ben Porat Yosef, p. 2. Published by Maatuk Di Yaakv Bashiri and David 'Idan, Djerba, 1924