Hacham Yihya Korach

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yihya Korach, son of Hacham Shalom Korach, one of the more important sages of Yemen, was born in 1840 in Sana'a, Yemen. He as orphaned at an early age. Out of fear that the authorities would kidnap him and convert him to Islam, as they often did with orphans, he was hidden and raised by Meir Yihya Ben Shalom. He studied Torah with Hacham Yoseph Tzalakh.

Hacham Yihya Korach, despite his deep and extensive Torah knowledge, refrained from teaching; he did not even work as a shochet. He earned his livelihood as a scribe, writing Torah scrolls. His wife's name was Nadra, and they had two children, a son and a daughter. Their son, Amram, was born in 1871 and served as rabbi of Yemen's Jewish community until 1951, when the Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel by Operation Eagle Wings.

Hacham Yihya Korach passed away on 20 Av 5641 (1881) and was buried in Sana'a. He authored several works: Maskil Doresh – A mystical approach on the Torah, Marpeh Lashon – an explanation of Onkelos' translation, a commentary on Ethic of Our Fathers, Maskil Shir Yedidut and Maskil 'Al Neginot – on Mori [Master] Shalem Shabazi's poetry. His works were published in the book printed by the Shtilei Zeitim Institute, Maskil Doresh.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he teaches that Abraham did not purchase a plot in the Land of Israel because he was not one of little faith
"Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites, saying, I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you that I may remove my dead for burial." How are we to understand the fact that Abraham waited until his dead lay before him and only then sought a burial plot, and did not foresee the need to prepare a site in advance? In my modest opinion, the reason is because he was not permitted to purchase a site in the Land of Israel so as to fulfill the commandment of being a foreigner. For God had commanded him to be a foreigner in the Land, and not to purchase any of its land, for it had already been given to him in potential and would be bestowed upon him in practice when the time would come. Had he purchased any land there, he would have transgressed what he was commanded and appeared to be of little faith.
Now, however, that Sarah had died, he could purchase the Cave of the Patriarchs (M'earat HaMachpelah) for her, the reason being that "death releases from obligations". Since she had died, she was released from the commandment of being a foreigner and immediately allocated a burial site.
Makil Doresh, Hayei Sarah weekly Torah reading portion, p. 52, Shtilei Zeitim Institute, Bnei Brak, 2005