Hacham Shalom Amar

A Short Tribute

Hacham Shalom Amar was born to Rivka and Hacham Shmuel on 16 Kislev 5622 (1862) in Meknes, Morocco. He began his studies with his father, who introduced him to Halakhic ruling and instruction methods as well as to poetry and language arts. His first studied Talmud with Hacham Abraham Halahmi. Hacham Shalom Amar married Simcha Assaduri and they had six children. He joined the Meknes yeshiva, where Hacham Shlomo Birdugo, Hacham Haim Morguine and Hacham Haim Birdugo studied. A deep friendship developed between Hacham Sholmo Birdugo and him, and they studied together in chavruta on a daily basis.

In 1889, Hacham Raphael Birdugo's book, Mishpatim Yesharim, was published in Meknes. Hacham Shalom Amar wrote the book's introduction, making his unique and flowery writing style public. He composed many piyuttim and became famous for his poetry.

In 1890, after his father died, Hacham Shalom Amar was appointed as a rabbi and dayan in his city. Because of the city's poor people's dire situation, he sought to add a tax on meat. He convened a large gathering in support of the city's poor in 1894 and succeeded in passing an amendment to that effect.

Hacham Shalom Amar became famous for his love of the Land of Israel. He wrote letters to Baron Rothschild, asking him to help the city's residents who wanted to immigrate to the Land of Israel to work there in agriculture.

Early in 5658 (September 1897), Hacham Shalom Amar dreamt that his days were numbered. He did all he could to defer his fate, distributing his money to charity, holding vigils of Torah study and reading Psalms, and tried to immigrate to the Land of Israel.

Hacham Shalom Amar passed away on 22 Tishrei, 5658 (1897) at the young age of 37 and was buried in the Meknes cemetery.

His descendants gathered his Torah scholarly work, along with his father's and his son's commentaries, and had them published in Divrei Shalom VeEmet – Responsa, sermons and original commentary on the Bible.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he cautions on the issue of mutual respect, it being the foundation upon which everything depends

"The Sages taught: When Rabbi Eliezer fell ill, his students entered to visit him. They said to him: Teach us paths of life and we will thereby merit the life of the World-to-Come. He said: Be vigilant of the honor of your fellow persons…" He had the city's leadership and Torah scholars before him, and said, "Be vigilant in the honor of your fellow persons", for this is a foundation upon which everything depends – to always care for others, and maintain their honor, and fend off whatever may harm them… whether by protecting them from shame and scorn, or by leading them to charity and saving them from destitution. And when rebuking someone, one is to take care not to embarrass them; there are many similar issues to consider in maintaining the respect of our fellow persons.

Divrei Shalom VeEmet, p. 222 – 223, Ahavat Yerushalaim Co. Publishing, Jerusalem, 2000