Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed

A Short Tribute

Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed, son of Hacham Rachamim Melamed, was born in 1904 in Shiraz, Persia.

He acquired his love of Torah from his father, with whom he first studied. His father, author of Kiseh Rachamim, was a distinguished preacher who immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1906, where he became the leader of its Persian Jewish community. A year later, Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed and his mother immigrated to the Land of Israel as well.

Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed studied at the Doresh Zion Talmud Torah and then at the Zion and Aperion yeshivot. After completing his yeshiva studies, he turned to Jewish Studies in academic institutions and was one of the Hebrew University Jewish Studies department's first students. He obtained his doctorate in 1941 and, in 1964, was appointed professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He devoted his entire life to teaching, whether at the elementary school level in the Doresh Zion Talmud Torah that he had attended or in various colleges and universities. He was a faculty member in several departments: the Department of Talmud at Tel Aviv University, the Department of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University and, because of his extensive knowledge of languages, was also a member and research fellow at Israel's Academy of the Hebrew Language.

Alongside his work as a teacher and lecturer in various institutions, Hacham Ezra Zion Rachamim Melamed was deeply involved in charity and in community work as the leader of Israel's Persian Jewish community. He regularly gave sermons to the members of his community in Jerusalem's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood synagogues and at the Shaarei Rachamim yeshiva founded by his father.

Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed was awarded several prizes for his work, including the Yakir Yerushalaim Honorary Citizen Award, the Tchernichovsky Award, the David Yellin College Prize, and the Israel Prize for Bible Commentary and Torah Literature.

Hacham Ezra Zion Melamed passed away in 1994, at the ripe age of 94, and was buried in Jerusalem. He authored scores of articles and books, including Pirkei Halakha U'Minhag, Mepharshei HaMikra, Pirkei Mavo LeSifrut HaTalmud, Misrashei HaTana'im and many others. He published works by his colleagues and by Professor Rabbi Yaakov Nachum Halevy Epstein, his teacher, and created dictionaries to serve Talmud scholars, such as his Aramaic – Hebrew dictionary.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing' in which he teaches not to sit down for the Sabbath dinner without having first cared for the local poor
Until recently, mizrachi communities maintained soup kitchen funds.
As a child, I knew an old beadle (whose name was Agabebe ben Yitzhak Shemesh) who would go from door to door on Friday afternoons, collecting bread and cooked food for distribution in Jerusalem's poor neighborhoods. He would deliver what he collected to the poorest families and to those with many children.
When the World War broke out in 1914, this custom was halted and, for some reason, has never resumed. I am acquainted with several mizrachi families who, to this day, do not sit for their Sabbath Eve meal before their mothers have delivered some foods and bread to the poor of their neighborhood.
Pirkei Minhag VeHalakha, p. 68, Kiryat Sefer Publishing, Jerusalem, 1960