Hacham Maimon Benatar

A Short Tribute

Hacham Maimon Benatar was born to Mas’ouda and Hacham Yosef in 1866 in Meknes, Morocco.

He attended Hacham Shlomo Toledano’s Talmud Torah and continued his studies at Hacham Shlomo Ben Amara’s yeshiva. In 1884, at the age of 18, he and his family set out for the Land of Israel. After facing many setbacks and hardships, Hacham Maimon Benatar and his family reached Alexandria, Egypt, and settled there.

In Alexandria, Hacham Maimon Benatar and his brother, Hacham Yaakov, opened a Talmud Torah for the city’s children where the children of the rich and the poor studied together. In addition to Hebrew studies, for which Hacham Maimon Benatar wrote the textbooks himself, children were taught English and French. In 1891, Hacham Maimon Benatar began teaching religious studies at the community’s school. He had a good voice and got along well with people, and in 1907 began to serve as cantor at the Great Synagogue of Alexandria. In 1925 he was appointed dayan at the city’s rabbinic court.

Hacham Maimon Benatar founded the Gemilut Hassadim charity that handled all the needs of mourners during their seven-day shiva mourning period. He also founded the Bikur Holim institution that took care of the health needs of the poor. He had religious articles and Tefillin brought from the Land of Israel, and prepared boys for their Bar Mitzvahs; he gave generously to the poor.

In 1954 he succeeded in immigrating to Israel.

Hacham Maimon Benatar passed away on 27 Tevet, 5718 (1958) and was buried in Sha’arei Menasheh.

He left several manuscripts behind, including a commentary on the entire Bible. His grandson, Rabbi Moshe Avidan, had some of the writings on the Five Books of Moses printed and published under the title Ta’amei HaMikra.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he teaches that the non-Jews' possession is temporary, for it will not be sold for ever

“The land shall not be sold for ever”. The Holy One, blessed be He, promised us that the Holy Land, our forefathers’ legacy, will not be sold and not be handed over to the nations of the world for ever. Even if the People of Israel transgress and are exiled, the Land will nevertheless remain in their name and they will, ultimately, return to it, so that its possession by non-Jews is but temporary.

Ta’amei HaMikra, Leviticus, BeHar Reading Portion, Chapter 25 verse 23, p. 197. Printed by Ma’or HaGalil, Hatzor Glilit, Second Edition, 1976