Hacham Frija (Yeshua) Zoaretz

A Short Tribute

Hacham Frija (Yeshua) Zoaretz was born in 1907, in Tripoli, Libya. While still a child in Tzla [the Talmud Torah of Libyan Jews] he exhibited a phenomenal memory and was a highly talented pupil. When he was 17 years of age, his father placed him in the Yagdil Torah school where he studied with Hacham Kamos Nachaisi.

In 1928, at the age of 21, Hacham Frija Zoaretz was sent by the Tripoli rabbinate to officiate as rabbi of the city of Homs, where he also served as cantor, shochet, halakhic adjudicator and Hebrew teacher. While still in Homs, as well as after his return to Tripoli, he composed songs of longing for the Land of Israel and love of Zion which he instilled in his pupils along with Hebrew language. Hacham Frija Zoaretz helped the Jewish Agency bring Jews to Israel. Because of his close ties with residents in Israel, Hacham Frija Zoaretz was accused of espionage in 1940 and sentenced to two years imprisonment in the Libyan desert.

Hacham Frija Zoaretz was able to immigrate to the Land of Israel in 1949 and was placed with his siblings in the Shevut maabara [transit camp] in Beit Lied, where he worked as a teacher and later as a school principal. Many people in Israel and abroad depended on him as their authority on halakhic questions. He authored numerous books: The Jews of Libya, Anshei Emunah, Se'u Zimra, and others. Most of his literary work dealt with the life, customs and heritage of the Jewish Libyan community.

Hacham Frija Zoaretz was active in the Hapoel Mizrachi movement and was one of the founders of the Libyan Communities Committee, which later became one of the founding bodies of the National Religious party. He was elected to the 3rd Knesset in 1955 as a member of the National Religious party.

At the age of 83 he was granted the National Religious Party Honorary Award. He founded the yeshiva named after Hacham Abraham Haim Adadishaya, one of the great sages of Libya, the reestablishment in Israel of the Adadi yeshiva in Tripoli.

Hacham Frija Zoaretz passed away on 9 Iyar, 5743 (1993). After his death, the Adnei Paz Talmud Torah was founded in Netanya's Shikun Vatikim neighborhood in his commemoration; a street in Shikun Vatikim bears his name.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he recounts the custom of the righteous Jewish women of Libya who would collect money for the Rachel Imeinu Fund every New Moon
There were a few women in Tripoli, the capital, and from the nearby provincial towns who maintained the Rachel Imeinu Fund, the proceeds of which were designated for the renowned Sephardi yeshivot of Jerusalem. It was principally women who donated to this fund…Some of the women who had these charity boxes would go from house to house on the eve of every New Moon to collect donations for Rachel Imeinu and were, of course, graciously received; each woman donated in keeping with her ability.
The privilege of being a Rachel Imeinu member was justly considered a great privilege that was not under any conditions to be relinquished, by neither the aged nor the infirm, and neither the winter rains nor the harsh summer weather could prevent these fundraisers from going out. And so we would see aged women bent with age, who walked with great difficulty, making a supreme effort and going out every eve of the New Moon to fulfill this good deed that required hours of tiring walking from house to house…
The blessings given to the donors by the fundraisers to the effect that the righteousness of Rachel Imeinu protect and preserve them and their entire families were often exceeded by those given to the fundraising women by the donors - for having accorded them the privilege of fulfilling their pledges and being party to supporting Torah scholars in the Holy Land …
Hochmot Nashim, p.9, The Libyan Communities Committee in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1981