Hacham Hai Moise di Picciotto

A Short Tribute

Hacham Hai Moise di Picciotto was the son of Hacham Hillel Haim di Picciotto, who immigrated to Aleppo, Syria from Livorno, Italy in 1732.

The di Picciotto family was a very respected and wealthy family that dealt in commerce and supported charitable institutions. Several members of the Picciotto family served as consuls to various European countries - including Italy, Austria and France - because they were European subjects, had excellent reputations and were known for their outstanding characters.

Hacham Hai Moise di Picciotto learned Torah from his father and from other sages. Writing about himself, he testifies that "Until the age of seventeen I was raised among sages and Talmud teachers" and that he studied with private tutors hired by his father "who went to such great lengths to raise me on Torah and worship, and to find me a master and teacher".

By the age of eighteen he had already begun to deal in commerce which, as he mentions in his book, he regretted.

Hacham Hai Moshe di Picciotto married the daughter of Hacham Mordecai Galante, Chief Rabbi of Aleppo. They were renowned as exceptionally warm and generous hosts.

Hacham Hai Moise di Picciotto passed away on 26 Tevet 5576 (1816) in Syria. Some two years before he died, he managed to have his book of ethics and sermons on Genesis and Exodus, VaYachel Moshe, published.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he replies to Maimonides on the matter of Torah scholars who depend on others for their income

Maimonides, of blessed memory, often criticizes Torah scholars who decide to devote their time to Torah rather than to craft, saying that they earn a living from others and, heaven forbid, desecrate God's name and disgrace the Torah, causing harm to themselves and losing their share of the World-to-Come, since it is forbidden to profit from Torah in this world… First, "to make Torah great and glorious". If Torah scholars would not have an income, they could not properly toil at Torah as they should, and Torah would be forgotten…and it is a mitzvah "to make Torah great and glorious". Second, Torah scholars are considered wealthy when their words are heard, in keeping with what is written, "The splendor of the wise is their wealth"… And third, the prohibition applies only to Torah scholars who shirk from their studying in order to indulge in worldly craft. But in the case of a person who sits in yeshiva and teaches Torah to the public, is not idle for any worldly purpose and only fulfills mitzvoth, it is sinful that he not receive from others.

VaYachel Moshe, The Book of Exodus, Mishpatim Reading Portion, p. 19a, Vienna, 1814