Hacham Eliyahu Yitzhak Hazan

A Short Tribute

Hacham Eliyahu Yitzhak Hazan was born in Baghdad. In 1906 he began to officiate as rabbi of Hong Kong's Bavli [Iraqui) community. In 1920, he moved to Shanghai to officiate as rabbi of its Bavli community. In 1930 he had the privilege of immigrating to Israel, and settled in Jerusalem.

Hacham Eliyahu Yitzhak Hazan passed away on 1 Nissan, 5698 (1938) and was buried on the Mount of Olives.

His known writings have been published in Yad Eliyahu, a series of books of Responsa that also include piyutim and excerpts from the Zohar from Maimonides' introduction to the Mishna.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he teaches to recognize the merit of penitents [ba'alei teshuva], because they restore the letter Aleph in the Name
In the Mishna, they said: "In the place where penitents stand, the completely righteous do not stand." But truly, to be precise; the righteous person who dealt in Torah and commandments all his life and did not partake in the pleasures of this world, which is, to be sure, vanity, has great merit in the next world…So how can one who has been a penitent for but part of his life be preferable?
Because they have been remorseful, and distanced themselves from transgression, and completely repented their reward shall be great - in this world and in the next. For it is known that penitents who, in their senselessness, had acted sinfully, detach the last letter Aleph of the Name by sinning. When they do atone, have the merit of returning the last Aleph in the blessed Name of glory and awe. Their value therefore increases and their penance is accepted above.
This is what is said in the verse "he shall repay the principal amount and add a fifth part to it" referring to "wherein he was remiss about sacred things". Meaning to say, if one has sinned with some transgression and separated the letter Aleph from the Name blessed be, 'he shall repay the principal amount" – he should do penance, and will have the privilege of restoring the letter Aleph to that honored and sacred Name.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, question 75, p. 100b – 102a, Zion Press, Jerusalem, 1930
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches that not even a Halachic matter should be recounted during the Torah Reading
A question concerning the Haftarah. What we read from the Prophets on Sabbaths and Festivals following the Torah Reading that we call the Haftarah – what reason is there to call it the Haftarah and not Prophets? – Inform us, and be recompensed by heaven…
One reason, attributed to Rabbeinu Tam, of blessed memory, that concerning the reading of these sections we say, 'Once the Torah scroll has been opened, it is forbidden to recount even a Halachic matter', follows what has been said: 'And when it was opened the entire nation stood'. Following the Torah Reading they are permitted to talk…
So despite what Maran Beit Yosef, of blessed memory, wrote in the name of our Rabbi Yerucham, of blessed memory, who wrote that it is forbidden to speak during the Haftarah reading of the Prophets before its conclusion, just as in the case of the Torah Scroll, since fulfilling the commandment depends not only on the reader but on all those present… it appears seems that generally speaking it is considered to be forbidden, but from the purely Halachic point of view it is permitted. Which is not the case for the Torah scroll, where even a Torah matter is forbidden. And this is simple.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, question 25, p. 25a-25b, Zion Press, Jerusalem, 1930
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he strengthens having faith and instructs to not be weak of heart but to pray for mercy, even when one is left unanswered
Psalms 27: "Look to the LORD; be strong and of good courage! O look to the LORD!" Question. Having said Look to the LORD', why does he go on to say 'O look to the LORD'? Once would suffice, it being known that His mercy is great, as has been said: "The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him" - He who waits for Him will be fully blessed, goodness will not be withheld from those who are wholehearted, why is repetition necessary? Inform us, and be recompensed by heaven.
The verse repeats a second and third times so as to instruct us in strengthening our faith in God. Should a person be in distress, may this not occur, and request God's mercy yet remain unanswered, he should not be weak of heart and avoid requesting mercy again, but should return, a second and third time, and ask for God's mercy, and place his faith in God above…
This verse also teaches about the redemption, may it arrive speedily in our day amen, that even after the exile's length we will at long last be remembered before Him, blessed be He, who will hasten the redemption in our day amen, as He promised us in our holy Torah: "then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and take you back in love ", and several powerful promises by his servants, the prophets. Our faith in G-d, blessed be He, remains strong, and He will fulfill his promise and redeem us to eternal redemption speedily in our days, amen.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, question 66, p. 84a – 84b, Zion Press, Jerusalem, 1930
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he replies that even a boy of thirteen and a day is worthy of praying at the teiva
In places where there is no shaliach tzibbur worthy of leading the congregation in prayer and there are youths of thirteen or fourteen years of age, is it permitted for them to lead the congregation to fulfill the public's obligation in kaddish and kedusha, so that the congregation do not avoid [the obligation of] public worship? Instruct us, and be recompensed by heaven.
Know that a youth of thirteen and a day, even if the last day is a Sabbath and he has not yet worn phylacteries, is considered a grown man, and may be called to the Torah Reading, read the Torah and pray as shaliach tzibbur. This will not be asked of him before he wears phylacteries, has come of age, and has two hairs and is considered an adult for all matters.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, Question 27, p. 26a-b, Shemesh David Torah Library, Jerusalem, 1992
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he permits replacing the olive oil Ner Tamid lamp with an electric lamp
Concerning the Ner Tamid that is customarily lit in synagogues using olive oil or other kosher lighting oils, new things have arrived of late. A certain rabbi has come here, an Ashkenazi who became a rabbi in Shanghai, may God protect it, and instructed to take down the Ner Tamid and to light an electric one in its place, for its light is powerful and also because in all British regions they have the custom of lighting [with] electricity instead of olive oil. They ask whether doing so is permitted, for it is known that the Torah said: "that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually" – while electricity comes from the earth and can be called neither oil nor lamp…
It is shown by the words of the Shulchan Aruch that the obligation in synagogues is not olive oil in particular, since he wrote: It is the custom to light lamps to honor them. End quote. He did not write that there is an obligation to enhance the mitzvah by using olive oil. Concerning the Sabbath light he did write about enhancing the mitzvah [by using] olive oil.
Therefore, if it is difficult for them to light with olive oil and their intent is to honor the synagogue by illuminating it well with electricity, one should not protest if they act thus. And God, blessed be He, will illuminate our eyes with His Torah, amen.
Yad Eliyahu, Part A, Introduction, p. 9b, Shemesh David Torah Library, Jerusalem, 1992