Hacham David Haim Yitzhak Hacohen Tennoudji

A Short Tribute

Hacham David Haim Yitzhak Hacohen Tennoudji, born in Tunisia, is also known as Rabbi Houdja Cohen Magdoura.

His mother died in the throes of childbirth and was buried with him still in her womb. A Jew, passing by the cemetery, heard the sounds of a baby's crying coming from the fresh grave. He rushed to dig up the grave and found the baby within it. He removed him immediately and brought him to a nursemaid, who raised him to become Hacham David Haim Yitzhak Hacohen Tennoudji. He was nicknamed Magdoura, which means "betrayed", because his mother, betrayed by time, caused him to be buried by accident.

He learned Torah from Hacham Joseph Zarka and Hacham Yitzhak Taieb, and was appointed dayan in Hacham Yitzhak Taieb's rabbinic court in 1801, though he is already mentioned several times in Hacham Yaakov Fitoussi's book, Brit 'Eqev, dated 1800. His signature appears on his approbations of books by prominent Tunisian rabbis, from Eshel Abraham by Hacham Abraham Hayout, published in 1816, to Yerech Yaakov, written by Hacham Yaakov Fitoussi and published in 1839.

Hacham David Haim Yitzhak Hacohen Tannoudji was known to be well-versed in alchemy and knowledgeable about miracles. He authored several books of which only Torat HaMelech was published. His book mentions other writings, which have apparently been lost, including Brit Ve'edotav, Petach BeKad, Gviato BaTarshish – on the Torah, Hamat Hamelech – sermons, Eimat Hamelech and Shomer Torah; Bigdei Shesh – on Tractate Avot; Ma'adanei Melech and Yemei Melech – collections of sermons.


Hacham David Haim Yitzhak Hacohen Tannoudji passed away on 1 Sivan, 5607 (1847).


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he teaches that Esau required a blessing because he had no Torah to his credit

Why did Isaac think he had to bless Esau more than he did Jacob? One can hardly even consider that he hated Jacob, heaven forbid… Isaac knew that Jacob occupied himself with Torah study, and did not require a blessing, for Torah rises upward and adds to one's credit. The reason he did not want to bless him was because it wasn't necessary, and so that he would not depend on his blessing and shirk from Torah learning; this was not the case with Esau, who had no Torah learning and therefore did require a blessing.

Torat HaMelech, Sermon 11, p.6, printed by Yitzhak Ben Shalom Haddad, Idan, Cohen and Tzabban Press, Djerba, 1945