Hacham Yitzhak Nissim

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yitzhak Nissim was born in Baghdad in 1896 on the First night of Hanukkah. He immigrated to the Land of Israel with his family in 1908, at the age of twelve. Eight years later, Hacham Yitzhak Nissim returned to Baghdad, where he married and began his studies. He is considered one of Iraq’s greatest sages yet, despite his being called Hacham Nissim, refused all official appointments. He immigrated to Israel in 1925 with his spouse Victoria, where his home became a meeting place for Torah scholars. He was renowned for the broad scope of his vision and general knowledge, and sought out from afar for advice on halakhic issues and matters of community leadership. His library of religious books is remarkable in its category.

In 1955, he was appointed Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel. Upon entering the position, his unique and independent approach to most matters in his domain became immediately apparent. He sought out dialogue and friendly relations with all levels of society. His visits to kibbutzim and Israeli towns, his trips abroad to the Jewish communities, his approach, conversations and wonderful ability to explain the outlook of Judaism attracted those who were distant from the fold and contributed to increasing mutual understanding. 

Following the Six Day War, as President of the Great Rabbinic Court, he had the court moved to the Hall of Hewn Stones, the historic location of the Sanhedrin during the Second Temple Period.  Hacham Yitzhak Nissim remained in his role for eighteen years, until 1973. On midday of Tish'a B’Av, the date of the Temple’s destruction, in the year 5741 (1981), he passed away. His main book is the Yein HaTov Responsa.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he says that peace is the only consolation in the rebuilding of Jerusalem

The entire nation must liberate itself and apply its strength for the actualization of the historic meaning of redeeming the Land since the Six Day War. Jerusalem and much of the Land’s areas liberated a year ago, where there are more ruins than there are buildings and Jews are not a majority, have yet to be built. Jerusalem is the Eternal City, the City of Peace. Our Sages, in their holy inspiration, said that when the exiles gather in Jerusalem, peace will come to the nation and to the entire world. These are their words: The Holy One, blessed be He, will not console Jerusalem and the People of Israel, as it says, “And my nation will reside in a peaceful abode only in peace”. The time will come when all the world’s nations will also recognize the importance of building Jerusalem and gathering all her sons within her for eternal peace.

LeDor Ule’Dorot, Part 1 – Articles and Speeches following the Six Day War, p. 38, Yad HaRav Nissim, 1973