Hacham Moshe Alshich Hakadosh

A Short Tribute

Hacham Moshe Alshich Hakadosh (the Holy), son of Hacham Haim, was born in 1507 in Adrianople, Turkey (Edirne of today). He began studying Torah with Maran Yosef Caro. He then moved to Salonica, where he studied Torah with Hacham Joseph Titatzak. In 1535 he was able to immigrate to Israel. He settled in the city of Safed, where he served as a halakhic adjudicator and dayan. After his teacher, Maran Joseph Caro, moved to Safed, he became his companion, even signing in his stead in his later years.

Hacham Moshe Alshich stood at the helm of two Safed yeshivot where he taught Talmud, but his principal and unique ability was in homiletics. Many came to hear him preach, even the Saintly HAAR"I, his contemporary, who praised Hacham Moshe Alshich's sermons as faithfully pointing to the truth. When Hacham Moshe Alshich sought to attend the Saintly HAAR"I's classes, however, he was not allowed to enter and told that his foundations and teachings were in homiletics, not in mysticism.

In 1587 he was forced to leave for Damascus, possibly because of the severe epidemic that struck the Land of Israel at the time. In 1590, at over eighty years of age, he left for Turkey, Persia and Syria as a rabbinic emissary.

Hacham Moshe Alshich Hakadosh passed away on 13 Nissan, 5360 (1600) in Damascus, and was buried in the old cemetery of Safed.

Hacham Moshe Alshich authored numerous works, principally of commentary and homiletics: Torat Moshe – on the Torah, Mar'ot HaTzov'ot – on the early Prophets, commentary on the Five Scrolls, Daniel, Proverbs the Book of Job and Psalms; Yarim Moshe – a commentary on Tractate Avot, Responsa and a commentary on the Passover Haggadah.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches that one's grasp of Torah is one's "tikun" and passion

Some have a passion for Torah, some for justice and some for charity; it is likewise for all commandments. There are differences also among those who learn Torah: Some have a passion for Torah, some for Mishna, some for Talmud, some for the Aggada and some for the Merkava. In what does each differ from the other? We know the following from our teachers, of blessed memory: All souls that are to reach this world unto the end of generations were present at Mount Sinai. Each and every soul of the nation of Israel has its own grasp of Torah, one from the aspect of a certain commandment, one from another, and this logic applies to them all. For each one of them, this is what provides their tikun (repair) and their place in the World-to-Come… the Tanah means to say: It is not difficult for any person to obtain the World-to-Come; just as a city appears to have many, innumerable paths, each one will lead to it. Thus it is with a righteous person, whatever the person grasps will lead them to the World-to-Come, each one according to their spirit's penchant, and according to what arouses their passion in this world, which leads to their place in the World-to-Come.

Yarim Moshe on Tractate Avot, p. 15 – 16, Wagschell Publishing, Jerusalem, 2012