Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen

A Short Tribute

Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen, son of Hacham Abraham Shlomo Hacohen, was born in 1659 in Izmir, Turkey.

Graced by many outstanding achievements, Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen was highly learned and proficient in Torah and mysticism, and is famous for the sermons and books he left for posterity. Maran HaHID”A testified that “He saved many people from transgression with his sermons, reprimands and persuasive tongue”.

Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen dealt bravely with the affliction of interest (on loans) in Izmir and, in keeping with the Law, had it banned without flinching before local intimidators. He spoke often about charity, which he would collect and distribute to the needy. Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen was also known as a miracle-worker.

His daughter married Hacham Haim Hacohen, whose original commentary is mentioned by Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen in his books. He was surrounded by hardship; his son died suddenly, and Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen spent many longs days in mourning.

Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen passed away on 8 Adar Bet, 5489 (1729) and was buried in Izmir.

Hacham Eliyahu Hacohen authored more than thirty books, including Shevet Mussar – sermons, first published in Constantinople in 1712, and subsequently in scores of editions in several languages: Judeo-Arabic, Ladino and Yiddish; Me’il Tzedek – an anthology of writings on charity, Midrash Talpiot, Eliyahu Zuta, Midrash Haitamari, Dana Pashra, Minhat Eliyahu, Aggadat Eliyahu, Semuchim La’ad, Tehilot Hashem, Azor Eliyau and more.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Redemption of Israel' in which he teaches that the tikun required for the Redemption is the charity done in Diaspora

The People of Israel transgressed on the issue of charity and were exiled, for it says “The faithful city That was filled with justice…They do not judge the case of the orphan, And the widow’s cause never reaches them”. The tikun (repair) required to end the exile is, therefore, charity (tzedakah, that which is just) for it says "Observe what is right and do what is just; For soon My salvation shall come", about which it says, "Pressing forward in His great might". The might of which I speak is the charity done by Israel during the exile, for with it comes My great salvation, for it is with charity that they repaired what was distorted, and they must be redeemed from their exile.

Me'il Tzedakah, Volume 1, section 1034, p. 290, published by Shaarei Yosher Institute, Jerusalem, 1992