Hacham Haim David Halevy

A Short Tribute

Hacham Haim David Halevy was born in Jerusalem's Ohel Moshe neighborhood to Victoria Kracow and Moshe, who emigrated from Turkey to the Land of Israel. As a child he studied Torah at the Orach Haim Talmud Torah with Hacham Ezra Hadaya. He continued his studies at the Porat Yosef yeshiva, along with Hacham Ovadia Yosef, Hacham David Haim Shlush, Hacham Zion Levi and Hacham Ben Zion Abba Shaul. He was ordained to the rabbinate in 1948 by Hacham Ezra Attiah, and subsequently by the yeshiva president, Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel. He completed his teacher training at the HaMizrachi Teacher Training Seminary concurrently with his yeshiva studies.

During Israel's 1948 War of Independence Hacham Haim David Halevy served in the Tuvia yeshiva student battalion. He married Miriam Ouaknine in 1949, after the war ended, and was appointed as rabbi of Jerusalem's Lifta and Romema neighborhoods. He also officiated as Rosh Metifta at the Shaarei Zion yeshiva and served as Secretary to Rishon LeZion Hacham Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel.

In 1951 he was appointed Rabbi of the city of Rishon LeZion. In 1964 he was elected to the Chief Rabbinic Council as its youngest member; in 1973 he was appointed Chief Head of the Rabbinic Courts and Rabbi of Tel Aviv – Yaffo.

Hacham Haim David Halevy regularly gave Torah classes to laypeople. These classes form the basis of his book Mekor HaHaim HaShalem, the first volume of which was published in 1967 and the last in 1974. A year later, the section of the book entitled Kitsur Shulchan AruchMekor HaHaim, was published and then chosen as the principal textbook for Halakha in state religious schools. In 1997 he was awarded the Israel Prize for Torah Literature.

Hacham Haim David Halevy passed away on 12 Adar, 5758 (1998), and was buried in Jerusalem's Har HaMenuhot cemetery.

He authored numerous books, including Bein Israel La'Amim, Mekor Haim – on the weekly Torah Readings, Devar HaMishpat – Maimonides' Halakhot on the Sanhedrin, Netzach Israel – Jewish thought on the Torah, 'Aseh Lekha Rav and Ma'im Haim, both collections of his Responsa.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he instructs to fulfill commandments with non-Jews, not only "because of peaceful ways"

The laws of foreign worship no longer apply to the non-Jewish nations. Therefore, even were "Israel to have a mighty hand" we would not be obliged, in any sense whatsoever, to treat the nations of our day according to the laws applying to idolatry. In all that concerns the relations between Jews and non-Jews, both in Israel and abroad, this means that these relations are not to be maintained only "because of peaceful ways", but because by Halachic definition they no longer engage in foreign worship. Therefore, ensuring their livelihood, visiting their sick, burying their dead, and comforting the mourners among them are all to be done out of moral obligation.

'Aseh Lecha Rav, Part 9, question 30, p. 73, The Committee for the Publication of HaGaon Rav Haim David Halevy, Tel Aviv, 1986