Hacham Zion Sofer

A Short Tribute

Hacham Zion Sofer was born to Rivka and Kamos in 1885, in Djerba, Tunisia.

He began his Torah study with Hacham Yosef Berrebi and, as his Torah learning increased, studied with his friend, Hacham Mordecai Amayess Hacohen, who was chief head of Djerba's rabbinic courts, and corresponded with Hacham David Catorza, who would become Chief Rabbi of Tunisia.

Hacham Zion Sofer worked for a living and devoted himself to Torah study every spare moment he had. His manuscripts contain original commentary on Talmud and Bible, as well as sermons and writings on ethics and norms, translated to Judeo-Arabic dialect.

Hacham Zion Sofer married 'Azailla Saadon, Hacham Boguid Hai Saadon's sister, and the couple had two sons and two daughters born to them. One daughter, Kamssana, died in 1930, while her parents were still living, and the second, Shalvia, died in 1937, two months after her father. Their sons, Hacham Eliyahu Sofer and Hacham Abraham Sofer, gathered their fathers' writings and, with the help of Hacham Boguid Hai Saadon, had them published after his death in a book entitled Neve Zion.

Hacham Zion sofer passed away on 29 Shevat, 5697 (1937) and was buried in Djerba.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' in which he teaches that people approaching sanctity or studying Torah must strengthen themselves by giving charity
When a person approaches sanctity or studies Torah in depth must strengthen him or herself even more, and make the effort to give charity. For charity opens the fountains of wisdom; just as one thus opens the eyes of the poor so does the way to wisdom open.
We can, in this way, understand what is written in the text, "Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you". We know the Torah is called "land", in keeping with the text "Her measure is beyond land". This is what "Justice, justice shall you pursue" means – to give more charity, for in this way we will benefit and "inherit the land" – land being Torah wisdom. In this way, we also learn the intention behind the text " Look to the LORD and keep to His way, and He will raise you high that you may inherit the land;" which refers to giving charity. Just as the merciful and compassionate LORD has mercy on His creatures, you must safeguard His ways as well and have mercy on the poverty-stricken…as it says Scripture, "And all your children shall be disciples of the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children" – our sages, of blessed memory said that charity is called peace.
Neve Zion, Part 2, section 90, Charity. David Saadon Press, Djerba, 1942