Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin

A Short Tribute

Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin was born in Kushta (Constantinople) in 1787 and immigrated to Jerusalem as a child. In 1842 he was ordained as Hacham Bashi – the first Rishon LeZion (Chief Rabbi) who served in the land of Israel. He was also Head of the Beit EL kabbalist yeshiva in Jerusalem.

In his day, the Samaritans were in danger of extermination, because the Muslim clergy claimed that the Samaritans had no religion and believed in none of the books written by the Holy Spirit. The Samaritans of the city of Nablus, whose lives were in mortal danger, pleaded for Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin's help. Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin gave them a document stating that the Samaritan nation is an offshoot of the nation of Israel and who recognizes the truth of the Torah, and their lives were spared.

Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin authored Mincha Tehora, on Tractate Minchot, which was printed in Salonica in 1835. In 1841 he helped establish a printing press in Jerusalem, where he had two of his books printed: Sefer HaTakanot Ve'HaHasmachot, printed in 1841, one of the first books printed in Jerusalem, and Hukei Haim, printed in 1842. His book of sermons, Haim BiYerushalaim was published after his death, in 1842.

Hacham Haim Abraham Gagin passed away in Jerusalem on 20 Iyar, 5608 (1848), and was buried on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations' in which he teaches that Jacob's most passionate wish was to make peace with Esau

Jacob sent actual angels to Esau! What was his purpose? Messengers would have sufficed. It was to indicate the greatness of peace. That is what the text of the Jerusalem Talmud means, in saying that angels are half fire and half water, and that He who makes peace in His heavens made the angels thus to show that it is best to be at peace. This is what he meant to indicate to Esau, that he be at peace with him…Jacob's most passionate wish was to make peace with Esau. The parable told by our Sages, of blessed memory, is well-known: With what shall I bless you? If with children – these you have; if with wealth – this you have. This explains the difficulty presented by what it says, asking which blessing Jacob required. For he had children, and wealth as well. What did he seek? Peace. This why the Birkat Cohanim says "…and grant you peace", that he might have it with his brother Esau, for that was his passionate wish.

Haim MiYerushalaim, p. 265, Samuel Halevi Zuckerman Press, Jerusalem 1882