Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban

< Tammuz 5784 July 2024 >

A Short Tribute

Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban was born to Amima and Yaacov in Djerba, in 1910. As a youth he learned Torah from Rabbi Mekiketz Shelli (author of Midrasho Shel Shem) and with Hacham Rachamim Chai Hayuta HaCohen (author of Simchat Cohen), who was to be his main teacher. His boyhood friend was Hacham Matzliakh Mazouz (author of Ish Matzliakh).

He married Aiusha, daughter of Aziza, in 1930; they had to overcome much suffering to have their four children.

In 1932, Hacham Kadir Tzaban was appointed Rosh Metivta (head of the yeshiva). In 1939, he became a member of the Beit Din. In 1948, he took on the position of editor of the Hayare'akh Torah studies journal, for which Tunisia's greatest sages wrote. Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban was subsequently appointed Chief Rabbi of the city of Medenine, where he headed the community's religious institutions and public charities, including Or Torah, Bikur Holim, Matan Be'Seter, and the Synagogues Committee, to name a few.

In 1957, Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban immigrated to Israel, where he served as rabbi of the town of Netivot for thirty-eight years. He founded religious institutions and taught throughout the region's settlements. His home was open to all, and he would receive people immediately. Hundreds of letters were delivered to him on a weekly basis, and hundreds of people sought him out; the rabbi received them all with infinite patience.

In 1972, he was appointed President of the Kiseh Rachamim Yeshiva, where hundreds of students trained as teachers. In 1973, he was elected member of the Chief Rabbinate.

Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban was the eldest of the Tunisian sages and considered the supreme authority on religious matters by Israel's Tunisian community. His contribution to the development of Tunisia's religious institutions was beyond measure, and he went to great lengths to have the works of Tunisia's sages from the generations preceding him published.

Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban authored four books, which he dedicated to the memories of his parents and wife: Magid Devrav le'Yaakov – on the Passover Haggadah, Zera' Yaacov (in three volumes) – on the Talmud, and containing renewed Halakhic interpretations of the Shulchan 'Aruch, Nefesh Haya – in memory of his wife – customs and laws in the Shulchan 'Aruch, and Shayarei HaNefesh – a complement of his book Nefesh Haya.

On 4 Kislev, 5755 (1995), following a year of great weakness, Hacham Raphael Kadir Tzaban passed away.

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