A Short Tribute
Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi, known as Sabba D'Mishpatim [Grandfather of Laws] was born in Tripoli, Libya, in 1801. He was orphaned at a young age and educated in Torah values by his grandfather, Hacham Nathan Addadi, known for his books Meorei Natan and Hoq Natan. He immigrated to the Land of Israel with his grandfather in 1818 and settled in the city of Safed. His grandfather died that same year, and Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi was left in Safed on his own. He continued his Torah studies at Hacham Yosef Caro's yeshiva, was ordained to the rabbinate, went on to teach and served in the rabbinic court.
In 1830 he was appointed Safed's rabbinic emissary for several Jewish communities, including Egypt, Iraq, Persia, Morocco and Tunisia. In 1837, as part of his role as rabbinic emissary, he spent a period of time in Tripoli, the city of his birth, during which a severe earthquake destroyed Safed and killed many of its residents. Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi, forced to remain in Tripoli, officiated as rabbi and rosh yeshiva, and headed its rabbinic court.
Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi's study house held a large number of books by halakhic adjudicators and served as a house of prayer as well as community center, where he would give sermons on social occasions and principally on Sabbaths and festivals. Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi served as his community's judge, cultivated religious life and improved the level of education in the community. He made amendments and worked alongside Hacham Shalom Tito, the community president, in sustaining Torah scholars and needy people. He was appointed special overseer for the needs of the poor and established a 5% tax on merchants for the community poor fund. The fund also served to pay teachers for the children of impoverished families.
Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi returned to the Land of Israel after 30 years, and took some of its earth back to Tripoli, the city of his birth. At the age of 70, in 1870, he immigrated to the Land of Israel for the fourth time, with his wife and son. He passed away four years later, on 28 Sivan 5634 (1874) and was buried in the Yeshivat Rabbanim section of the Safed cemetery.
In his will, he asked that he be given only the title "Hacham" and donated his home to the community, stipulating that one room serve for a synagogue and the other, filled with books, serve as a meeting and study place for Torah scholars.
Hacham Abraham Haim Addadi wrote several books that were published in Livorno, Italy. They reflect his great Torah knowledge and his expertise in writings by the earlier and latter sages [Rishonim and Aharonim], as well as the pains he took to research the customs of the communities in which he was active. His books contain rare documentation of the customs of Tripoli's Jewish community in Libya and of the lives and customs of the Jews of Safed before and after the Great Earthquake of 1837. A partial list includes HaShomer Emet – halakhot on Torah scrolls, that also contains HaKuntras Ha'aharon – responsa, published in 1849 in Livorno, and Va'Yikra Abraham – on the four sections of the Shulchan 'Aruch, which contains Sdeh Megaresh – on divorce and Yosef L'Emor – research on Jewish Libyan customs, published in 1865, Livorno.