Hacham Rakhamim Melamed Hacohen

< Sivan 5784 June 2024 >

A Short Tribute

Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen was born in the city of Shiraz, Persia on 25 Elul, 5625 (1865) to his father Rabbi Haim and his mother Tuti Melamed Hacohen. In 1883 he married Bibi-Ma (Esther), daughter of Rabbi Agai and Bagum Katzav.

He began to preach in public while still in his youth and was nicknamed Mullah Kutzik (Little Sage), a name that was to follow him throughout his life. His sermons, in which he would include Halacha, anecdotes, laws, ethics, stories and parables were equated to flowing springs. He would instill a love for Torah and a reverence of Heaven in his ardent listeners with pleasant and fatherly loving words.

In 1906, at the age of 40, he immigrated to the Land of Israel and was among the founders of Jerusalem's Nachalat Zion neighborhood, where he officiated as rabbi of the Persian Jewish community and established the Sha'arei Rachamim yeshiva.

Along with his oral preaching he also authored innovations in Torah study. His published work include: Kiseh Rachamim on the Five Books of Moses, Yeshua ve'Rachamim on Ethics of Our Fathers, Tzeddakah ve'Rachamim on the Five Scrolls, the Hayei Rachamim commentary on the Zohar, and Zichron Rachamim, a book of Midrash written in the Jewish Persian dialect. In the last year of his life he began a book of Midrash on the Psalms.

Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen's outstanding modesty and humility served as an example to his students and followers. The Hacham avoided the privileges that came with his position of authority, and even refused an appointment to the Beit Din. Nevertheless, he dealt with the needs of his community and served as a teacher and poseq. He passed away on 4 Shevat, 5692 (1932) and was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives. At the time of the liberation of Jerusalem, his sons, having said saying that the spirit on his tomb was absent, discovered that his grave had been desecrated by the Jordanians. Hacham Rachamim Melamed Hacohen's books brought him recognition and, as has been said of Rabban Simon Gamliel: "One does not prepare tombstones for the righteous, their words commemorate them."


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