Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji

< Tammuz 5784 July 2024 >

A Short Tribute


Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji was born to Lea and Mullah Mordecai Garji on 26 Kislev, 5605 (1845) in the city of Herat, Afghanistan. His family fled from Mashad, Iran in 1839, following decrees of forced conversion. In 1853, Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji married. The couple had six boys and four girls. Three of their sons who survived into adulthood also became important and influential rabbis in the community. Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji maintained strict norms of upright behavior and integrity in the community, overseeing Kashruth issues, serving as the charity beadle, distributing donations to the needy, and heading the community's Talmud Torah. In 1896 Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji and his son, Hacham Asher Garji, embarked on a ten-week journey and left Afghanistan to fulfill the commandment of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In 1908 he immigrated to the Land of Israel and established his residence in Jerusalem's Bukharim neighborhood. He was designated Hassida Kadisha (holy righteous one) and hailed as the rabbi of the Afghani and Bukhari communities. 

The travel chronicles that Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji wrote make up a document of great historical value for research of his times, in that they provide detailed descriptions of certain buildings and customs. He personally and, at times, bodily experienced riots, decrees and persecutions that took place in the region of Afghanistan; he also provided extensive descriptions of Afghani Jewry of those times in scholarly and often pained language.

Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji passed away on 14 Kislev, 5678 (1898) at the age of 70, and was buried on the west side of the Mount of Olives.

Hacham Mullah Mattityah Garji's most outstanding book is Oneg LeShabbat – a commentary on the Torah, the Haftarot, and the Five Megillot. The book was published three times, and its last edition appeared in 2010. Two additional works of his are Tehilat David – sermons and interpretations on the Book of Psalms, and Sepher Beit Hamikdash – a commentary on the Mishna.

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