Hacham Abraham Belaish

< Sivan 5784 June 2024 >

A Short Tribute

Hacham Abraham Belaish, son of Shalom, was born on 18 Av, 5533 (1773) in Tunis, capital of Tunisia. He was raised in the Grana community, whose members originate from Livorno, and was the student of Hacham Shlomo bar David Malach, Hacham Shmuel Moshe HaCohen, Hacham Yaakiv Abukaya and Hacham Shlomo David; he was ordained by them to the rabbinate. He married Naomi, and the couple had three children: Shlomo, Rachel Aria and Devorah Ventura.

Hacham Abraham Belaish came from a privileged background. He was a familiar figure in the home of Hamuda Bey, the city's governor, and served as his treasurer. All this was to be of no avail when his luck turned. In 1808 he was forced to flee from Tunis penniless, as a result of the riots that took place in the city against its governor and in which the property of the city's foreign citizens, its Jews and Christians, was plundered.

In 1810 Hacham Abraham Belaish reached the Land of Israel. He settled in Jerusalem, where he lived in great poverty. In 1817 he left on a rabbinic mission to Europe. King Vittorio Emmanuele the First, ruler of Sardinia, was among those who made his journey a success. Hacham Abraham Belaish reached Nice, France, where he served as the Jewish community's rabbi for some twenty years. In 1840 he moved to London, where he served as the Portuguese community's rabbi.

Hacham Abraham Belaish passed away in 1853. The precise date of his demise remains unknown, and is commemorated on the 7th of Adar, the anniversary of Moses' passing, in keeping with the tradition that the souls of all Jewish sages emanate from Moses.

A partial list of Hacham Abraham Belaish's numerous published works includes: Tevou'at Yeqev – on Torah and Talmud, Aharit le'Ish Shalom – a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, 'Afrot Tevel – on Ecclesiastes, Petach HaBayit – a collection of sermons, Be'er Le'Hai Ro'i – on ethics, Yad Avshalom – on HaTor Orach Haim and also contains Responsa, Revah VeHatzalla – poems. He also composed prayers, sermons and poems that were published separately in honor of the country's monarchs and ministers. His work has been translated to French, Italian and German.

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