Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani


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A Short Tribute

Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani, son of Salman, was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1881. Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani's family was so impoverished that he did not study in a Talmud Torah, and as a child did not know how to read or write. In 1893, when he was 12 years old, he attended a group reading of Psalms, and felt ashamed that he did not know how to read. He went to the Talmud Torah and requested that he be taught, but the teacher, noting that he was relatively older than the other pupils and did not know how to read, appointed him to supervise younger children. Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani did not give up, and turned to another Talmud Torah that agreed to have him join younger children's classes. Within a year's time he had learned how to read and could find his way in Biblical texts. Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani returned to the group reading of Psalms and, to the astonishment of the teacher from the first Talmud Torah, participated in the reading.

In 1896 he began to study at the Beit Zalicha yeshiva with Hacham Moshe Tzedakah and Hacham Yoseph Haim, author of the Ben Ish Chai. He was Hacham Yoseph Haim's attendant and learned manuscript scribing, ritual slaughtering and circumcision from him; he also transcribed Hacham Yoseph Haim's responsa. Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani earned a living from commerce, and not from Torah study.

After his marriage, Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani was sent to head the yeshiva at Ezra the Scribe's tomb, next to the city of Basra, Iraq. He returned to Baghdad after two years' time to teach in a Talmud Torah.

Between 1924 and 1925 he officiated as rabbi of the Jewish Iraqi communities in China, India and Singapore. In 1948 he was invited to serve as rabbi in the cities of Abadan and Mahmara in Iranian Kurdistan. In 1950, Hacham Menasheh Shaharabani left his rabbinic position in Iran and immigrated to Israel, where he settled in Ramat Gan. Among his many students one counts Hacham Salman Hugi Aboudi, Hacham Yehoshua Moshe and Hacham Yaakov Mutsafi.

Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani passed away on 28 Av, 5720 (1960) and was buried in Ramat Gan.

Hacham Menasheh Salman Shaharabani composed piyuttim and wrote commentary on the Bible and various books. Two collections of piyuttim have been published: Shirot V'Tishbechot and Shira La'El, as well as a commentary on the Passover Haggadah.

 

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