Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rabbi Hayyim Benatar (1696 - 1743)

Merja gave me this FDC dated 16.6.1992 commemorating Rabbi Hayyim Benatar who died before reaching the age of 50. During his short lifetime he spent brief periods of time in a number of different countries. He was one of the few Rabbis to whom the people gave the title "The Holy One", and he and his famous book 'Or HaHayyim" ("Light of Life") were widely acclaimed in all the countries of the Jewish Diaspora.
Rabbi Hayyim Benatar was born in the town of Salé in Morocco, where, at the time, the Jews were being persecuted by a despotic ruler. His genius was recognised at an early age, as soon as he began teaching Torah to young people and adults and writing his commentary on a section of the Talmud.  
Rabbi Hayyim wrote his most famous books, which are astounding in their scope and in their depth. He wrote "Hafetz Hashem" on the Talmud, “Pri Toar" on the Code of Jewish Law, "Or HaHayyim" on the Torah and "Rishon Lezion" on the Prophets.  
On his arrival in Jerusalem everyone accepted his authority, recognising his genius and his sanctity. His senior scholars were accepted to his Yeshiva, among them Rabbi Hida who was to write "I have been privileged to have studied at his exalted Yeshiva, and my eyes have seen the greatness of his teaching. A brilliant thinker, a truly saintly person, and though his erudition s known from his writings, this is only a small fraction of his genius and the breadth of his benevolence".
Though he died less then a year after his arrival in Jerusalem, he became a popular legend. His book on the Torah "Light of Life" is a basic book, which includes everything in it: Law and Kabbalah, philosophy and legends, teachings and dialectics. He was known by the title the Holy "Or HaHayyim", being named after his most famous work, for which the Jewish world has always held him in the highest esteem.

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