Ben Ish Chai by Yehuda Azoulay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the first book in English to document the life of Yosef Chaim the Ben Ish Chai. Born in Bahgdad from a line of great Torah sages spanning back several generations, Yosef Chaim known as Rabbenu was the leader of Iraqi Jewry and his opinion was wwell respected beyond the boundaries of that country. Inside Iraq no only was he respected by the Jewish commuinity but he was also revered by the Muslim community of Iraq.
His grandfather Moshe Chaim was a bright student an often times he knew more then the established sages of his day. The arguments becasme so bitter that he ended up going to Basra but greatness could not be ignored the Rabbis of Baghdad once wrote the Rabbis of basra asing them an opinion about the halacha, it was Moshe Chaim who ended up answering the question. It seems Yosef Chaim inheritied his grandfathers brains and study ability.
His father was Eliahu, and he was well known for his charity. He woould travel through the streets of Baghdad giving charity to the poor. THe disguise worked so well that everyone thought that it was Eliyahu Hanavi that was giving the charity. Eliyahu would pass on early leaving Yosef Chaim in a position of leadership at the age of 26. He nver accepted a rabbinical post but setle for teh position of Darshan or preacher. Every Shabbat he would preach in Baghdad's main synagogue. Most of his day was taken up with Torah study.
Yosef Chaim also gave charity. Insted of buying treats for himself he would give it to the poor. When his father found out he would double his son's allowance. Ben Ish Chai was also revived after having fallen into a well by a prayer from his father. Abdullah Somech was Ben Ish Chai's teacher, Ben IOsh Chai also married the scholars daughter. Ben Ish Chai's Torah insight was well known bioth withon and without Iraq. He also performed miracle and foresaw great things.
He had a Kabbalistic book that told everyones sole root. Some people ion Iraq lived prvious Jewish lives as really great people. Most of Ben IOsh Chais works were lost to history but some works still survive. He was also instrumental in establishing the Porat Yosef Yeshiv in Jerusalme. It housed many of his works but was captured and burned by the Joradanians during the 1947 war.
In 1909 he passed away and the Jewish community literally shutdown for a full week. A shutdown honored by the gentile as well. His son and grandson would become Torah giants and community leaders of great stature. His gandson ended up moving to Israel and being buried in Ramat Gan. A real gem for those studying the Mizrachi Torah community.
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