Rabbi Yosef Hayyim (Ben Ish Chai)


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About The Rabbi

Rabbi Yosef Hayyim zt”l (Ben Ish Chai) (1 September 1835 – 30 August 1909) (Iraqi Hebrew: Yoseph Ḥayyim; Hebrew: יוסף חיים מבגדאד) was a leading Baghdadi hakham (Sephardi rabbi), authority on halakha (Jewish law), and Master Kabbalist.

He initially studied in his father’s library, and, at the age of 10, he left midrash (“school room”) and began to study with his uncle, Rav David Hai Ben Meir who later founded the Shoshanim LeDavid Yeshiva in Jerusalem. In 1851, he married Rachel, the sister of Hakham Ovadia Somekh, his prime mentor. They had a daughter and two sons together.

Rabbi Yosef Hayyim zt”l (Ben Ish Chai) clashed with the reformist Bavarian Jewish scholar Jacob Obermeyer who lived in Baghdad from 1869 to 1880, and excommunicated him. Part of the contention was due to Obermeyer and Hayim’s conflicting views on promotion of the Zohar.

The Ben Ish Hai is a standard reference in some Sephardi homes (functioning as “a Sephardi Kitzur Shulchan Aruch”) and is widely studied in Sephardi yeshivot. Due to the popularity of this book, Hakham Yosef Hayim came to be known as “Ben Ish Hai”, by which he is referred to by many today.

The book is a collection of homilies he gave over two years discussing the weekly Torah portion. Each chapter begins with a mystical discussion, usually explaining how a Kabbalistic interpretation of a certain verse relates to a particular halakha, and then continuing to expound on that halakha with definitive rulings.

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2 reviews for Rabbi Yosef Hayyim (Ben Ish Chai)

  1. Israel rozner

    I bought about a week and a half ago the photo of Ben Ish Chai and it arrived in perfect condition, high quality, highly recommended

  2. Malka Yitzhak

    Thank you

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