Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh


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A Short Tribute

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh was born in Rabat, Morocco. His father was Hacham Aiush Elmaliakh and his maternal grandfather was gifted kabbalist Hacham Shmuel Caro, whose signature can be found on the rabbinic approbation of Hefetz Hashem, one of the books authored by the saintly Or HaHaim. Hacham Elmaliakh's father had replaced his own father as Av Bet Din of Rabat-Salé.

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh was highly renowned for being gifted in Torah and Hassidism, and for his great modesty. He debated with the famed Ner Hama'arav, Hamal'ach Rabbi Raphael Berdugo, in the Mishpatim Yesharim Responsa. Students came from all over Morocco to study in the Beit Midrash he established in Rabat-Salé.

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh married Hacham Ga'on Eliezer Diabila's granddaughter (his daughter's daughter), and they had a son and a daughter. His daughter married his student and relative, Hacham Aaron Elmaliakh, who came from the town of Demante and eventually replaced him as Head of the Beit Midrash and Av Bet Din. Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh's son, Amram, who was very successful in his business affairs in Mogador and Lisbon, was appointed Italian consul in Mogador. His grandson, the son of Hacham Aaron Elmaliakh, is Hacham Gaon Yoseph Elmaliakh, known as the Baba Sidi, who compiled the first part of his book, Tokfo shel Yoseph.

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh eventually left his birthplace for Gibraltar, where he was received with love and respect under the auspices of British rule and became Gibraltar's leading Hacham. He inspired the wealthy Gibraltar Jewish community to open their hearts and provide generous support for the rabbis and the poor of Morocco.

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh passed away on 11 Elul, 5583 (1823). The local authorities allotted a spot for his burial at the top of the hill next to the British fort that guards the sea passageways.

Hacham Yoseph Elmaliakh authored Tokfo shel Yoseph, a book of Responsa in two parts. The book was printed during the last year of his life, in 1823, although he may have passed away before the book was published, seeing as the book does not have an introduction.

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