A Short Tribute
Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz, son of Samuel, was born in 1823 in Sefrou, Morocco. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised in his uncle Hacham Amram Elbaz's home and study house, and was Hacham Amor Abitbol's attendant.
Along with his study of the revealed and hidden aspects of the Torah, Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz also studied mathematics, astronomy and history.
Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz married the daughter of Hacham Abraham Mamman, who apparently was a wealthy man and one of the Sefrou community's prominent members. The couple had no children, and raised an orphaned girl.
At the age of 28, Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz was appointed dayan for financial issues at the Sefrou Rabbinic Court.
Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz composed songs for events and prayers that are sung as the introduction to the piyuttim of the Bakashot. He also served as a preacher and, in order to involve large segments of the public, would often speak in the Sefrou Jewish Arabic dialect. Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz regularly visited the sick in hospital, and welcomed guests in his home.
Hacham Raphael Moshe Elbaz passed away on 22 Tammuz, 5656 (1896) and was buried in Sefrou. His writings include Halacha Le'Moshe – a book of responsa on the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, Shir Hadash – a book of poetry, 'Arba'a Shomrim – laws and ethics, Darash Moshe – sermons, 'Eden MiKedem and Minei Metika – on Midrash, and books on Halakha dealing with Jewish history, the Hebrew calendar leap year, and general topics.