Hacham Ma'atuq Cohen ('Atoji)


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A Short Tribute

Hacham Ma'atuq Cohen ('Atoji), son of Kamos, was born in 1859 in Djerba, Tunisia.

His father died when he was still a child and he had to support his family. He nevertheless learned Torah with Hacham David Cohen Gisha. As an adult, he became a goldsmith and worked until he earned a reputation as a wealthy person. He did not, however, shirk from his study, would close shop on Wednesdays and spend the entire day learning Torah. He also studied in his shop and in the market synagogue.

Hacham Ma'atuq Cohen was associated with the Hacham Yitzhak Houri yeshiva in Djerba, where he studied Halakha and prayed on a regular basis. He bought and donated books to the yeshiva. He also had a pleasant voice and knew many ancient piyutim by heart.

Hacham Ma'atuq Cohen maintained a deep respect for his teachers, and would make a 7 kilometer pilgrimage to Didjat every festival to see his teacher, Hacham David Cohen Gisha; after his decease he fasted on the annual commemoration of his demise. For nearly fifty years he attended a synagogue at some distance for his home where there was no other Cohen, so that he could recite the Birkat Cohanim.

 Hacham Ma'atuq Cohen passed away on 8 Tevet, 5699 (1939) and was buried in Djerba. His original work was published after his death in Yekar 'Erech, on HaZa"L texts.

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