A Short Tribute
Hacham Shaul Hacohen, son of Hacham Moussa Hacohen, was born on the island of Djerba, in south Tunisia.
He began to study Torah with Hacham Tzemach Hacohen. When he matured and married, he went to earn his living as a shopkeeper and devoted his remaining time to Torah study.
Hacham Shaul Hacohen was appointed rabbi of a small neighborhood in Djerba. During his term, he was devoted to the community, made unique rulings and annulled customs that he felt were unworthy.
Hacham Shaul Hacohen and Hacham Yeshua Bassis were close friends. Hacham Yeshua Bassi named him Shaul, God’s Chosen. He foresaw the day that Tunisia would lose all its sages and directed Hacham Shaul Hacohen to strengthen Torah study and sustain Torah scholars. And the time did, indeed, arrive when Tunisia was in need of Djerba’s sages.
Hacham Shaul Hacohen was learned in both the revealed and concealed aspects of the Torah but, as can be seen from most of his commentaries, preferred the direct and simple approach in interpretation (pshat).
Hacham Shaul Hacohen passed away on 6 Iyar 5608 (1848) and was buried in Djerba. His remains were brought to Israel some 150 years later, on 15 Shevat 5760 (2000), and buried on Moshav Eitan.
Hacham Shaul Hacohen authored 10 books, some of which were published during his lifetime: Lechem HaBikurim –rules of Hebrew grammar, Karnei Ramim – on RASHI’s and REE”M’s [Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi] commentaries on the Torah, Sfat Da’at – a commentary on the Slichot, Bigdei Kehuna and Nokhach Shulchan – an explanation of the Shulchan ‘Aruch, Arvei Pesachim – a commentary on the Passover Hagaddah, Yad Shaul – a commentary on the Torah, Netiv Mitzvotecha – a commentary on the azharot (exhortations to obedience) by Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gevirol and Rabbi Yityzhak Ben Reuven, Bina Le’itim – on the science of the calendar, and Shai LeMora – a commentary on the High Holiday prayers.