A Short Tribute

A Short Tribute

Hacham Abraham Dayan, son of Hacham Yishaiah, was born in the city of Aleppo, Syria. Hacham Abraham Dayan was one of Aleppo's most prominent rabbis in the 19th century and served as head of its Musta'arabi congregation. Musta'arbim is the name given to Jews who lived in Arab countries prior to the Jews' expulsion from Spain.

Hacham Abraham Dayan lived in great hardship and poverty. He spared himself the expense of having his books published. In his introduction to his book Shir Chadash, he writes of his journey to Safed – which proved to be disappointing – in search of a printing press that would be less expensive than those in Aleppo. The books he wrote include: Shir Chadash – on the Psalms; Zichron Nefesh – reprimand and morals; Po'el Tzedek – Responsa; Veyosef Avraham – Responsa; Tuv Ta'am – morals and sermons on the Bible and Mishna.

Hacham Abraham Dayan considered his wise sons as his successors and even introduced their Halachic thought in his books of Responsa.

Hacham Abraham passed away on 17 MarHeshvan 5636 (1876) and was buried in Aleppo.

Love of Israel
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel'
in which he praises those who retract their anger and admonishes those who becomes angry with their fellow men and takes out their fury on their wives
When a person expresses disdain to his fellow man or who abuses and curses him, or says things that are untrue about him, and his fellow man hears and does not reply, as in "He restrained His wrath time and again"– the insulted party receives all the insulter's merit, since the latter is lying… Truthfully, why should a person ever cause sorrow to his fellow man, created as he was in the image, and humiliate him? Why should he act superior or be arrogant, his end being a pile of earth and worms and maggots? The Torah is merciful, not cruel, towards living beings…All the more so, that a person - such as you are - created in the image and who it is forbidden to scorn or sadden, physically strike anyone. For by so doing you will surely be causing damage, and be termed wicked before God - to the point of being excommunicated. How foolish are those people who become angry with their fellow man and cannot express themselves in words – those who then come to their homes and spend their fury on their wives...
Holech Tamim VePo'el Tzedek, p. 55. Printed in Jerusalem, 1978
Tzedakah and Healing
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing'
in which he instructs to take in the poor person into one's home and to sit to eat with him at the same table
Just as a guest is always bashful in relation to the host who, with his wife, goes to the trouble of serving him, so should a person be bashful in relation to God - who bestows his goodness upon him, whose compassion overcomes Him, and who provides him with his daily sustenance – and not leave a hungry person until he has provided him with sustenance and bread.
This also suggests to us that when homeowner hosts a guest in his home he must receive him in joy and enthusiasm, and sit to eat with him at the same table as his children and household. As the Tannah [Mishnaic teacher] says, 'Let the poor be part of your household'; having him eat at his doorstep is so very foolish and shaming, certainly if he does not sit with him.
Holech Tamim VePo'el Tzedek, p. 44. Printed in Jerusalem, 1978
Israel and the Nations
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations'
in which he explains the reason for the niche in the Aleppo Great Synagogue wall
Concerning the mekharb qibla at the entrance, such as have the Ishmaelites in their place of worship – I have heard that the Sultan Murad Laffa came here, to Aram Tzova, in the year 5394 (1634) on his way to conquering Babylonia from the Persians - who had conquered it from him a second time. He entered this synagogue, saw that it harbored no foreign worship nor any image or idol and said: This place is worthy of a mekharb, and did not leave until he had it installed.
Holech Tamim VePo'el Tzedek, p. 44. Printed in Jerusalem, 1978
Torah Study
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study'
in which he admonishes a person who studies Torah but ignores its commandments
A common error among those studying the perfect Torah, when the opportunity to fulfill a commandment arises, is to ignore it. One ignores it, thinking, "Torah study is to my advantage, and I am acting to glorify God's might. Such a person is certainly lying, heaven forbid, to God, and being wicked and deceitful, for he studies yet does not fulfill, and Torah was given for the sake its commandments.
Sefer Zicharon LaNefesh, p. 75. HaKtav Institute Press, Jerusalem, 1984
Traditions of the Fathers
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers'
in which he explains that a father who did not have the privilege of studying Torah can makes amends by teaching his son
"And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens." If a man did not have the privilege of studying Torah and did not study since his youth, whether because of time constraints or because he had no father to teach him, then he can make amends. He should teach his son.
For this son, indeed, needs that his be very compassionate toward him, not that he have to toil [for a living], and therefore have to abandon his study, but rather "as is the practice with free maidens" – who are not in the position to provide for themselves but whose father who provides their livelihood until they are married – he should fill all the needs of his son at all times.
Sefer Zicharon LaNefesh, p. 54. HaKtav Institute Press, Jerusalem, 1984
Customs of Israel
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel'
in which he tells of the custom of visiting the cave of Ezra the Scribe, and the spring in which he would bathe
Nine hours away from Aram Tzova there is a village called Tiddif…where is a large synagogue. Our tradition has it that at the time they left the exile in the city of Babylon in the days of Ezra the Scribe, may his merit protect us amen, they came to this village. A debate began among [the people of] Israel concerning additions and omissions [in the Torah scroll]. Ezra, our master, said to them that "it should be written thus, and if you do not believe [me] – I will hereby write a Torah scroll, and leave an empty space for the Name of the Holy One blessed be He…I will set it aside overnight. Should you, at morning time, find the Name written as it should be – then you will know that I bear the truth. And they did so, and sealed that cave's door. Came morning. They opened it and saw the Name written in lovely and pleasing script. They built a beautiful synagogue by the cave, and there is a spring near the village, where our master Ezra, may his merit protect us amen, would bathe his body, and the place is called Ein Al Azair by the Gentiles as well, and every year in the months of Elul and Tishrei, people who have taken a vow at a moment of distress go there, to the hillula, and light candles in his commemoration.
Holech Tamim VePo'el Tzedek, memories of Aram Tzova, p. 131 - 132. Printed in Jerusalem, 1978