Hacham Benzion Shmuel Vidal

21 Nisan 5627 - 16 Cheshvan 5697      

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Hacham Benzion Shmuel Vidal

A Short Tribute

Hacham Benzion Shmuel Vidal Coyanca was born to Bechora-Donna and Abraham on 21 Nissan, 5627 (1867) in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1876, at the age of 9, he began to lay Tefillin and gave his first public sermon. At the age of 11, he began writing his own original Torah commentary.

In 1882, Hacham Benzion Shmuel Vidal Coyanca married and moved to the Ohel Moshe neighborhood, outside the Old City ramparts. During those years, his father supported him while he devoted himself entirely to Torah study. In 1889 he joined his father's business, learned commerce, and integrated his Torah study with employment.

In 1896 he founded the HaMe'asef journal that collected and published original Torah commentary written by rabbis of his period. The journal was published on a weekly basis, first as a supplement to the HaTzvi and HaHavatzellet newspapers and subsequently as an independent journal.

In 18997 he was appointed as a dayyan in Hacham Nissim Baruch and Hacham Shlomo Suzin's rabbinic court, and in 1898 began to serve as head of the Tiferet Yerushalaim yeshiva. In 1899 he went abroad as a rabbinic emissary to raise funds for Israel, visiting communities in the Jewish diaspora. He returned to the Tiferet Yerushalaim after his travels.

Hacham Benzion Shmuel Vidal Coyanca was committed to community work and founded the Sephardic Community Home for the Aged in 1906. In 1931, he was appointed Rabbi of Hebron, where he served until the Arab revolt of 1936.  

Hacham Ben Zion Shmuel Vidal Coyanca passed away on 17 Cheshvan 5697 (1936) and was buried on the Mount of Olives.

The writings by Hacham Ben Zion Shmuel Vidal Coyanca that have been preserved include Hoshia Zion – sermons on the Torah, Tiferet Zion – Clarifications of questions and Halakha in the Talmud, and Sefer HaZichronot VeHaToladot, an autobiography.


A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he compares unity to a sheaf of tobacco leaves

The tobacco tin dropped from my hands and all the tobacco in it fell and scattered. I reached out to return it to the box and…lo and behold! Those leaves that were bound one to another I was able to pick up with two fingers. They were returned to the tin just as they were, while the remaining leaves – those not bound on to the other – dropped and scattered. They cannot be returned to their place. They will be crushed by all those passing by, and amount to nothing. So it is with unity – its value and virtue.

Tiferet Zion, Introduction, page b, Raphael Haim Hacohen Printing, 1971