Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado

- 17 Tishrei 5678      

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Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado

A Short Tribute

Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado, born in Aleppo, earned the merit of having studied Torah in poverty. He was a scholar and kabbalist, and devoted his entire time to doing G-d's work, bringing his brethren back into the fold and preaching Torah to the public. His brother, Hacham Shlomo Raphael Laniado, immigrated to Israel and subsequently served as Rosh Yeshiva of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva. In 1912, Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado immigrated to New York, from where he moved to Buenos Aires. He and Hacham Shaul Sitteon Dabbah led the community and strengthened its religious foundations. When Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado passed away he was bitterly eulogized by Hacham Shaul Sutteon, despite the latter's instructions to the contrary. Hacham Shaul Sutteon Dabbah ruled that a zealous and righteous person of such fame was not to be heeded and that it was an imperative that he be eulogized in the synagogue, and so it was. The epitaph engraved upon his tombstone reads that he spent all his days in anguish, preached Torah to the public and led the wayward to repentance; he was the exemplification of "leading the public to righteousness"- zealous for G-d and His Torah, and scrupulous regarding His commandments. Hacham Yitzhak Eliyahu Laniado left this world on 17 Tishrei, 5678, and was buried in Buenos Aires.

Hacham Yitzhak Laniado had authored his book on mysticism, Vayizra Yitzhak, by 1912, but it was published only in 1928, thanks to his son's efforts.

A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Love of Israel' in which he teaches that even one who fulfills [a mitzvah] without kavvanah [devotional intent] yet takes pleasure in it, repairs the approach to Atzilut [the Kabbalistic sphere of Divine emanation]
The world-repair by the Torah, of the Holy One blessed be He, through what one studies in the Torah, which is called 'light', and sets his mind, since Torah has literal, hinted and mystical [levels of meaning] the Hebrew initials of which spell P'R'D', also contains [the hidden] Sod, called secret light. And one sets one's intent to please He who commanded us to it. Just as I, your servant, do not know the nature of the kavvannot, and have not delved nor traversed but rather, I do these things, meaning Tefillin and Torah study, for the sake of their Creator and with intention, for the sake of their Maker. This is not, indeed, the case with my teachers and superiors, who did delve and traverse, and who most certainly fulfill the commandments and study Torah with true kavvanah, restoring [tikun] the [Kabalistic] celestial father and mother, the father being restored [tikun] by the study of Torah that was uttered, and the mother restored by the fulfillment of the mitzvah. In the mystical [sphere], the father speaks and the mother acts.
So for the remaining simple folk who wear Tefillin out of routine or as part of social norms, without even any literal intent or inner awareness, yet take pleasure in their [Tefillin] boxes, knots and straps, and 'fastening them, fastening them thoroughly', on their arms, they are those who restore the worlds of Creation, Formation, Action – that are called the entrance and path to the World of Atzilut [Emanation].
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, p. 106, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Torah Study' in which he teaches that an angel visits the embryo and teaches him, "having all goodly things of his master's in his hand".
"Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews" – An angel comes and teaches him, 'having all goodly things of his master's in his hand' and 'the spark of his fire shall shine, a candle lit upon his head', 'let them set a fair miter upon his head, the counsel of God upon his tent'. He is given good doctrine – nothing is as good such as is Torah, 'ordered in all things' preserved from 'since ever the earth was' and he is sworn, on the day of his birth, his makers congratulated, 'better is overt rebuke', 'A damsel, two damsels to every man', and he is told and instructed, as one does to his brethren: Be a righteous person and not a wicked one, 'forgiving iniquity and transgression and fear', that they be uppermost in his mind throughout the days of his life until old age, to live by his faith, 'righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins', ' because his consecration unto God is upon his head'.
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, pp. 87-88, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Traditions of the Fathers' in which he teaches that the righteous are sons of the sons of Moses, and their demise is in the hands of the angel Michael.
The features of Moses are the features of the microcosm [ze'ir anpin], while Aaron symbolizes the angel Michael, the great minister [of Divine will] who presents the souls of the righteous to the Holy One blessed be He. It is known that the souls of those deceased in the Land of Israel are elevated by an angel of mercy, of those angels appointed by Michael's hand, though this quality is for the simple folk living in the Land.
The righteous are indeed [elevated] by the angel Michael, and with him is the revelation of the Shechina, as we find in the case of our Teacher, Moses, may he rest in peace, when the Holy One blessed be He said unto Michael: Go forth and bring me the soul of Moses, and although that was not the instance of his death, which happened later by a kiss by G-d, one may say, as concerns Moses, that he could not be touched by anyone, neither by any angel nor seraph, except by the Holy One blessed be He, in His Glory; since he [Moses] was equated to [the people of ] Israel in its entirety, as they wrote: 'Out one woman's belly were six hundred thousand born' and also because it hints to ze'ir anpin – meaning: for inwardness, as is written in the holy Zohar: Moses towards the interior and Aaron towards the exterior, and if, concerning the aspect of our father Jacob, may he rest in peace, they said he is considered as towards the exterior, regarding Moses, all the more so as concerns all other righteous ones, who are the sons of his sons, and are referred to as 'towards the exterior' regarding Moses, and their demise is by the angel Michael.
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, pp. 237-238, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Tzedakah and Healing' in which he teaches to impose that charity fulfill the commandment by the emissary from the Holy Land.
The Lord said to the prophet Isaiah: '…concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me' and we, too, to whom shall we command you? These are your interests, your flesh and blood, your relations, your masters, we have arisen and been inspired to impose upon ourselves and others, along with us, the meaning of 'charity is to be imposed', to gather a fair donation, with a good eye and in generous spirit, immediately, without hesitating and saying I will give tomorrow, to revive the spirit of these unfortunates and to handsomely fulfill the emissary's mission for the holy land 'for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come', and G-d will indeed see our righteousness, we have been strengthened and will not weaken, and this will benefit us and those following us, and our sons will not be surrendered to the sword, and our progeny will not lack bread, for wherefrom is charity to be found … Each and every one of you will give, and give again, for all comes from Him and His Hand giveth everything, and the poor among you have been sent by the Holy One, blessed be He, that you may be righteous, and to revive us towards this day, and through us will the scripture be fulfilled "But unto you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings; and ye shall go forth".
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, pp. 121-122, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Customs of Israel' teaching that a person on his deathbed is gladdened and strengthened by seeing his friend come visiting.
Be thou as a brother, strengthening his brother's heart in all cases, as it is written: 'And to his brethren he said, be of good courage' – so was he to me. He was as a friend who amuses his friend when meeting him, thus would he be amused and take pleasure when I would come to him; even when he was ill and lying in bed, on his deathbed, when hearing the sound of my footstep at the threshold of his house he would take heart and be strengthened, and would sit up in bed and speak with me to dispel his sorrow, and eat and drink, and would be very glad of spirit, as his sons are well aware and as is, in particular, his wife who upholds the house.
Therefore do I mourn you, my teacher and master, I grieve for you, father, I grieve for you, brother, who are like my soul; I grieve, my friend. Who is there left for me, through whom my grief to dispel, my comfort lies in the branches you have grown, saplings that resemble their roots, the pleasing Naaman in particular, beloved sapling called the light of time, 'with fair branches, and with a shadowing mantle' as is the cedar of Lebanon, well-read and well-bred.
Vayizra Yitzhak, sermon on Tefillin, pp. 121-122, Ezra Haim Press, Damascus, printed in Aram Tzova [Aleppo], 1928