Benatar Huberman

  • Issue: June 1992
  • Designer: Y. Granot
  • Stamp size: 30.8 x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 164
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Rabbi Hayyim Benatar died before reaching the age of 50. During his short lifetime he spent brief periods of time in a number of different countries. He was one of the few Rabbis to whom the people gave the title "The Holy One", and he and his famous book 'Or HaHayyim" ("Light of Life") were widely acclaimed in all the countries of the Jewish Diaspora.

Rabbi Hayyim Benatar was born in the town of Salé in Morocco, where, at the time, the Jews were being persecuted by a despotic ruler. His genius was recognised at an early age, as soon as he began teaching Torah to young people and adults and writing his commentary on a section of the Talmud. Soon, however, misfortunes began to befall him. His wealthy father-in-law was imprisoned on a trumped-up charge and died. Rabbi Hayyim himself was also arrested on the same false charge and imprisoned. Following extraordinary efforts he was eventually released and went to live in Fez and later in Tetuan. He was not spared the effects of the famine which plagued the country and decided to realise the dream of his youth: to leave the Diaspora and to go to the Land of Israel. His journey was beset with extreme hardships: getting lost in the deserts of Morocco, encounters with wild animals and bandits, and a further imprisonment in Algeria where he was given a death sentence, which he managed, miraculously, to evade.

It is quite amazing that while enduring these adversities, Rabbi Hayyim wrote his most famous books, which are astounding in their scope and in their depth. He wrote "Hafetz Hashem" on the Talmud, 'Pri Toar" on the Code of Jewish Law, "Or HaHayyim" on the Torah and "Rishon Lezion" on the Prophets. After many wanderings he eventually arrived in Livorno In Italy, where he was received with much acclaim. Jewish scholars gathered to study Torah with him. Hundreds came to his sermons, and philanthropists published his books. The members of the community pressed him to stay with them, but he was absolutely determined to go to Jerusalem. and to set up a Yeshiva there. And indeed, he eventually went to the Land of Israel as the head of a group of scholars and their families. He was invited by the 93-year old Rabbi of Tiberias. Rabbi Hayyim Abulafia, to his Yeshiva in Tiberias to become his deputy, but he refused: his place was in Jerusalem.

On his arrival in Jerusalem everyone accepted his authority, recognising his genius and his sanctity. His senior scholars were accepted to his Yeshiva, among them Rabbi Hida who was to write "I have been privileged to have studied at his exalted Yeshiva, and my eyes have seen the greatness of his teaching. A brilliant thinker, a truly saintly person, and though his erudition s known from his writings, this is only a small fraction of his genius and the breadth of his benevolence".

Though he died less then a year after his arrival in Jerusalem, he became a popular legend. His book on the Torah "Light of Life" is a basic book, which includes everything in it: Law and Kabbalah, philosophy and legends, teachings and dialectics. He was known by the title the Holy "Or HaHayyim", being named after his most famous work, for which the Jewish world has always held him in the highest esteem.

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Rabbi Hayyim Benatar (1696 - 1743)