Monday, 19 May 2014
Rabbi Ezra Attia - Rosh Yeshiva Porat Yosef - Yahrtzeit 19 Iyar
Rabbi Ezra Attia (1887 - 19 Iyar 1970) was one of the greatest Torah giants, and teachers of contemporary times. He was not just a Posek, but extremely well versed in all the hidden mystical Torah (Kabbalah.) He was the Rosh Yeshiva of the famous Porat Yosef Yeshiva teaching hundreds of the Sefardi Talmidei Chachamim of today – and certainly tens of the greatest of Sefardi leaders in world Jewry today. He was well known for being the teacher of Chacham Ovadia Yosef (died 2013), previous Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Israel and no doubt the greatest of the Sefardi Poskim of recent times! He also taught Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the elder Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri (died at over 100-110 years of age in 2006), Rabbi Yehuda Tzadka, Rabbi Ben-Tzion Abba Shaul, and many other well known Tzaddikim, Torah giants, Poskim and Mekubalim.
His parents were having a difficult time in having children, and so they went to the grave of Ezra HaSofer to daven for Divine help. His mother had mentioned that should they be blessed with a son, she would call him Ezra after Ezra HaSofer and would devote his entire life to Torah. The blessing came about, and indeed Rabbi Ezra Attia achieved the highest of Torah levels.
His family was extremely poor, and he would eat only one pita a day – if he was lucky. He told his pupils that when things were good, he would share a pita with his mother. On rare occasions he would even divide an egg in half! His father-in-law was the great Rabbi Avraham Sallam the Kabbalist.
He studied Torah under Rabbi Chaim Shaul Dweck – the well known Kabbalist responsible for the Sadeh commentary on the Eitz Chaim of the Arizal. His other teacher was Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Alfrandi (who Yahrzeit falls out in just a few days!) another of the greatest kabblists of recent times – who died at the age of almost 111 in 1930!
Perhaps one of his most famous stories concerns his pupil Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. One day (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was still a Bachur in his teens) when it became apparent that Rabbi Yosef was not attending Shiurim, Rabbi Attiya looked into things and found out that he had taken a job helping his father in his grocery store. He was forced to work due to the extreme poverty in which they lived. When Rabbi Attiya tried to convince his father of the importance of Torah study, the father did not listen, saying that the money needed was more important. The next day, Rabbi Attiya himself appeared at the grocery store all dressed up in a work apron. When asked about it, he told Rabbi Yosef's father that he had told Rabbi Yosef to continue his learning as he had already found someone else to take his job at the store for no pay! The worker – was none other than Rabbi Attiya himself! When the father saw just how much Torah study meant to the both of them, he left Rabbi Yosef to continue study. Today, we can see just how much that decision has affected the entire Jewish world!