Just over a month ago, Kelal Yisra’el suffered the loss of a great meqori hakham and Sefaradiy Chief Rabbi of Netanyah, HaRav David Chelouche z”l.
Rav Chelouche (שלוש) was born on January 1st 1920 and passed away on June 8th of this year. He authored many books of halakhah and commentary on the Miqra (Scripture, Tanakh), including a well-known collection of she’iloth and teshuvoth entitled Hemdah Genuzah (חמדה גנוזה). Notable relatives are his niece (the daughter of his sister) who was the wife of HaRav Mordekhai Eliyahu z”l and his younger brother, Rav Avraham Chelouche, who still serves as Chief Rabbi of Kefar Saba.
He learned at Yeshivath Porath Yosef and studied under HaRav `Ezra `Atiyyah z”l alongside such hakhamiym as: Hakham `Ovadyah Yosef z”l, HaRav Hayyim David HaLevi z”l, HaRav Ben Tziyon Abba Sha’ul, and others. In 1953, he was sent to serve as Chief Rabbi of Netanyah by the then operative Rishon Le-Ssiyon, HaRav Ben Tziyon Me’iyr Hai Uzziel z”l, a position in which he served up until his recent passing.
Among other things, he was a prominent supporter of the Ethiopian Jews, opposing the idea that they needed to undergo a giyur le-humrah in order to marry Jews from more traditionally-established communities.
Like many of his Israeli-Sefaradiy compatriots and fellow hakhamiym, Rav Chelouche had an authentic vision to unite all Jews under one, reasonable, livable halakhic norm in which all ethnocentric and divisions that developed during the galuth. His loss was such that it seems he may never truly be replaced, or at least that is the common feeling when such a great and holy hakham passes from our midst, but I am sure that even now – in the `olam ha-emeth (the “world of truth”) – he would assure us that if we strive it is possible to not only replace him at the level to which he attained, but also to surpass him – a notion that feels so far from our present reality. HaShem ya`azor lanu la-`aloth be-liymudh toratho kedhey la-`asoth (“May HaShem help us to rise in the learning of His Torah for the purpose of carrying it out”). Amen, selah.
One of my favorite hakhamiym of the current generation, Rav Haim Ovadia of Rockville, Maryland has done a short, two-part series on the halakhic ideology of Rav Chelouche that I highly recommend listening to, either at the links below or on his podcast channel which is also hosted at Spreaker.com.
In this series, Rabbi Ovadia learns through a portion of the introduction to Hemdah Genuzah, a portion of which I have provided below.
Enjoy, and may HaShem grant us the zekhuth to live up to the ideals of His servant who has passed from our midst, but whose wisdom remains, HaRav David Chelouche z”l.