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7***Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim of Baghdad

Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim of Baghdad

 Born: Iraq, ?

Died: Iraq, 1859

Darshan (preacher), father of  The Ben Ish Chai.

Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim inherited his father's official position as Darshan (preacher). He was one of the most prominent rabbis in the city, whose opinion on Halachic matters was sought by colleagues as far away as Jerusalem, Saloniki, and Izmir. He chose not to accept any payment from the community for his services. Instead, he devoted a little time to business in order to support his family.

R' Eliyahu Chaim was utterly devoted to fulfilling the precepts of the Torah in the most simple, practical sense. Some examples of his devotion have been recorded: He entrusted a friend in the Holy Land with money to buy land in order to be able to fulfill the Torah's commandments pertaining to agriculture. He bought a young female donkey in order to redeem its firstborn. He would always be on the lookout for bird's nests through which to fulfill the mitzvah of shilluch haken. R' Eliyahu's business prospered, and, in the guise of the treasurer of a charitable fund, he would contribute large amounts of his own money for charitable purposes. In fact, his devotion to charity was such that he even found a way to fulfill this precept on Shabbat. He would put aside sums of money before Shabbat, and on Shabbat he would stand near the money and pledge it to various charitable causes, distributing it after Shabbat.

For many years, R' Eliyahu was childless. One day he received a letter from the famous leader of  Moroccan Jewry, Rabbi Yaakov Abu Chatzeirah (1807-1880) informing him that he would shortly be blessed with a son who would illuminate the Jewish world. The blessing was fulfilled in 1833 with the birth of his son Yosef Chaim (The Ben Ish Chai). Subsequently R' Eliyahu had four more sons and a daughter.  

May the merit of the tzaddik  Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim of Baghdad protect us all, Amen.

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