Rabbi Shalom ben Yosef Shabbazi, also Abba Shalem Shabbezi or Salim Elshibzi (Hebrew: שלום שבזי, Arabic: سالم الشبزي) was one of the greatest Jewish poets who lived in 17th century Yemen and now considered the 'Poet of Yemen'. Shabbazi was born in 1619 at Jewish Sharab, close to Ta'izz, and lived most of his life in Ta'izz from which he was expelled, along with most of the Yemenite Jews in 1679. He died in 1720. His father, Yosef ben Abijad bin Khalfun was also a Rabbi and a poet. Shabbazi's extant poetic diwan, comprising some 550 poems, was published for the first time by the Ben-Zvi Institute in 1977. He wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo-Arabic. Shabbazi's other writing include a treatise on astrology and a cabbalistic commentary on the Torah. Shabbazi's grave in Ta'izz is revered by Jews and Muslims alike. He is now considered by Academics as the 'Shakespeare of Yemen'.
He wrote a commentary on the Torah called Chamdoth Yomim. His leadership was instrumental in helping the Jews of Yemen survive some of the worst persecution in its history. Mori (Yemenites often call their spiritual leaders "Mori" meaning "my master" or "my teacher", rather than "rabbi" which resembles the Arabic for "my God") Shabazi wrote a kinah for recitation during the Ninth of Av recalling the terrible exile of Jews in his lifetime from all cities and towns in Yemen to an inhospitable desert called Moza, during the time the Jews were banished there a full 20% of their number perished. The Diwan of Mori Shabazi has become an essential part of Yemenite Jewry's spiritual and cultural lives. Mori Shabazi wrote nearly 1500 diwan on nearly all topics in Judaism, unfortunately only about 300 survived the ravages of persecution, time and the lack of a printing press in Yemen. He wrote his Diwan (poems/songs) in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic. Currently, the Israeli government and the Chief Rabbinate are trying to bring the remains of Rabbi Shabazi to Israel Many of his poems have elaborate detailed premonitions of returning to Israel, with his people.
Shabbazi in Popular Culture
Shabazi's poem "Im Nin'alu" (אם ננעלו) became a hit single sung by Israeli singer Ofra Haza, whose family is of Yemenite origin, and has also been interpreted by Yemenite singer Daklon. Other songs, such as "As'alk" (أسألك), were also performed by Ofra Haza as well as Zion Golan, Aharom Amram and Shoshana Damari. Another famous poem, "Ahavat Ra'aya Retzoni", was performed by Zohar Argov. The Israeli metal band, Orphaned Land sings one of his poems in their song "Olat Ha'tamid". There is also a small street named after him in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
- "Rabbi Shabazi's bones to be buried in Israel?". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
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