Eliyahu Ben Haim

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Eliyahu Ben Haim
Rabbi ben chaim.jpg
Eliyahu Ben-Chaim

August 4, 1940
NationalityPersian, Israeli
ParentsSaleh (Betzalel) Ben Chaim
Simcha Ben Chaim
DenominationOrthodox Judaism
Alma materPorat Yosef Yeshiva
OccupationRabbi, Talmudic scholar, judge, lecturer, recognized halakhic authority
PositionChief Rabbi
SynagogueSha'are Shalom (United Mashadi Community of America)
PositionRosh yeshiva
YeshivaYeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan
PositionAv Beit Din
OrganisationBadatz Mekor Haim
ResidenceGreat neck, NY
SemichaRabbi Salman Hugi Aboudi, Rabbi Ezra Attia, Rabbi Yaakov Ades, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, Rabbi Ovadia Hedaya

Eliyahu Ben Haim (born August 4, 1940) is a Sephardi rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and Orthodox halachist. He is the Av Beit Din (head of the rabbinical court) of Mekor Haim in Queens, New York, and a prominent leader of New York's Sephardi Jewish community.

Early life[edit]

Born in Israel, Rabbi Ben Haim studied at Yeshivat Porat Yosef, where he was recognized as a prodigy with a distinguished memory. He attended the shiur of Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul and received semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Ezra Attia and other great Rabbis at the age of 17, he was tested on the entire Shulchan Aruch. In Porat Yosef, Rabbi Ben Haim fostered a close relationship with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who studied Even Ha'ezer with him.

Community work[edit]

In 1962, at the age of 22, he was appointed maggid shiur at Yeshiva Beth Harashal in Jerusalem. Five years later, he became the rosh yeshiva of that yeshiva. In 1973 he began teaching at the Lifshitz Teachers Seminary in Jerusalem. In 1975 he was sent by the Jewish Agency to serve as a rabbi in Tehran, where he hosted Rabbi Ovadia Yosef during his historic trip to Iran. In Tehran, Rabbi Ben Haim began serving the local community of Mashadi Jews as a rabbi. In 1979, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, he came with his family to the United States and served as the chief rabbi of the Mashadi Persian Jewish community of Long Island (UMJCA). Since 1993, he has lectured at Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan (RIETS) at Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Ben Haim was considered a close friend of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and delivered many eulogies for him. Rabbi Ben Haim runs the Beth Din Mekor Haim, there he addresses the needs of the Queens Jewish community in matters of marriage, divorce, conversion, civil law, and kosher supervision. Rabbi Ben Haim runs a Kolel affiliated with the Beth Din as well.

Rabbi Ben-Chaim welcoming Rabbi Amar
Rabbi Ben Haim (top row, second from the left) with Shimon Peres, Teddy Kollek, and David Ben Gurion (bottom row) shortly after the Six-Day War (1967). This picture hangs in the Old City of Jerusalem's Four Sephardic Synagogues

Vision and outlook[edit]

Rabbi Ben Haim, like his teacher, Ovadia Yosef, advocates using the Kochah DeHeterah (power of leniency) to assist every Jew in need, especially agunahs, women whose husbands refuse to provide a get (Jewish bill of divorce).

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Chaim, Rosh Yeshiva at YU and Av Bet Din in Queens, with The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Chaim, Rosh Yeshiva at YU and Av Bet Din in Queens, with Yitzchak Shamir
Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Chaim, Rosh Yeshiva at YU and Av Bet Din in Queens, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

External links[edit]