Yosef Haim HaCohen

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Yosef Haim HaCohen
יוסף חיים הכהן
TitlePresident of the Ma'araviim Community in Jerusalem
Yosef Haim HaCohen

DiedSeptember 25, 1921(1921-09-25) (aged 69–70)
SpousePriha, Frida Shrem
Children2 sons
2 daughters
Parent(s)Rabbi Yehudah HaCohen
OccupationRabbi Judge and teacher
BuriedMount of Olives Jewish Cemetery in East Jerusalem

Rabbi Yosef Haim HaCohen (Hebrew: הרב יוסף חיים הכהן, 1851 Mogador, Morocco – September 25, 1921 Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine) was the President of the Ma’araviim Community in Jerusalem, as well as the rabbi, dayan (rabbinical judge), shadar (fund raiser and emissary) and rabad (Chief Rabbinical Judge) of the congregation.


HaCohen was born in Mogador, Morocco in 1851 to Yehudah and Simha.[1] In 1864, when he was thirteen, HaCohen and his family moved to Ottoman Palestine and settled in the Old City of Jerusalem where he enrolled in the Maghrebi Jewish school for religious studies. At the age of nineteen HaCohen married Priha, a fellow Moroccan Jew; they had no children. In 1897 HaCohen took a second wife named Frida, née Shrem, from Aleppo, Syria, with whom he had four children.[2][3]

HaCohen was head of Yeshivat Touvy Yisbau in Jerusalem. He was a follower of the Mekubalim (Kabbalists) at ‘Beit–El’ yeshiva and synagogue and taught at Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Later he was involved in founding and heading Oz L’Tora Yeshiva.[4]

On 21 May 1900, HaCohen was elected Chairman of the Ma’araviim Community in Jerusalem, in addition to being deputy to the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Jews in Palestine, Nahman Batito. In 1915 after Batito's death, HaCohen replaced him as President of the Moroccan Jewish community]] in Jerusalem. In 1919, HaCohen got hundreds of people to sign a petition requesting the Delegates Committee of the Zionist Organization to support Misgav Ladach Hospital in the Old City of Jerusalem which suffered from sub-standard health conditions in the aftermath of World War I.[5] [6]

HaCohen worked as a religious emissary. In 1894 he went to Jewish communities in Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and the Caucasus Mountains. In 1899 HaCohen went to Bukhara, where he raised funds for the Jerusalem congregation and also arranged for Torah Scrolls to be delivered to those remote communities. He worked with local scholars and philanthropists to publish books.[7]

The Chief Rabbi of Bukhara, Hizkiya HaCohen Rabin, wrote in a letter of him to a colleague:

"In the year 1899, the shadar arrived to Bukhara from the holy city of Jerusalem. Upon his arrival he informed the Bukharic Jewry of the sad news of Rabbi Nissim Baruch ZT”L, the rabad, Head Chief Judge from Jerusalem; and of Rabbi Eliyahu Mani ZT”L the chasid from Hebron" both died.[8]

During his lengthy stay in Bukhara he learned the native language of the Bukharian Jews. HaCohen's final mission, in 1903, was to Algiers,[9] and to Constantine, Algeria. In the preface of the second volume of his book Minhat Cohen (1910) HaCohen referred to his activity there while writing a responsum which he dated: “while I was residing during Mitzvah mission. Kasantina month Adar year 5663…”

Yosef Haim HaCohen died of a brief pulmonary infection on 22 Elul 5681 (25 September 1921).[2] A large crowd attended his funeral at the Arialis lot, the Sephardic-Hasidic area on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.[10]


Some of his writings, such as "Kohi V’Reshit Oni," on masachtot, "Darcheyi Haim", sermons and chiddushim (novel views) on the Torah, are lost.

Minhat Cohen was the only book published during HaCohen's lifetime. The book contains various Halachic judgements and discussions on Talmudic law.[11]

HaCohen gave a manuscript of his work Va’Yechalkhel Yosef to his son-in-law, Rabbi Amram Aburbeh who edited it and published it in 1966 as a kuntris (booklet) within his own book Netivey-Am. Va’Yechalkhel Yosef. It contains responsa by HaCohen and by Rabbis Solomon Eliezer Alfandari and Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. [12] [13] In 2008, a new edition of Va’Yechalkhel Yosef was published by HaCohen's grandson Ehud Avivi.[14]

His views on halakha (Jewish law]] were published in the HaMe’asef journal edited by Rabbi Ben Zion Avraham Cuenca, Head Judge in Jerusalem.[15] [16]

VaYechalkhel Yosef by HaCohen (2008)

His students[edit]

Among his students were:

[18] [19]


  1. ^ יוסף חיים הכהן [Yosef Haim HaCohen]. Jewish Encyclopedia Daat (in Hebrew). Herzog College. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b הרב ר′ יוסף חיים הכהן ז"ל [HaRav Rabbi Yosef Haim HaCohen Z”L]. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ Doar Hayom September 26, 1921 p. 3. “HaRav Rabbi Yosef Haim HaCohen Z”L.” by Elmaliah Avraham.
  4. ^ "Hodaa Gluya Umefursemet". Doar Hayom: 1. July 14, 1921.
  5. ^ "Toda U'Bracha". HaHerut Yerushalayim: 4. May 10, 1914.
  6. ^ "Harabanim Hasepharadim VeHageulah". Doar Hayom: 4. July 4, 1920.
  7. ^ HaCohen-Rabin, Yehudah (1989), Zarach Kochav Me-Yaakov: History and priesthood of Bukhara Rabbis
  8. ^ רבין, אברהם (1988), "Eretz Israel Emissaries in Bukhara 1881-1913", Pe'amim: Studies in Oriental Jewry / פעמים: רבעון לחקר קהילות ישראל במזרח (35): 139–155, JSTOR 23427476
  9. ^ this mission is mentioned in the book VaYa'an Shmuel [written by whom? published by whom, & when?] pages 131-136
  10. ^ "Tanchumim". Doar Hayom: 1. August 12, 1920.
  11. ^ "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: מנחת כהן - חלק א -- כהן, יוסף חיים בן יהודה, 1851-1921". hebrewbooks.org.
  12. ^ "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: נתיבי עם חלק א -- רבי עמרם אבורביע". 29 October 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012.
  13. ^ a b "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: נתיבי עם חלק ב -- רבי עמרם אבורביע". 30 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013.
  14. ^ "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: ויכלכל יוסף -- כהן, יוסף חיים בן יהודה". hebrewbooks.org.
  15. ^ "Mitzvah HaBa'a B'Avera Im Shayechet B'Mitzvah D'Rabanan". HaMeasef: 201. January 1982.
  16. ^ "Ochel Achila Achat VeChayav Daled Chatat". HaMeasef: 133. December 1895.
  17. ^ Netivei Am, Volume I, first edition, 5724
  18. ^ Sefer Hod Yosef
  19. ^ The Maarav Scholars in Jerusalem
  • Montefiore censuses 1875 Jerusalem Municipal archive and web site Montefiore censuses. http://www.montefiorecensuses.org[failed verification] The link is found when entering the ID number as follows for Census year 1875, ID 1916, Scan Line 18 the result is City Jerusalem, Kolel Sephardim, Name Yosef Cohen, Age 18, Status Married, Male, Place of Birth Morocco, Notes Lives in the courtyard known to the Rabbi Yedidia Eiiakim


The link is found when entering the ID number as follows for Census year 1866, ID 1447, Scan Line 24, City Jerusalem, Kolel North African, the result is Yosef Cohen son of Simha and Yehudah Cohen. Name Yosef Cohen, Age 10, Status Orphan, Male, Father's Name Yehuda, Mother's Name Simha . Name Simha Cohen, Age 25, Status Widow, Female Spouse's Name Yehuda, Place of Birth Morocco, Year of Arrival 1864, Occupation Unemployed, Economic Status Poor.