web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Torah of Ben Ish Chai Rescued in Covert Op


Ben Ish Chai

Photo Credit: unknown

An ancient Torah scroll once belonging to the great Torah sage Ben Ish Chai has been rescued from war-torn Iraq, and made its way home to Israel’s beach-side community of Netanya on Tuesday.

One of the world’s oldest Torah scrolls still kosher for use, the 400 year-old Torah was liberated in a covert operation conducted with the help of US Armed Forces still stationed in Iraq. The unique scroll is printed on gawil – thick parchments not split during the construction of the scroll – and etched with large letters. It once served the community of the celebrated Baghdadi Rabbi Abdullah and his renowned disciple, Rabbi Yosef Chaim, who came to be known as the Ben Ish Chai.

Dr. Nissan Sharifi, attorney and chairman of the Be’er Chana synagogue in Netanya, explained to Israel’s Hidabrut website that he began his quest to rescue the precious scroll after representing some Jewish US Army soldiers who had immigrated to Israel. He began to hear stories from the Jewish-American soldiers about ancient Jewish manuscripts and books in the possession of the Jewish community of Baghdad, including the Torah scroll of the Ben Ish Chai. When he heard about the existential threat facing the dwindling Jewish community of Baghdad in the wake of the withdrawal of the US from Iraq, and understood the danger to the Jewish artifacts posed by angry rioters in a turbulent post-war Iraq, he decided to try to save the scroll, the second oldest scroll which is kosher for use in the world, after the 500 year-old scroll of Rabbi Isaac Abuahav, which is currently in the Galilean city of Tzfat.

Iraqi law makes removing artifacts relevant to the country difficult to accomplish. Sharifi would not go into detail about the rescue, but told Hidabrut that the original cylindrical case ensconcing the scroll was not salvaged – only the parchments arrived in Israel.

According to Sharifi, the small remaining Iraqi Jewish community in Baghdad supported the transfer of the scroll to his synagogue. Yom Kippur was the last time the scroll was used, when Jewish Army soldiers joined the 7 or 8 remaining elderly Baghdadi Jews to make a prayer quorum (minyan). In the possession of the community remain thousands of handwritten items, manuscripts, books, and tens of Torah scrolls, all of which are threatened by the somber reality of the vulnerability of the community resulting from the US Army’s withdrawal from the area.

The Torah was received in a festive ceremony at the Be’er Chana synagogue, which was established by Sharifi in the name of his mother, who was born in Baghdad. In attendance was Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the late former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who was an advocate of the preservation of Iraqi Jewish traditions and a student of the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai.

In the early 1900s, as many as 300,000 Jews lived in Baghdad. A major anti-Semitic upswing following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 eventually resulted in rescue Operation Ezra and Nechemiah(named after the prophets who led the Jews of Babylon to the land of Israel), which evacuated up to 120,000 Jews from Iraq in 1 year, leaving just 6,000 by the end of 1952.

About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Torah of Ben Ish Chai Rescued in Covert Op”

  1. Sara Mandell says:

    I just love good news like this. A Holy Treasure has been restored to Eretz Yisrael! Rav
    Ben Ish Chai is dancing with delight.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Obama on Iran Deal
Is Obama a State Sponsor of Terrorism?
Latest News Stories
US Secy of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shake hands.

A poll suggesting American Jews support the Iran deal is flawed, while a new poll reveals the opposite.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu called Pollard’s wife over news of his impending release from prison.

Israeli security forces surrouund the two "Draynoff" buildings in which Beit El residents had barricaded themselves to resist evacuation.

A tent city is raised in solidarity with Beit El residents, where two half-finished apartment buildings are threatened with demolition.

Bernie Sanders with supporters

“Sure, a lot of people like Bernie Sanders, but can he win?”

Former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will be freed in November after spending 30 years in a U.S. prison.

Arab children are taught to be “martyrs” at the Al Aqsa Mosque summer camp in Jerusalem.

Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick praises Israel’s government but says “more” needs to be done about disparity at the site.

The scenes from last night and today in Beit El are eerily reminiscent of the scenes from Gush Katif 10 years ago, the above photo in particular.

Military officials called this a most serious incident, but stressed that the soldiers fled the outpost while the battalion and their fellow fighters were not on operational duty.

Gaddafi wasn’t in the court, as he is currently being held captive by one of the former rebel groups in Zintan.

Britain issues alert for its citizens against travel to Turkey due to “high” threat of terror attacks by ISIS.

The marijuana valued at $50 million, and seized in an operation over the past few months.

Nuttall told an undercover policeman that his wife believed she should send Jewish children to paradise, since “grown-up Jews” go to “eternal hell.”

Local Israel Police have arrested seven Jerusalem Arabs in connection with recent attacks on Jews.

Half of all Israeli Arab MKs ascended the Temple Mount to protest “police brutality,” expelling Jews along the way.

The Temple Mount movement strongly condemns Tuesday’s visit by Israeli Arab MKs to the ancient site.

More Articles from Malkah Fleisher
Godzilla (R.)

A green bell pepper affectionately dubbed “Godzilla” by the children of Moshav Ein Yahav in the northern Arava desert has won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Though the permissibility of watching hired sports players go to battle in a large stadium is a source of controversy amongst Torah observant Jews, the food being served at the upcoming Super Bowl games in New Orleans is not.

Rabbi Yitzchok Moully, youth director at the Chabad Jewish Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, will be introducing a new art installation in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees, inspired by the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.

More than 2,000 people have made contributions in memory of the young victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to plant a grove of trees in Israel.

Shoshana Hebshi, a half-Jewish, half-Arab woman from Ohio is suing Frontier Airlines, the FBI, TSA and other governmental agencies after she says she was forced off a flight, strip-searched, and imprisoned on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

Women may enter military combat in the United States, following the lift of a military ban on women in combat by defense secretary Leon Panetta.

The Jewish National Fund will reconsider a plan to forest parts of the Arava desert, following the request of environmental organizations to consider the impact of trying to alter the native ecosystem.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Israel and western countries not to attempt to stop Iran’s nuclear program through military means.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/torah-of-ben-ish-chai-rescued-in-covert-op/2012/01/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: