web analytics
September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.
Gazan Deaths and Destruction Dramatically Drives Popularity for Hamas
Latest News Stories
O.J. Simpson is converting to Islam. He was charged in 1994 with nearly decapitating his ex-wife.

O.J. Simpson is converting to Islam. He was charged with his ex-wife’s murder in 1994. She was nearly decapitated.

Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.

Rockets and violence over diplomacy and passivity is the Palestinian Arab ruling style of choice, as reflected in a PCPSR poll.

Lady Gaga defies BDS  again with a show in Tel Aviv  on Sept. 13, 2014.

Maybe Abbas should accuse Lady Ga-Ga of incitement for saying “Shalom.”

British Jew Neil Masterson allegedly punched anti-Semitic MP George Galloway in the face.

The prosecutor says Masterson told police, “I didn’t want him to think I’m scared.”

Honey cake, gourmet honey, flavored honey, and honey as a recipe in chicken, and even fish, are all expected to contribute to soaring sales of honey this Rosh Hashanah and holiday season. Ironically, the US Department of Agriculture is conducting hearings to define honey or just how much honey is required to qualify for “pure […]

Abbas does not have to push agenda because he has the Obama administration is his spokesman.

The Islamic State (ISIS) has just released a video showing the beheading of another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, according to a monitoring group.

Cantor can thank his defeat to a Tea Party candidate for leading him to more lucrative and stable career.

Hamas won the war in political terms, but that won’t stop Kerry.

A farmer in the (legal) Tikkun Olan Cannabis farm near Tzfat. This is one of their greenhouses. The company is licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Health to grow, process and distribute the medicinal plant.

Israeli intelligence sparked a massive manhunt that foiled an Arab terror attack, caught two suspects and kept Israeli civilians safe.

The ‘Talansky affair’ corruption trial of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert re-opened today in Jerusalem.

Iran has successfully tested a new defensive radar and missile system, its air force chief announced Monday.

Diplomatic relations with Israel are likely to remain in deep freeze for the next few years, Turkish PM Davutoglu signals.

Events on the other side of Israel’s northern border are heating up. The IDF is on high alert in the Golan Heights.

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: