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The Rashash is considered the father of all contemporary Sephardic kabbalists.

Rabbi Shalom Sharabi -- The Rashash

Rabbi Shalom Sharabi -- The Rashash

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Rabbi Shalom Sharabi -- The Rashash
The Rashash is considered the father of all contemporary Sephardic kabbalists.

Rabbi Sar-Shalom Mizrachi Didia ben Yitzchak Sharabi, known as the "Rashash" [initials for "Rabbi Shalom Sharabi"], was born in 5480 (1720) in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. After being miraculously saved from a difficult situation, he fulfilled his vow to go to the Holy Land of Israel in order to live in Jerusalem. After a journey that led him through India, Baghdad and Damascus, he arrived in Jerusalem.

...he was determined to keep his abilities hidden in the Holy Land.

Although he had already established himself in his previous countries of residence as a significant Torah scholar and Kabbalist, he was determined to keep his abilities hidden in the Holy Land. He approached Rabbi Gedalia Chayon, the head of Beit El Yeshiva, the major center for Kabbalah study, and applied for the job of shammash (caretaker). All he asked for in return was a roof over his head and some food. The headmaster took pity on the young orphan and gave him the job.

In this way he was able to stay anonymous yet quench his thirst for Torah. His official job was to wake up the students for the Midnight Rectification Prayer, keep the shelves of holy books in order, bring water and serve hot tea. This enabled him to stand innocently in the corner during lessons as if he was not part of the privileged group of students [which included the famed Chidah], yet he was listening intently.

No one dreamed that this simple shammash was actually a great scholar. Once, an extremely difficult question arose which no one could solve. Young Shalom noticed Rabbi Gedalya's disappointment and that evening, after all the students left, he wrote down what he knew to be the answer and inserted the note into one of the Rosh Yeshiva's books.

The next day Rabbi Gedalya was delighted, "A note from G‑d," he thought. But after this act was repeated a few times, Rabbi Gedalya realized it must be one of his students. He proclaimed, "I decree that the writer of these notes should reveal himself and that we will allot him the respect he deserves."

For the sake of modesty and his desire to stay anonymous, Rabbi Shalom still did not confess, so the issue remained a mystery.

She decided to spy at nights through the window.

Chana, the daughter of the Rosh Yeshiva, realized how much her father wanted to find out who was the individual leaving the notes. She decided to spy at nights through the window. Finally, one night she saw the Rashash sticking a paper inside a book on the Rosh Yeshiva’s desk. She immediately notified her father. The Rashash was forced to admit to him his authorship. He pleaded to be allowed to remain hidden, but Rabbi Gedalia took his daughter’s discovery as a sign from Heaven that it was time for the Rashash to be revealed.

After Rav Gedalia’s death in 5507 (1747), the Rashash, then only 27 years old, was appointed Rosh Yeshiva, according to Rabbi Gedalya's dying wish. He was already married to Chana, with a son whom they named Yitzchak. Among his students were the Chidah, and the Maharit Algazi who became the Rosh Yeshiva after the passing of the Rashash.

He wrote a commentary on the Etz Chaim of which Rav Yeddiya Abulafia said that whoever learns Etz Chaim without the commentary of the Rashash is like a blind man feeling his way in the dark. Among his most famous writings is the Siddur HaRashash, known for its special Kabbalistic intentions for prayer, which has become the standard for all [Sephardic] Kabbalists today.

The Rashash passed on to his heavenly reward on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, in the year 5537 (1777) at the age of 57, in Jerusalem. He is buried on the Mount of Olives, where his grave is a pilgrimage site until this day.

"...if you have not learned the works of the Rashash, you have not yet entered into the study of Kabbalah."

The great Kabbalist, Rabbi Chaim Pelaji, testified that Rabbi Shalom Sharabi's soul was that of the holy Ari of Tzefat. Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri used to say, "One can have memorized all of the written teachings of the Ari, and have studied them and the commentaries upon them in great depth, but if you have not learned the works of the Rashash, you have not yet entered into the study of Kabbalah." He is considered the father of all contemporary Sephardic kabbalists.

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His Writings:
Perush HaShamash (The caretaker's Commentary)
Siddur HaRashash – also known as the "Siddur Ha-Kavvanot" -- the main prayerbook used today by Kabbalists for prayer, meditation and study, containing extensive Kabbalistic meditations.
Rechovot HaNahar (Roads of the River)
Emet VeShalom (Truth and Peace)
Nahar HaShalom (River of peace) in which he answers 70 questions of the Torah sages of Tunis
Chasdei David (David's Kindness)
Minhagei Rashash (Customs of the Rashash) – multi-volumed compilations of and commentary upon the customs of the Yemenite Jews. He also produced an exclusive edition of the Shulchan Aruch ("Code of Jewish Law"), where he gives his interpretations of Jewish Law, as well as noting the particular customs of the Shami Yemenite community. These volumes are used by this community still today to reach decisions regarding holidays, marriage and Shabbat services.

In Nahar HaShalom, on page 32a, in response to the question of how he arrived at his great understanding and what written works did he rely upon, the Rashash replies that he relied only upon "Kitvei HaAri," the written accounts of Rabbi Chaim Vital of the teachings of the holy Ari of Tzefat. He added that he would send them a short pamphlet called "Rehovot HaNahar," which would lay out the foundational principles that would enable them to understand the Kitvei Ari as he had. Rav Yitzchak Kaduri said, "Until you have learned Rehovot HaNahar, you have not learned Kabbalah." For this reason it has become the primer book in a number of Kabbalistic yeshivas today.

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COMING SOON! – an audio translation with explanations of Rehovot HaNahar


Based on //mekubal.wordpress.com/?s=rashash, and supplemented with brief items from various Kabbalah sources. (Part of the bibliography is from Wikipedia.)

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

Yerachmiel Tilles is the co-founder of Ascent-of-Safed, and was its educational director for 18 years. He is the creator of www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org and currently the director of both sites. He is also a well-known storyteller, a columnist for numerous chassidic publications, and a staff rabbi on AskMoses.com, as well as and the author of "Saturday Night, Full Moon": Intriguing Stories of Kabbalah Sages, Chasidic Masters and other Jewish Heroes.
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Discussion (4)
August 28, 2015
A good siddur with yichudim/kavanos for ashkenazim is the Siddur Ha'ari of Rav Shabsi of Reshkov who was a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov.The nusach of this siddur is very similar to the nusach Ari siddur of the Baal Hatanya. The Siddur Harashash follows the nusach of the Sefardim-Eidos Hamizrach. Another option is the Siddur Rabbi Asher from R Asher Margolis a talmid of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. Both these siddurim can be found in seforim stores in brooklyn.
Akiva
October 28, 2014
What would be then good siddur with kabbalistic meditations and yihudim for ashkenazim?
Anonymous
HK
October 26, 2014
to Gershon Eliyahu
Interesting. Thank you. I'll go back to my source, but what you write sounds
convincing.
Rabbi Y Tilles
September 16, 2014
Year of Death?
His tombstone states the date of his death as 10th of the month of Sh'vat, "sh'nas m'nuchoso kovod (mem noon vov chess tov vov kof veis vov doled). That comes to 542. So the date should be 5542 (1782), not 5577 (1777) as stated in your article.
Gershon Eliyahu
New York

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