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Yosef Messas

Yosef Messas (1892-1974) Rabbi.

Born in Meknes, Morocco, Rabbi Yossef Messas was an outstanding and original figure among Moroccan rabbis. His father, the illustrious Rabbi Hayim Messas, died in 1904 and the young orphan provided for his mother and two brothers by working as a scribe, illustrator, bookbinder, watchmaker and notary while keeping up with his studies. In 1924, he was invited by the community of Tlemcen, Algeria, to serve as their rabbi. He was much admired, and referred to as "El Hakham" (“The Wise”). In 1940 he returned to Meknes, and served as rabbi and dayan (judge). He was considered moderate yet scrupulous. Being a handsome, good natured man, in Meknes he was nicknamed "l'Ange Rose" (“The Pink Angel”). Soon after retiring, he immigrated to Israel, in 1964. In 1970, he was appointed Chief Sephardi Rabbi of the City of Haifa, and served in this position until his death in 1974. Rabbi Yosef Messas is the author of many works. After his death the "Otsrot Yossef" (Yossef's Treasures) association was founded in Haifa to ensure the publication of his manuscripts. His first responsa "Mayim Hayim" (Fez, 1934) was reprinted in Jerusalem in 1967. Other works by Yosef Messas include "Ner Mitsva", "Pourim del M'agaz", "Nahalat Avot" (3 volumes) and and "Otsar Hamichtavim" (3 volumes). Throughout his entire life he tried to bring young people closer to religion and tradition. An excellent orator, he meticulously prepared his speeches and sermons.

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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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