Shelomo Alfassa: January 2007 Archives

Published in the Image Magazine / January 2007

(This Original Essay is Copyrighted by Shelomo Alfassa - All Rights Reserved)

Rabbi Shelomo was the youngest son of Rabbi Shaul Kassin (1864-1916), of a family of rabbis that traced its ancestors back to Spain. He was the younger brother of the late Chief Rabbi, Jacob S. Kassin (1900-1994).

Although he grew up as an orphan, Rabbi Shelomo became an exemplary figure of the classic Sephardic man, a man of Torah and a man of the world. He was a master of languages, secular intellectual subjects, and was an expert on the laws of marital status as well as a highly competent shohet. He spent most of his life as a judge and rabbi in different parts of Israel, serving for many years as a judge on the religious court of Tel Aviv. Rabbi Shelomo died in 1982 and with his wife he is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The following is from the preface of his Nisose Or written in Bene Berak, 1966-67, it is a cry for the Jew to come back to the Torah.

"I dedicated all my strength to provide the public something that they would attain merit from. Especially in this generation, where I see less and less observance, and an increase in evil desire. Though few in number, thank God, we do have great scholars. Even so, the Torah is still being abandoned in the corner. Although this is the current situation, it is proper for the people of this generation to still set their hearts, thoughts and minds, on how-and-with-what, to raise the glory of the Torah, with their own physical means or monetary means. Was thought and knowledge given to man only to conduct business? To do transactions? To stock gold and silver? To build beautiful buildings? Should a man then think, I am fulfilled-peace be un to me?"

"If we are the Nation of Israel, if we claim to be the chosen people, loved by God; but then, if we are not concerned with how to raise the glory of the Torah, morality and the law among Israel-who will do it? If I am not for myself who will be for me! We must hasten and sacrifice, everyone of us; we must put time into thinking what we can do-and-how we can do it. We need to raise the crown of the Torah and morality amongst our brethren, all Israel. By doing so, we certainly will merit the complete redemption of our nation and the redemption of our land. If we fail to do so, we'll be abandoning the hope, the eternity of the Jewish people."

The following essay was written during the lifetime of Rabbi Shelomo by his colleague Rabbi Yehiel Shelomov of Tel Aviv in 1962. It was translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Nissim Elnecave of Brooklyn.

* * * *

It is with great merit to me that I was asked to write by an important rabbi in Kol Sinai, about somebody that I know, the honorable Rabbi Shelomo Shaul Kassin. Rabbi Kassin was born in Jerusalem in the year 1908 to his father the great rabbi, the pious, the kabbalist-from the known greats of Torah, Shaul Kassin of blessed memory.

Rabbi Shelomo Kassin's was first educated in Talmud Torah and secular schools and from there he went to yeshiva. For many years he studied in Yeshiva Porat Yosef in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Kassin is great in Torah and also possesses a broad knowledge of intellectual subjects. He had a tremendous desire to learn, and he does constantly. His extensive knowledge of the Talmud and the poskim [the later rabbis], the midrashim, halakha, and the agadah, all brought him to be ordained to be a rabbi by the members of the rabbinate in the Land of Israel. He was hand selected to office by Chief Rabbi Ben Sion Meir Uziel of blessed memory. Kassin served as a rabbi in various places throughout Jerusalem; in the neighborhood of Nahalat Ahim and Nahalat Sion.

He accepted a request to serve as a rabbi by the leaders and the rabbis of Egypt, with the consent of the chief rabbis of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He went to Egypt and became a head of the bet din. With the establishment of the State of Israel, he was obliged to return, and once he did, he remained faithful to the State and to Zionism.

Upon his return, he served as a rabbi and judge in Jaffa. Rabbi Kassin founded the Great Synagogue known Shivat Sion and from there he went to Bene Barak. It's almost twenty years now that the rabbi has been officiating and acting as judge in the court of greater Tel Aviv. The man remains loved and admired by everybody, by all of the Sephardic and Ashkenazic congregations including all of the various groups of the nation.

His books include Sefer Kerem Shelomo, 2vols. A responsa on tractate Yebamot, Ketuvot, Gitin, and others. Some time ago his writings and insights were sent to the famous rabbi who was one of the leaders of Porat Yosef, the honorable Nissim Eliyshar. Rabbi Eliyshar wrote a response to a question asked by Rabbi Kassin, he prefaced it with: "To the honorable judge, the pleasant, the precious, the studious, Hakham Shelomo Kassin…." Eliyshar issued an approbation saying that the reader will find great insights about the commentators of the Talmud, the Tosefot, the Maharsha, the Maharam Shif, in his book Kerem Shelomo.

At the end of the book there is a halakhic inquiry that was originally sent from Mosul [Iraq] to the bet din in Jerusalem, it was then given to Rabbi Kassin for a ruling. And these are the words of Rabbi Avraham Pilosof of blessed memory, member of the Chief Rabbinate and Head of the Bet Din of Jerusalem:

"Our dear rabbi, the complete wise man, solid in his learning, son of a distinguished family, his light shines, the honorable rabbi Shelomo Kassin. He dealt with this inquiry, and he issued a ruling, a proper ruling, God is with him, since the law is as he said. Let it be God's will, that his fountain should bloom…"

On his section on derashot [sermons], there are lectures that warm the heart more precious than gold; they are about the holidays and other periods. In regards to the world at large, his knowledge is extensive. His writings are published often in the different magazines and newspapers. His other books include Divre Shelomo 2vols., Taharat Benot Yisrael, Nisose Or, this last one talking about morals and behavior of man. It contains a full write up on the love of your fellow Jew, character traits, and values of Judaism. It ties our national revival to the building of our land and our final redemption. Rabbi Kassin is ordained as a shohet, mohel, he is knowledgeable in different sciences, he speaks a number of languages, and his sermons attract many people. This paper would not be enough to tell of all his greatness, our blessings are that he should merit to increase Torah and to beautify it.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Shelomo Alfassa in January 2007.

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