Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rabbi Isaac Delouya ( 1572)

Rabbi Isaac Delouya (הרב יצחק דלויה) was born in Spain,  around the end of the fifteenth century. The origin of his last name is "de Loja" (or most probably "De la Loja") which means, from the Spanish city of Loja, in the province of Granada, south of Spain. 

Rabbi Delouya arrived to Marrakesh, Morocco, in 1496.  Rabbi Isaac Delouya and the other Jews from Spain were not welcome very kindly by the local Jewish population or "musta'arabim" (see this). The Spaniards or "megorashim" (=expelled, i.e., Jews expelled from Spain) dressed differently --European style, while the locals dressed in a Moorish style. They spoke a different language, Spanish, not Moorish or Berber; and had their own well established customs, including their own liturgical melodies, which they preserved with zeal. The local Jews were suspicious of the newcomers and perhaps, afraid of their influence.  Rabbi Isaac Delouya was forced to establish a new synagogue for his own constituency.   

After a few years the local Jews recognized the great erudition of Rabbi Delouya and assigned him as the "ab bet din", the Rabbinical Judge of the city.  Ultimately, the musta'arabim adopted the Spaniard custom (aka The Sephardic Minhag) in the area of liturgy, for instance.  In some areas both communities were reticent to give up their traditions.

These are some examples of traditions which were preserved by the "megorashim". 

* The "megorashim" had their wedding only on Wednesdays, following the indication of the Mishna 

*In the Ketuba the "megorashim" would explicitly state that for any potential dispute they would follow the "Traditions of the Castillanos (=from Castilla, Spain)" כמנהג קאשטלייאנוש.

* During Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat previous to the ninth of Ab, while other Jews would traditionally restrict their happiness, the "megorashim" would celebrate the Shabbat without restrictions. They held a tradition that their ancestors were not living in Jerusalem at the times of the destruction of the second Bet-haMiqdash (I'm not sure if they meant by this that their ancestors lived by then in Spain, which is certainly possible. The Mishna, composed on the year 200 CE, mentions explicitly "Sepharad" (Spain) as a common place where Jews would travel for business).

According to the Delouya family tradition, Rabbi Isaac Delouya met with rabbi Yosef Karo and disagreed with the author of the Shulhan 'arukh on a few halakhot: 1. Rabbi Delouya was more lenient than Maran in the matter of basar halaq (see this) . 2. Unlike Maran, rabbi Delouya maintained that a qaddish should be recited after reading the Sefer Tora in Minha of shabbat. These two traditions are still kept by the Jews of Marrakesh. 

מזרה ישראל יקבצנו

The following movie was produced by the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) in 1964. It presents "The account of the last days of an ancient Jewish community", the Jewish community of Morocco.  The movie was made to encourage American Jews to help financing the Aliya of Moroccan Jews to Israel. Toward the end of the movie we are able to see snapshots of the lifestyle of Marrakesh Jews; their last days in the Atlas mountains; and the preparations for their journey to Erets Israel.