Tzadikim

Rabbi Shelomo Bekhor Hussein

Rabbi Shelomo Bekhor Hussein (Rashba"h, 1843-1892; sometimes written "Hotzin" due to Modern Hebrew pronunciation norms) was a legal decisor, liturgical poet, journalist, translator, and printing house owner who was one of the outstanding Babylonian rabbis in the second half of the 19th century. 

Born: Bagdad, 1843
Died: Bagdad, 1892
 

Rabbi Shelomo Bekhor Hussein (Rashba"h, 1843-1892; sometimes written "Hotzin" due to Modern Hebrew pronunciation norms) was a legal decisor, liturgical poet, journalist, translator, and printing house owner who was one of the outstanding Babylonian rabbis in the second half of the 19th century. 

Biography 

Shelomo Bekhor Hussein was born in Baghdad in 1843 to a connected rabbinic family. One of his ancestors was Rabbi Sadqa Bekhor Hussein (1699-1743), author of the work "Sedaka Umishpat." 
Hussein was one of the students of Rabbi Abdallah Somekh and learned in his yeshiva, the Midrash Bet Zilkha. 
Rabbi Hussein had wide-ranging interests and engaged in a diversity of activities in his life. Among other things he would write regularly for the contemporary Hebrew press, including periodicals that were published in Baghdad, India, Ottoman Palestine, and Eastern Europe. Over the years he wrote more than 150 articles for various newspapers, such as Le Libanon, Hamagid, Ha-Tsefirah, Habatzeleth, Hadover (Baghdad), Hamevaser (Calcutta), and others. His articles covered topics such as Jewish communal life in Iraq, Kurdistan, and Persia; as well as Jewish law, ethics, culture, world politics, and current events. His articles are a vital primary source on the cultural life and travails of the Jews of Iraq and Iran in his day. They also express his personal approach which blended an acceptance of Maskilic and modern values with the importance of preserving tradition. 

In the educational sphere, he served as principal of the Midrash Talmud Torah in Baghdad, as well as a stint as a Talmud teacher in the Alliance Israélite Universelle school. As a posek he decided halakhic questions from across Iraq and the Baghdadi community in India and other countries. 
In 1867 he founded a Hebrew press in Baghdad (the third such enterprise in the city). This publishing house continued to function through his son even after his death. Among the books he published were anthologies of stories of ethical and personal development that he collected himself. He also invested in securing subscriptions for various Hebrew periodicals (like Hamagid) among Baghdadi Jews. Rabbi Hussein dreamed of establishing a bilingual journal in Hebrew and Arabic in Baghdad but was unable to secure permission for such a project from the Ottoman Sultanate. 
Over the years he translated several works from Hebrew to Judeo-Arabic, including sections of the Passover Haggada and the Siddur. 
He passed away in 1892 at age 49, in his native Baghdad.

May the merit of the tzadik Rabbi Shelomo Bekhor Hussein protect us all. Amen 

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