Rabbi Refael Yosef Chazan

Rabbi Yosef Raphael Hazan was a halachic preacher, one of the greatest sages of Izmir, Hebron and Jerusalem, who served as Rishon Letzion after immigrating to Israel.

Born: Izmir, Turkey 5501/1741
Died: Israel, 1820

 Rabbi Refael Yosef Chazan was born in Izmir, Turkey 5501/1741.  He died in Eretz Yisroel 23 Cheshvan 5681/1820 at around 80 years old.  He descended from a long line of gedolim from Izmir.  The Chazan family was one of the prominent rabbinic families of the Ottoman Empire along with the Algazi, Abulafia, and Danon families. 

Rabbi Yosef was orphaned form his father and Rebbi, Rav Chaim at a very young age which he laments in the hakdama of his sefer. At the of 29 he was appointed to be a Rabbi in Izmir the city of his birth.  At the age of 70, as was a known practice in those days, he moved to Eretz Yisroel and was accepted as Rav of Chevron.  After the presiding Rav of Yerushalayim died, the dignitaries of the city went to Chevron to bring Rav Yosef to be their Rav.

His Sefer Chikrei Lev after which he is commonly known contains thousands of Shailos he received from far and wide including questions from Eretz Yisroel.  Rav Yom Tov Algazi highly praises him in a Haskama to the Chikrei Lev.  Rav Yisroel Shklov a talmid of the Vilna Gaon who moved to Tzfas also sent Shailos to Rav Yosef and regarded him highly.

Beyond his greatness in the revealed and the halachic, he was familiar with mysticism. His greatness in the Torah led to the fact that in spite of him he also served the Ashkenazi community. He answered all the Torah's subjects in thousands of questions from many places, and even the students of the Gaon of Vilna, who lived in the cities of the Galilee, approached him with halakhic questions.

Rav Chazan passed away on the 23rd of Cheshvan 1820, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

He had six sons.  Four sons who were each Gedolei Torah in their own right while two died in his lifetime.  His lone daughter was the mother of Rav Chaim Palagi.  He was niftar the same year as Rav Avrohom Danzig the Chayei Adam and Rav Chaim Volozhin.

May the merit of the tzadik  Rabbi Refael Yosef Chazan protect us all. Amen

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