Living Legacy: Rav Benzion Abba Shaul Upon his 25th Yohrtzeit
Shabbos, the 19th of Tammuz, marks the 25th yahrtzeit of one of the great chachamim of the Sephardic world—a ga’on and masmid who authored countless Torah responsa and other writings—Rabi Benzion Abba Shaul.
He was born in Yerushalayim on the 29th day of Tammuz of the year 1924 to parents, who were immigrants from Shiraz, Iran. His father worked as the gabbai of the famed Ohel Rochel Shul in Yerushalayim, and he was raised in the Shmuel Hanovi area of the city.
He entered the legendary Yeshivat Porat Yosef as a young boy of eleven and was recognized as an illuy, learning from the great Roshei Yeshiva of that institution. His friend from yeshiva, Rav Ovadia Yosef, related that they would walk together to the yeshiva, back when it was located in the Old City. “We would study one daf with tosafos on the way there and one daf on the way back—and it was all clear and fresh to Rav Benzion.”
He eventually became the co-Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, but his humility was legendary, always deferring to his partner, Rav Yehuda Zadka. He would tell his talmidim, “Whatever the Rosh Yeshiva will tell me to do, this is what I will do. If he tells me to learn the same daf gemara every day, that’s what I will do.” His shiurim in the yeshiva were brilliant and could last up to four hours—leaving him completely depleted at the end of every shiur. His style in learning was one of great depth and iyun.
In later years, he founded, along with his son, Yeshivat Ohr L’zion—a network that has today expanded to a number of cities in Eretz Yisroel.
Once, a talmid who was becoming a rov asked Rav Benzion, “How can I ensure that my brochos that I bless other Yidden come true, the same way rebbi’s blessings do?”
And that is when Rav Benzion revealed the secret of his own power to bless: “If you will have true Ahavas Yisroel, your brochos will be fulfilled.”
Upon his passing in the summer of 1998, he left behind an incredible legacy. His son, Rav Eliyahu Abba Shaul, was the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ohr L’Tzion, in the name of his illustrious father, until his own sudden passing. He was succeeded by his son Rav Benzion Abba Shaul, a graduate of Ponovezh, and known as a tremendous ga’on who spends most of his day immersed in Torah with great intensity and is a true credit to his grandfather and namesake.
He left behind six volumes of teshuvos Ohr L’Zion and three volumes by the same name on masechtos hashas, in addition to writings on mussar and yomim tovim.
Among his talmidim are some of the greatest luminaries of the Sephardic world today, including Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim who are a testament to their great rebbis living legacy.