Sharabi, Shalom

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SHARABI, SHALOM (1720–1777), Jerusalem kabbalist. Sharabi was born in *Sana in *Yemen, where the study of *Kabbalah and mysticism was widespread. in his youth, he emigrated to Ereẓ Israel via *Damascus. In Damascus he was involved in a controversy with the local rabbis concerning the meaning of the minimum quantity ("the size of an olive") prescribed for the eating of matzah on Passover night. When he arrived in *Jerusalem, he prayed and studied at the kabbalistic yeshivah Bet El, which had been founded in 1737 by the kabbalist Gedaliah Ḥayon. There the prayers were held in accordance with the mystical meditations of Isaac *Luria. Like the Jerusalem kabbalists, he studied only the Lurianic Kabbalah, as transmitted through the works of Ḥayyim *Vital, Luria's outstanding pupil. Soon he became widely known as a man of outstanding piety and as a kabbalist. Sharabi succeeded Gedaliah Ḥayon as head of the yeshivah after the latter's death (1751). During his leadership, he did much for the yeshivah, initiated important regulations, and arranged the order of prayer. He became known as one of the greatest rabbis in Jerusalem and his signature appears on several documents preserved from this period. In 1754 and 1758, he and other rabbis of Jerusalem signed the note binding the association of kabbalists, Ahavat Shalom. In 1774 he signed next to the leaders of the community of Jerusalem on a letter for emissaries to Western Europe.

Sharabi's life was embellished by legends even from his youth, and in Ereẓ Israel he was famous as a saint and miracle worker. Popular tradition links his departure from Yemen with a miracle that occurred after a rich Muslim woman tried to seduce him. In Bet El he worked as a servant and hid his learning from others; only miraculously was his deep knowledge of Kabbalah discovered and he became a member of the kabbalistic circle. According to legend, the prophet Elijah appeared to him, and he was an incarnation of Luria. After his death, his name became greatly revered among the Jews of Jerusalem and among the kabbalists of Bet El. His grandson, Solomon Moses Ḥai Gagin, wrote a poem of praise on his expertise in Eẓ Ḥayyim and in Shemonah She'arim of Ḥayyim Vital. The members of Bet El used to prostrate themselves on his grave on the Mount of Olives on the commemoration of his death. His signature was Shalom Mizraḥi di-Ydi'a Sharabi and his titles Ha-Reshash or Ha-Shemesh (both are Hebrew acronyms of Shalom Mizraḥi Sharabi).

Sharabi's books are on Lurianic Kabbalah. Particularly famous is his prayer book Nehar Shalom (Salonika, 1806), which includes in detail the secrets and mystical meditations on prayers and on mitzvot for the entire year according to Luria's Kabbalah. It became popular in Ereẓ Israel and North Africa after his death. His contemporary, Ḥ.J.D. *Azulai, attested that Sharabi studied the Lurianic teachings in depth and presented the mystical meditations of Luria clearly and correctly. He annotated corruptions in the texts and elucidated lacunae and contradictions. His glosses and explanations of Luria's writings are an important source for their understanding.

The missing part of the work was published later in an edition of Eẓ Ḥayyim (1866–67; 1910). It was published in Jerusalem in two editions (1911–12; 1916). Parts of the prayer book were published under different titles and in many editions from 1911. He also wrote Reḥovot ha-Nahar, a commentary on Luria's principles (Salonika, 1806); and Emet ve-Shalom, glosses to Ḥayyim Vital's Eẓ Ḥayyim (Salonika, 1806), later published in Eẓ Ḥayyim (Salonika, 1842; Jerusalem, 1866–67).


Azulai, 1 (1958), 174; Ashor b. Israel, in: Lu'aḥ Ereẓ Yisrael (ed. Luncz), 19 (1914), 69–78; Abraham Nadaf, Seridei Teiman (1928), 5; A.L. Frumkin, Toledot Ḥakhmei Yerushalayim (1929), 116–9; Ariel ben Zion, Sar Shalom Sharabi (1930).

[Yehuda Ratzaby]