Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano

Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano

The illustrious Toledano family has its origins in the city of Toledo, Spain. In 5252 (1492), at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the ancestor of this family (the Gaon Rabbi Yossef) left Toledo accompanied by his son the Gaon Rabbi Daniel, the leader of the sages of Castile. The entire family swore that never again would they or their descendants see the land of Spain. To perpetuate the memory of this vow, they changed their family name to that of Toledano (meaning “Toledo-no” – No to Toledo). When the Jews were expelled from Spain, Rabbi Daniel decided to go to Morocco. He settled in Fez and established a great yeshiva there. The two sons of Rabbi Daniel, Rabbi Haim and Rabbi Yossef, were also great Torah scholars and held rabbinic positions in the city of Meknes.

Over the course of many years, brilliant and world-renowned rabbis and judges emerged from the Toledano family. The Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Toledano was known for his immense Torah knowledge and great fear of G-d. He was very young when named President of the Rabbinic Court of Marrakech. Following that, he occupied the post of rabbi in the city of Meknes. Rabbi Yaakov was respected and venerated as much by Jews as by Muslims. Thanks to his influence, the rabbis of the rabbinic court were officially recognized as civil servants of the government.

Rabbi Yaakov had a majestic face, brilliant like the sun; he resembled a Divine angel. His son, Rabbi Baruch, was known from his youth for his pure and delicate soul. From year to year, he elevated himself in the rungs of Torah study and the fear of G-d. He possessed a vast knowledge in all fields of Torah, hidden as well as revealed. His only ambition and passion was Torah, which he studied constantly.

At the age of 10 he fell gravely ill, and to aid his recuperation the name Raphael was added to his first name. His teachers, Rabbi Haim Berdugo (the spiritual leader of the yeshiva of Meknes) and Rabbi Haim Massas (the Dayan of Meknes), opened the doors of profound Torah knowledge to him.

After a few years, Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano became a great scholar in Shas and the Poskim. He then began the study of Kabbalah with his teacher Rabbi Yossef Elkubi. Rabbi Raphael revealed himself to be a master in the subject by virtue of his sharp mind and intelligence.

His love for his neighbor and devotion to every Jew constituted his greatness. His home was open to all who sought entry. No effort was too difficult for him to make when it came to saving the life of the sick or to help the poor. Nevertheless, it sometimes happened that some in the community wanted to dodge the prohibitions of the Torah. Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano was beside himself and led a merciless fight against such people. He was a powerful rock that watched over the holiness of the Torah in all its respects.

His deep and pure faith demonstrated itself when, during prayer, he recited the verse: “The L-RD is King, the L-RD was King, the L-RD will be King forever and ever.” He was always in the habit of saying “Why did King David, may his soul rest in peace, inverse the order of the passage and first write of the present, then of the past, and finally of the future? Logically, he should have first written of the past, then of the present, and finally of the future! This is to teach us that the basis of faith is in the present. We cannot feel the Kingdom of G-d in the past as long as we have not received His reign in the present. It is only after having deeply rooted the Kingdom of G-d in our hearts – at every present moment – that we can possibly, with a pure faith, reach an understanding of the Kingdom of G-d in the past and the future.”

His majesty and nobleness, his modesty and humility, fused together in perfect harmony, thus forming the character that was Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano. This marvelous harmony created a Tzaddik whose feet touched the ground and whose head reached the sky.

Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano traveled to Israel and settled in the city of Bnei Brak, and in the year 5731 (1971), in the month of Heshvan, he rendered his pure soul to his Creator.




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