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Hillula

(872 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
A hillula (pl. hillulot) is the anniversary of the death of a Jewish saint, known in Hebrew as a ṣaddiq (righteous individual) or a qadosh (holy man). The term, which in Aramaic means “wedding,” is used especially in North African contexts. It is generally traced to the Zohar, where it is used in reference to the demise of Rabbi Simeon Bar Yoḥay and is interpreted as indicating the marriage of his soul with the Divine. As such, the hillula represents the enduring life of a saint’s soul rather than the mortal death of his or her body. Given Bar Yoḥay’s standing as the puta…

Azugh, David Ben Barukh ha-Kohen

(285 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
David Ben Barukh ha-Kohen Azugh (d. 1760) is a key figure in a renowned Moroccan saintly line that traces its ancestry as a primogeniture back to the high priests of the First Temple (see Barukh Kohen Azugh). David Ben Barukh, who lived in the southern region of Morocco, is said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime and after his death. The appellation Azugh is understood in at least two ways. By one account, it derives from a Berber word meaning “great.” Another interpretation holds that it is an acronym for the categories of women u…

Pilgrimages and Pilgrimage Rituals, Saints' Tombs in the Modern Period

(2,453 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
Pilgrimages (Ar. ziyārāt, visits) involve a constellation of rituals organized primarily around visitation to the tombs of saints (Heb./Jud.-Ar. addiqim), holy men and women  whose presence and powers are held to remain vital after their earthly death. Controversy over pilgrimage has not entirely threatened these rituals, which are grounded in canonical Jewish practice and continue to have relevance. In the modern period, Jewish pilgrimage to saints’ tombs has been situated at the intersection of two opposing developments. On the one hand, as post-Enl…

Pinto, Ḥayyim

(297 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
Ḥayyim Pinto ha-Gadol (Heb. the elder; 1794–1845) was the patriarch of one of Morocco’s most famous saintly lineages. Born in Agadir, he is more closely associated with the city of …

Azugh, Barukh Kohen (Barukh al-Kabīr)

(269 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
Little is known about the life of Barukh Kohen Azugh, an eighteenth-century figure whose importance in Moroccan Jewish hagiography derives primarily from his status as the father of David Ben Barukh ha-Kohen Azugh and progenitor of a  line of Jewish saints. In this capacity, Barukh Kohen was the central person in a lineage that purportedly extended back in a direct line, through the First Temple e…

David u-Moshe

(412 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
David u-Moshe (David son [Berb. u-] of Moses) belongs to the category of sainted Moroccan rabbis (

Solomon Bel-Ḥensh

(303 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
As is common in Jewish Morocco, the name Solomon Bel-Ḥensh (Shlomo ben l’Ḥensh) …

Abuḥaṣera (Abiḥaṣera) Family

(484 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
The Abuḥaṣera (Abiḥaṣera) family, a major saintly lineage of Moroccan rabbis in the modern era, embodies four facets of hagiographic identity in Jewish North Africa and its diaspora. First, it represents the significance of patrilineal descent in the Moroccan hagiographic tradition (see also Barukh Azugh and Ḥayyim Pinto). The family traces itself back to Samuel Elbaz, sometimes said to have been a sixteenth-century rabbinic emissary (Heb. meshullaḥ or shadar) to Morocco from Jerusalem. According to well-circulated hagiographic narratives, Samuel took on the name Abuḥaṣera (Ar.

Holy Shrines - Conceptual

(1,580 words)

Author(s): Oren Kosansky
The basic notion behind holy shrines—that even given the divine omnipresence in the world there are places where this immanence is more palpable—has deep roots in the history of Judaism. The Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Torah are all recognized in …