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Famous Journals

Shira Yehudit Djilimand

Lots of us have probably kept a journal or diary at some time. Can you imagine some time in the future your diary being published and becoming famous all over the world? Join us as we take a look at some famous journals.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The writings of the Chida cannot really be called a journal, but rather a sefer. The Chida, Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azoulai (1724–1806), a renowned talmid chacham and the author of numerous seforim, was born in Jerusalem. He was chosen to be a meshulach to travel abroad to raise money for the poverty-stricken Jewish community of Chevron.

For 26 years the Chida traveled, visiting countries as far flung as France, Holland, Germany, Italy, North Africa, Morocco and Tunisia. The sefer Ma’agal Tov records the rare manuscripts he discovered, the communities he visited, and the dangerous adventures he experienced, such as his close scrape with the Russian navy and his fear of being attacked by the Knights of Malta.

The Chida begins his sefer:

These are the happenings of the young one — all the happenings and great events that passed over me from the day I went out to the townships, went into the cities of the lands of the nations, various kingdoms and different peoples, traversing the sea and traveling by every sort of vehicle, sedan and ark, in wagons, by mule and camels.

Here, the Chida describes how his fundraising mission in Ancona, Italy, fared:

The council met further and a spirit of goodwill supported them (to give) the sum of 275 Corinthian ducats. I answered them that there is a hint of evil [i.e., 275 is the gematria of ra’ah — “evil”], and it is not fitting after they have rendered me only good. This found favor in their eyes, and they added another five!

Here the Chida describes one of his experiences in France:

At night came the Marquis de… and the Marquise de… and they sat by me and asked me to pray for them … She donated a Louis coin for Chevron ...

It seems that the non-Jewish people too, appreciated the Chida’s holiness and wisdom.


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