||An authorization letter to solicit and collect funds on behalf of the Tiberius community, signed by the community’s leading rabbis and members of the Bet Din. Throughout history there have always existed large numbers of Jews in need of help and organizations to accommodate. The one name invoked most often “Rebbe Meir Ba’al ha-Nes” was utilized to collect monies throughout the Diaspora to help the settlers in Erez Israel. As the resting place of Rebbe Meir, Tiberius, was closely associated with his name and emissaries were constantly sent throughout the Diaspora to collect funds for Tiberius Jewry. When the city was severely damaged by the violent earthquake of 1837, which destroyed most of the 16th-century city wall and caused the death of many inhabitants (according to one source, 1,000 Jews then lost their lives). Many of the surviving Jews fled to Jerusalem, but returned to Tiberius in the following years; in 1839 the city had 600 Jewish inhabitants. The importance of this emissary can be deduced by the number and importance of the signatories to the Authorization letter. Signed by:
1. R. Hayyim Nissim b. Isaac Abulafia (1775–1861), Rishon le-Zion and communal worker. He is also known by the initial letters of his name, as “Hana.” Born in Tiberius, he succeeded his father as the head of the Jews of Tiberius. In 1840, when some of the Arab sheiks began to seize control of the villages and towns abandoned by the Egyptians and oppressed and maltreated their Jewish inhabitants, R. Abulafia asked the commander of the Turkish forces in Sidon (Saida) and Tripoli to take action to stop these acts. The latter immediately had instructions dispatched to the governor of Safed forbidding persecution of the Jews. Toward the end of his life R. Abulafia moved to Jerusalem and, in 1854, he was elected Rishon le-Zion. His writings have remained in manuscript, except for individual responsa published in the works of his contemporaries.
2. R. Moses ibn Simhon (19th cent) kabbalist and holy rabbi. R. Moses was born and educated in Morocco, and settled in Tiberius. His name appears on many period documents and he served as shedar on several occasions to Italy, Morocco, and Italy.
3. R. Jacob b. Joseph David Abulafia (1812-1879 or 1896), rabbi communal worker, and a member of a family with roots to prominent Spanish Torah scholars.
4. R. Abraham b. Jacob Abadi (d. 1849) was born and educated in Aram Zova (Aleppo). An erudite scholar, he was a dayyan and prominent rabbi. He came to Tiberius in 1840 where he was a member of the Bet Din. His name appears in the approbations for several period works.
5. R. Moses Guigui.
6. R. Raphael Ha-Kohen.
7. R. Meir Issachar b. Ezekiel Eliezer Abulafia (1809-1886) rabbi and shedar. His name appears on many period documents.
8. R. Joseph (b.) Malka (1803-1875) was born in Syria and came to Safed in 1839. A prominent scholar and rabbi of hundreds of students. R. Joseph also served on several shedar missions and is buried in Tiberius.
9. R. Isaac b. Moses Abulafia (1824-1910) rabbi of Damascus. R. Abulafia, who was born in Tiberius, was rabbi of Damascus from c. 1877. His authoritarian attitude and his habit of making independent halakhic decisions roused the opposition of the other rabbis and of the communal leaders of Damascus, who united in an attempt to remove him from his position. In 1896 they turned to R. Moses ha-Levi, the hakham bashi, in Constantinople, who acceded to their request by appointing R. Solomon Eliezer Alfandari rabbi of Damascus. The two rabbis did not at first cooperate with each other. Later, however, R. Alfandari brought R. Abulafia into the sphere of his activities. Toward the end of his life R. Abulafia acted as rabbi in Tyre. From there he moved to Jerusalem, and finally to Tiberius, where he died. An outstanding halakhic scholar, his responsa Penei Yizhak were published in six volumes (1871–1906). Some scholars, especially R. Shalom Hai Gagin of Jerusalem, were critical of the first volume, and R. Abulafia wrote Lev Nishbar (1878) in reply to his critics.
10. R. Raphael b. Solomon Maman (c. 1810-1882) was born in Meknes and came to Tiberius in his youth. He is the author of Marpeh LeNefesh (Jerusalem 1894) on the laws of Agunah. His responsa appears in many period works.
11. R. David Nehama.