Waves Sharon Rabbi Or Sharga

  • Issue: June 1999
  • Designer: E. Carmeli
  • Stamp Size: 25.7 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 388
  • Sheet of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

We do not really know much about his life and work, but Rabbi Or Sharga was renowned as a righteous and holy man, of whom it was said he worked
such marvelous miracles as to amaze even the gentiles. Rabbi Or Sharga was born in the town of Yezd, probably at the beginning of the 18th century, one of the more turbulent periods in the history of Persia. He died in the city of Yezd in 1794. He left behind two letters. The one dated 1782 contains a request to the Jews of Mashhad to assist the Rabbinical envoy*, Eliyahu the Wise Man from the town of Hebron. The second letter written in 1783 is also addressed to the Jews of Mashhad. The letter is a request to force a Jew known as Yizthak Ben Yehuda Cohen to provide for his wife, who was abandoned without any aid in the city of Yezd. In this letter Rabbi Or Sharga requests, that if assistance is not possible, then a deed of divorce should be sent.

It would appear that the forefathers of Or Sharga emigrated to Yezd from the city of Sabzvar in Northern Persia. It is possible that the Jews of Sabzvar emigrated there from the Gilan province and from thesettlements surrounding the city of Qazvin. It is known that Nader Shah (who reigned between 1736-1747) ordered the transfer of a large number of Jews from the Gilan province and the settlements surrounding the city of Qazvin to the city of Kalat Naderi, 200 km north of Mashhad. The transfer probably took place in 1747, with some of the refugees remaining in the city of Sabzvar and settling there, and others who reached Mashhad and Kalat Naderi. This may be the reason for the strong ties that existed between the Jews of Yezd and the Jews of Mashhad.

The tomb of Rabbi Or Sharga is on the outskirts of the city of Yezd and is considered a holy site for both Jews and Moslems.

The Poet Shahin

Shahin is the most important of all Jewish Persian poets and the first who left works of monumental proportion in Judeo-Persian verse (written in the Persian language with Hebrew characters). Shahin had three important works:

  1. Musa-Nameh is a lyrical paraphrase on the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The content is based on these books, the commentaries and stories are collected from Midrashim and Iranian sources about the wars of Moses and his activities. The work includes some ten thousand verses and was composed in 1327.

  2. Ardashir-Nameh is a epic creation based on the book of Esther, on parts of the book of Ezra and on stories from various sources concerning the life of Ahashverosh and his son Koresh. The stories and some of the events have no historical basis, but in terms of literature are considered an excellent epic work. The creation contains some six thousand verses and was composed in 1333.

  3. Genesis-Nameh is the book of Genesis rhymed in Judeo­Persian. It was composed in 1359 and contains some ten thousand verses. The major part of the creation relates to the story of Joseph, his brothers and of Zolaykha's love for Joseph. This part is therefore known as "Joseph and Zolaylkha".

We know nothing of his life, not even his real name - the name Shahin is his literary pseudonym. It is claimed that Shahin lived in the city of Shiraz, but this fact has no scientific basis.

Professor Amnon Netzer
Department of Iranian Studies
Hebrew University, Jerusalem

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Rabbi Or Sharga