Rabbi Azaria Basis, the Rabbi of Rosh HaAyin, was brought to rest yesterday at the age of 74. The Rav, who was born in Rada, Yemen, made Aliyah during Operation Magic Carpet and was active throughout his life in preserving Yemenite Jewry’s traditions and customs against ignorance, forgetfulness and deliberate attempts at making them forget.
When he taught the story of the Exodus from Egypt, he dwelled on one moment in which the Israelites sang, at the splitting of the Red Sea: “זֶה אֵלִי וְאַנְוֵהוּ, אֱלֹוקי אָבִי וַאֲרֹומְמֶנְהוּ” (He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him).
This famous verse is made of two parts, he explained. G-d must first of all be yours, “He is my G-d’. One cannot count only on his fathers’ merits and his pedigree. One must learn, develop, toil and receive a personal experience by himself. You cannot simply be satisfied with the second part of the verse, ‘my father’s G-d’, and say that your fathers were righteous, and not do anything on your own. Even if you come from a glorious dynasty, you must find your own part, by yourself. At an age in which many are satisfied with saying “My grandfather was a Rabbi”, he asked: “And what about you? And what about your grandson?”.
In his memory.