The role of Rishon LeZion, otherwise known as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, seems to include wearing a traditional robe and turban. Related to this question, this outfit is distinct from the typical black-and-white clothing/black-hat attire that many contemporary Israeli Sephardic rabbis assume. Where did this custom come from? The distinctive flowery design sewn on the robe seems to have started with R. Ovadia Yosef, as I have not seen any picture of an earlier Sephardic chief rabbi with that design, but it has been continued to this day.

Is there any significance to the design? How and why did it become the Rishon LeZion's official outfit? Is there any documentation on this outfit?

R. Yitzhak Yosef

R. Shlomo Amar

R. Mordechai Eliyahu

R. Ovadia Yosef

R. Yitzhak Nissim

R. Benzion Uziel

1 Answer 1


This did not start with the post Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. Nor did it start with Ovadia Yosef. Rabbis throughout the orient wore this type of garb regularly, as their dress reflected the culture they were in. So for example, you have Rabbi Aharon Ben Simeon, former Chief Rabbi of Egypt (until 1921 i believe)

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The mantle of the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel is to reflect the way that Sephardic Chakhamim have typically dressed, rather than cow towing to "proper" Ashkenazic dressing style of black suits, white shirts, and hats. There were many varieties, some more ornate, others humbler, but all were usually influenced by the locale from which they claim.

So for example, you can see the following in other Sephardic head Rabbis:

Dress of Former Chief Rabbi of Morocco Raphael Ankawa

enter image description here

Mashiach Gul and Daniel Gul president of Afghan Jewish community in Palestine, 1917

enter image description here

  • Lol. Why would anybody name their son Mashiach? Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 22:34
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    @user6591: and really not afraid of an ayin hara. Mashiach ben Yosef perhaps (Ben Porat Alei Ayin). Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 0:39
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    Mashiach was traditionally used as a first name among many sephardim.
    – Kordovero
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 0:50
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    I know two people with the name Mashiach, both sephardim, its not so out of the ordinary Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 5:02
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    @Emetv'Shalom, You don't know how many times I was told to name a son Dovid, raise him sefardi and have him name his son Moshiach ...
    – Yishai
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 21:15

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