The Family in Morocco

by Yacov Tal Toledano & Ted Callaghan

Morocco was the garden where the Toledano Family roots took hold and strengthened. From the late 16th century into the 18th century, Morocco was a dynamic place. After Muslim Spain was conquered many Muslims and Jews had migrated to Morocco. The proximity to an expanding Europe presented opportunities for trade. The country suffered from disunity and foreign invasions along the coastline. Strong rulers were needed to unite Morocco and fight invaders. The Alaouite dynasty, who remains the Morocco royal family to this day, produced these leaders during this time. Isma'il Ibn Sharif was a prime example. He ruled from 1672 to 1727. In addition to his many notable accomplishments he is said to have fathered over 800 children!

In 1594 Daniel6 Toledano emigrated from Salonika to Fez with his two sons, Hayyim7 and Joseph7. He was 24 years of age. One can imagine that the beginning was humble and difficult. Rabbi Daniel, however, eventually became the Head of the Yeshiva of Fez. He achieved renowned status and became known under several appellations, Head of the Castilian Scholars, "Hamekubal Haeloki" and "Daniel Harishon" (Daniel the First). In less than three generations Toledanos had risen to positions of leadership and influence in religious and civic affairs.

Daniel6's sons Hayyim7 and Joseph7 moved to Meknes. Our records show that Daniel6 died in Fez. Hayyim7 Toledano (Daniel6, Joseph5) was Chief Rabbi and Dayyan in Meknes. His brother, Joseph7 Toledano (Daniel6, Joseph5), was also Rabbi and Dayan.

An education at a Yeshiva must have been valuable in 17th century Morocco. While the themes were God, Torah and Talmud, there were a series of exceptional skills and qualities that one could develop. The obvious basics of reading, writing, learning to study and ethics were a strong foundation. Eventually one progressed to how to pose a question or an argument; how to evaluate another’s argument; how to cede to a superior logic; how to disagree objectively; how to separate fact from opinion…how to think. Sacrifice, self discipline, humility, honesty, diplomacy, grace and confidence were practiced along the way.

There were many callings for those who had benefitted from such an education. The obvious direction was to become a religious leader. Many family members authored rabbinic books and devoted themselves to scholarly purposes. Habib8 Toledano (Hayyim7, Daniel6, Joseph5, Toledano4, Toledano3, Joseph2 Toledano, Daniel1) was known as Habib 'He-Hasid' ("the pious"). He was the 'nagid' (prince or leader) of the Jews of Meknes between 1620 and 1660. He was also head of Parnassim (authorized legal authorities) that established rules for the Jewish community. Habib 8 was highly regarded by the Moroccan authorities. In 1640 he was a signatory to a 'takkanah' (legislative enactment). He succeeded in strengthening the law by using his influence to obtain a royal decree supporting his takkanah.

Rabbi Hayyim9 Toledano (Habib8, Hayyim7, Daniel6, Joseph5) was born c. 1627 in Fez, and died 1680 in Meknes. Hayyim9 was son of Rabbi Habib (he-Hasid). He was a Kabbalist. Habib9 copied many kabalistic and ethical works contributing to their circulation in the west. Juda10 Toledano was a scholar of Meknes and was known as great Talmudist. Rabbi Habib10 Toledano (Hayyim9, Habib8, Hayyim7, Daniel6, Joseph5) was Rabbi and Dayyan in Meknes. He constrtucted the first genealogical Toledano family tree. Much of the ancient documentation that exists todays is the result of his work and desire to preserve information for future generations.

Rabbi Aaron10 Toledano [MaHaRAaT] (Moshe9, Barukh8, Joseph7, Daniel6, Joseph5) was Rabbi in Meknes. Toward the end of his life he was appointed rabbi in Tangier. When Christians were excluded from Tetuan in 1772, a number of European consuls established their consulates in Tangier. They were followed by their Jewish interpreters who enjoyed certain privileges in that capacity. However the majority of the community lived in poverty. It was headed by the Dayyan R. Aaron Toledano.

Only the most important Rabbis have the shorthand identification. MaHaRAaT stands for Ma = Morenou (our teacher), Ha = Harav (the rabbi) R= Rabbi, A= Aaron, T= Toledano. His son Rabbi Abraham Toledano was Rabbi in Tangier after his father's death. He settled in Tangier where he became public notary and Ritual Slaughterer.

Other Toledanos applied their skills as counselors to the King and as diplomats. Still others became merchants and entered the delicate business of trading with the royal family. Rabbi Daniel8 Toledano (Joseph7, Daniel6, Joseph5) was Rabbi and Dayyan in Meknes. His considerable skills in statesmanship led to his appointment as Counselor to Muley Isma'il. Rabbi Daniel8 also fought Shabbateanism for 10 years of his life (1665-1675) with his associate, Rabbi Aaron ha-Sab'uni and his son-in-law, Rabbi Jacob Sasportas. His interests included the law. He co-signed legal decisions with his cousin, Rabbi Hayyim8 ben Habib7.

Daniel8’s children inherited his skills. His daughter, Rachel9, married Rabbi Jacob Sasportas. She accompanied him in numerous diplomatic posts and missions in Amsterdam, London, Hamburg and Leghorn, Italy. Moshe9 was one of the favorites at court. He traded with the European countries, especially in firearms. His son, Ambassador Joseph9 Toledano, was also a counselor to Muley Isma'il. The King sought to develop foreign trade and to exchange Christian captives for arms and other goods. He sent Joseph9 to the Netherlands to conduct negotiations which would lead to a peace treaty and a commercial agreement between the two countries. Joseph9’s mission was successful and the treaty was ratified in 1683. In 1688 Joseph presented his credentials as Moroccan ambassador to the States General.

Counselor Hayyim9 Toledano (Daniel8, Joseph7, Daniel6, Joseph5) was appointed Ambassador to England and Holland, and Royal Counselor to Muley Isma'il. He accompanied his brother Joseph in mission to the Netherlands to conduct negotiations which would lead to a peace treaty and a commercial agreement between the countries. Once the treaty was ratified in the Netherlands, Hayyim9 returned to Meknes and convinced the king to accept its conditions and sign. Pinhas9 Toledano lent money to the royal family in partnership with his brother, Abraham.

Abraham9 Toledano was a wealthy merchant who traded with the royal family. He was associated with his brother Hayyim in various business transactions and was favored by the royal family. He was, however, imprisoned in Sale in July 1704 by Mulay Ali, son of Muley Isma'il. His brother Hayyim obtained his release by paying a high ransom.

By the middle of the 19th century Toledanos spread to other cities both in Morocco and abroad. Many made Aliya and settled in Israel. The family has expanded to Europe, the Americas, Israel and Australia. It has produced diplomats, artists, intellectuals, educators, entrepreneurs, merchants, etc. More importantly it has contributed people of high moral character to the world.

Back to: The Descendantes of Daniel Toledano