Chacham Mordechai Maslaton, zt”l


Leader in NY’s Sephardic Kehillah

The American Sephardic community is deeply mourning the sudden petirah on Shabbos of Chacham Mordechai Maslaton, zt”l, a leader and protector of the ancient mesorah in Brooklyn’s Sephardic community. He was 75.

A tremendous talmid chacham who was comfortable in all areas of Shas and Halachah, Rabbi Maslaton was renowned among his thousands of talmidim and admirers for the lengths he would go for them, or the time he gave away to ensure the integrity of kehillah.

“All the Torah that you see in the community really comes from him,” exclaimed Rabbi Shlomo Diamond, Rosh Kollel in Deal, N.J., at the levayah on Sunday. “He laid the groundwork.”

Together with Chacham Yosef Harari-Raful, Rosh Yeshivah of Ateret Torah in Flatbush and an old friend from their days at Yeshivat Porat Yosef, Rabbi Maslaton guided the community to the height of Torah and yiras Shamayim it is today. He did it with love and firmness — love to his congregants and firmness to outside influences.

Rabbi Rachamim Falack, a rebbi at Yeshivat Ohel Torah in Flatbush, recalled meeting Rabbi Maslaton 22 years ago and being captured by his wide heart.

“He had his own style; nobody has his style,” Rabbi Falack said. “His care was unbelievable. He would go to the end of the world for somebody.”

Born on 8 Iyar 5699/April 27, 1939, in Brooklyn to Joe and Sophia Maslaton, Mordechai was named for paternal grandfather Chacham Mordechai Maslaton, the famed Rav of Ahi Ezer.

At age 17, Mordechai ended up in Lakewood, from where Harav Aharon Kotler sent him to learn with Harav Moshe Eisemann of Vineland. He later went to learn in Eretz Yisrael, becoming the first American to study in Yeshivat Porat Yosef, then headed by Chacham Ezra Attia, zt”l, in the late 1950s. His rebbeim were Chacham Shalom Cohen and Chacham Shimon Baadani, today members of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah of Shas.

When Rabbi Maslaton decided to return to the United States, Chacham Baadani departed from him on no uncertain terms.

“You are going back to America,” he said. “The only way to succeed is to frequent the yeshivos.”

Rabbi Maslaton married his Rebbetzin, Susie Kohen, and came to Brooklyn to revive the glorious mesorah. He accomplished what he set out to do, Rabbi Falack said, because he focused on people’s financial wellbeing and their children’s chinuch.

Rabbi Maslaton was niftar suddenly on Shabbos, felled by a massive heart attack. Nearly a dozen maspidim spoke at his levayah, at Yeshivah Emek Hatorah on Ocean Parkway.

Kevurah is scheduled to be on Monday at Har Hamenuchos.

Rabbi Maslaton is survived by his Rebbetzin, Susie, and children Mrs. Sophia Simantov; Reb Yosef, Reb Ezra, Reb Moshe, Reb Eliyahu, Reb Meir, Reb David, Mrs. Rivka Benarroch, Mrs. Dinah Semmah and Mrs. Esther Batya Sasson. Shivah will be observed at 1853 East 4th St. in Flatbush.

Yehi zichro baruch.