Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyah Medini was born in Jerusalem on the seventh day of Cheshvan, in the year 5593 (1833), or perhaps a year or two later. Originally he had only one first name Chizkiyah, but when he was once gravely ill, the name "Chaim" ("Life") was added to his name, as is customary in such a case.

He was born into a distinguished Sephardic family. His father's name was Rabbi Rafael Eliyahu, and his mother's Kalu Vida. The boy showed extraordinary qualities of character and intelligence from his earliest youth. He studied Torah with unusual diligence and devotion. His brilliant mind and memory helped him absorb knowledge with ease. His teachers were some of the most outstanding Rabbis of Jerusalem, particularly the Rishon Mion (Sephardic Chief Rabbi) Yitzchak Kubo and Rabbi Joseph Nissim. Burla, Head of the Beth Din of Jerusalem.

In the year 5613 (1853) Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyah's father passed away. The burden of supporting the entire family, including his own wife Rivkah, his widowed mother and two young sisters fell upon the twenty year old son. However, the young scholar had never learned how to cope with such a responsibility, for he knew only his books and studies. There was nothing for him to do but to follow the advice of the elders of his community to move to Constantinople, where he had rich relatives, rich both in learning and in worldly goods.

Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyah Medini was warmly welcomed in Constantinople. The Jewish community soon recognized that the young Rabbi from Jerusalem who had settled in their midst was an outstanding scholar. The local Rabbis and there were many great scholars among them - were delighted to discuss Talmudic topics with him. He was also offered to become a member (Dayan) of the Beth Din. This he refused, wishing to devote all his time to his studies of the Talmud, and also Kabbala, and to the writing of books in the field of his studies.

In 5625 (1865) his book Michtav Chizkiyahu appeared. It contained his interpretations and comments on the six orders of the Mishnah and on certain sections of the Talmud. This work clearly showed the great erudition of the author in the entire Talmudic literature, and placed him among the foremost Rabbis and scholars of Turkey. His fame spread far and wide.

For thirteen years he lived, studied and taught in Constantinople. The burden of his responsibilities became too much for him. He longed for peace and quiet, to be able to study and write undisturbed. The opportunity came when a wealthy Jewish merchant from the Crimea (in southern Russia) arrived in Constantinople on business and offered Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyah Medini to become the spiritual leader of the Crimean Jews. The merchant promised the Rabbi adequate support and ample time for study and writing.

At that time, as for generations past, the Jews of Crimea were without a spiritual leader. They were simple but pious and hardworking people. Their cultural level wa's not high. Here was an opportunity as well as a challenge, and Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyah Medini (ChaChaM) accepted it.

The ChaChaM was about 33 years old when he settled in Karasubazar, in the Crimea, in the year 5627 (1867). He was received with the respect accorded to a venerable sage, and soon won also the affection and devotion of his flock. During the next 33 years of his life he lived among the Crimean Jews and was their devoted and dedicated leader. He established Yeshivoth and spread the knowledge of Torah among the Crimean Jews, so that their cultural position was raised to a level unknown in that part of the world before. The ChaChaM's influence was enormous. His noble character and personal life were a constant source of inspiration to his community. Despite his great learning and fame, he was a very humble person, who took a personal interest in anyone seeking his help or advice. It is characteristic of him that he chose as sons-in-law for his three daughters outstanding scholars who were at the same time plain artisans. One of his sons-in-law was a shoemaker, the second a tailor, and the third a hatter! His noble character is also evidenced from his last will and testawent.

The ChaChaM was a man of striking appearance, with a long white patriarchal beard and a saintly countenance. He was revered not only by the Jews, but also, by the non-Jews, who considered him a G‑dly man.

In 5628 (1868) his only son died. The ChaChaM wrote a special book in memory of his son. He called the book Or Li ("Light Unto Me"), and published it in Smyrna in 5634 (1874). In his great humility the author published the book anonymously. It contains responsa and Talmudic interpretations.

His greatest work, for which he is most famous, is his Halachic encyclopedia in eighteen volumes, the Sede Chemed. Most of the volumes were published in his lifetime, some of them several times, and the rest -after his death.

In this gigantic work, the author set for himself the task of presenting in a clear and comprehensive form each and every Jewish law and Halachah, tracing it to its sources in the Talmud with the discussions and treatment of the subjects in subsequent Rabbinic literature, down to his own time. It is a treasure-store of Talmudic and Rabbinic knowledge, which at once became most popular throughout the Jewish world. The ChaChaM became a recognized authority on Jewish Law, and his opinions and decisions were eagerly sought by Rabbis in all parts of the world.

Some of the wealthiest Russian Jews, knowing that the ChaChaM did not welcome monetary donations, sent him rare volumes and books in the field of Halacha to help him develop and perfect his great compendium, and increase the yield of his gifted mind.

In addition to the works mentioned, the ChaChaM wrote a Halachic work entitled Pka'ath Sadeh (Jerusalem, 1900) ; Sefer Bakashoth (Odessa, 1879), containing Piyutim (liturgical poems) which oriental Jewish communities included in their services on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The latter was republished in an enlarged edition under the name Ne'im Zemiroth (Warsaw, 1886). He is the author also of several collections of responsa which appeared in various books by other authors.

In 1899 the ChaChaM decided to return to his native Holy Land. He was received with much honor in Jerusalem, but soon afterwards he was called to Hebron, where the title of "Chacham Bashi" (Chief Rabbi) and Head of the Beth Din was bestowed upon him. He immediately established a Yeshiva in the city of our Patriarchs, where he gave regular lectures, and spread the knowledge of Torah also among the lay members of the Jewish community.

On erev Shabbos, which was also erev Chanukah (Kislev 24th), in the year 5665 (1905) Rabbi Chairri Chizkiyah Medini passed away and he was laid to rest in this most ancient city in the Holy Land, the resting place also of our Patriarchs.