Daily Israel Report

Baba Sali’s Grandson Murdered

Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira, grandson of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, stabbed to death in Be’er Sheva. Funeral at 11 in Jerusalem.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/29/2011, 1:35 AM

Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira
Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira
Behadrei Hareidim

Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira, the grandson of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira (also known as the “Baba Sali”), was stabbed to death in Be’er Sheva late Thursday night. The funeral will take place  at 11 a.m., proceeding from the Porat Yoseph Yeshiva on Malchei Yisrael Streeet in Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives.

According to reports, the rabbi, who was known as the “Baba Elazar,” was stabbed in a yeshiva in the city while receiving worshippers who came to get a blessing from him. One of them entered the room the rabbi was in and stabbed him several times in the chest and in the stomach.

The rabbi, who was critically wounded, was taken by Magen David Adom paramedics to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, but died of his wounds on the way to the hospital. The Baba Elazar was 70 years old.

Voice of Israel radio reported that the rabbi's followers were able to capture the assailant and hold him down until police arrived. The attacker has been named as Asher Dahan of Elad. Hareidi-religious news outlets report that Dahan was suffering mental illness, and that his condition had recently deteriorated despite psychological care.

Two years ago, a man was arrested on suspicion of planning to stab the rabbi. At the time, the rabbi refused to file a complaint with the police, but his associates filed a complaint in his name.

"We're in shock," the rabbi's relatives told Arutz Sheva. "It is difficult to grasp such a horrific murder. There are no words."

Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira’s grandfather, the Baba Sali, was a Jewish Moroccan rabbi who was universally revered and believed to  have mystic healing powers.

The Baba Sali lived a spartan life devoid of material interests, often fasting and praying throughout the day. He was also one of the main leaders of the immigration to Israel and helped bring nearly the entire Jewish community from Morocco to live in the Holy Land.

His home in Netivot was a site for pilgrimages of people seeking his blessing and advice during his lifetime and more than 100,000 people attended his funeral in 1984; since that time, his tomb has become a shrine for pilgrims (click here for photo essay) and petitioners who come often to pray for assistance and intervention in their daily troubles. Many bring their three-year-old sons to his tomb for the traditional "chalaka", i.e. first hair-cutting.