|Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira|
Exterior of the tomb of the Baba Sali in Netivot, Israel
|Born||26 September 1889
|Died||8 January 1984
|Parents||Rabbi Mas'ud Abuhatzeira|
Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira (Hebrew: ישראל אבוחצירא), known as the Baba Sali (Arabic: بابا صلى, Hebrew: באבא סאלי, lit. "Praying Father") (1889–1984) was a leading Moroccan Sephardic rabbi and kabbalist who was renowned for his alleged ability to work miracles through his prayers. His burial place in Netivot, Israel has become a shrine for prayers and petitioners.
Rabbi Israel was the scion of a distinguished family of Sephardic Torah scholars and tzadikkim who were also known as baalei mofet (miracle workers). He is the grandson of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hasira. The patriarch of this family was Rabbi Shmuel Abuhatzeira. Born in the land of Israel, Rabbi Shmuel lived in Damascus for a while, where he studied Torah together with Rabbi Chaim Vital. In Shem Hagedolim, the Chida described Rabbi Shmuel as "an ish Elokim kadosh (a holy man of God). Wise people speak of his might and wonders in saving the Jewish community from many difficulties."
Rabbi Shmuel and his family eventually moved to the city of Tafilalt, Morocco, where Rabbi Shmuel's son Mas'ud (Moshe in Hebrew) became the rav of the city. Rabbi Mas'ud's son, Yaakov, known as the Avir Yaakov, succeeded his father as rabbi of Tafilalt. Rabbi Yaakov's eldest son, Mas'ud, became an av beit din in the same city, and it was here that his son, Yisrael, the Baba Sali, was born.
Israel was born on Rosh Hashanah 5650 (1889) and grew up in a home permeated with Torah study and holy behavior. His family lived on a large estate which included a yeshiva where young scholars studied night and day. The beit din (rabbinical court) of his father, Rabbi Mas'ud, was also located on the premises. His older brother, Rabbi David, studied by himself in an attic. On the rare times that Rabbi Mas'ud traveled, he would cover his eyes with his cape to avoid seeing inappropriate sights.
As a child, Yisrael was a diligent Torah scholar, studying day and night. At the age of 12, he began to fast during the six weeks of Shovavim. Knowing his parents would not let him continue, he hid his fasting from them, but his brother, David, noticed how weak and pale he was. Though David urged him to stop, Yisrael continued his fasting.
After his bar mitzvah, he entered his family's yeshiva, where the students rose at midnight for Tikkun Chatzot and then studied Kabbalistic works until dawn, when they would go to the mikveh, pray the morning service, and eat breakfast. This was followed by in-depth Gemara study, the afternoon prayers, and a shiur in Shulchan Aruch.
At the age of 16, he married Freha Amsalem.
During World War I, after France had taken over many parts of North Africa, Mulai Muhammad led a rebellion against the French in the region near Tafilalt and drove out the occupying army. Three years later, the French came back to shell the rebel's strongholds, which were located near the Jewish districts.
As the conflict increased, Mulai Muhammed placed a ban on anyone entering or leaving Tafilalt. His campaign against the French extended to the Jews as well; he accused several Jews of being French collaborators and had them executed. Shortly after Hanukkah 1920, Mulai Muhammed issued a decree to massacre the Jews of Tafilalt.
Rabbi David, Rabbi Yisrael's brother and now rav of Tafilalt, was trying to calm his frightened townsmen when Mulai Muhammed's soldiers came to arrest him. He was strapped to a cannon and shot to death. The Jews of Tafilalt had to bribe the rebel leader to release his body for burial.
After this incident, the Jewish population of Tafilalt fled to the nearby city of Arfoud, and then to the city of Boudnib. In Boudnib, Rabbi Yisrael was asked to succeed his brother as rav, but he refused. He wanted to travel to Palestine to print his brother's sefarim. In 1922, Rabbi Israel journeyed through Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt (where he visited the grave of his grandfather, the Abir Yaakov), then boarded a ship to Jaffa port and set out for Jerusalem.
He stayed in Jerusalem for a year, living at the home of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Shloush, who helped him publish his brother's writings. Then he returned to Boudnib, where he accepted the position of Rav and av beit din of the Jewish community there.
Funeral and tomb
He died in 1984 (4 Shevat 5744). His funeral was attended by an estimated 100,000 people. His gravesite in Netivot has become a popular pilgrimage site in Israel. On the anniversary of his death, many thousands come to visit his tomb.Two other people are buried nearby. His second wife, Miriam Abuhatzeira, is buried in an adjoining wing of the Baba Sali Tomb as well as David Bouskila, the builder and founder of the tomb complex. The Baba Sali's third wife, Rabanit Simi Abuhatzeira, who married Baba Sali when she was 15, is still living in Netivot.
- "The Baba Sali, Rav Yisrael Abuhatzeira, zt"l". Yated Ne'eman.
- http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=30952 Israeli Pilgrims to Egyptian Grave Met With Hostility, David E. Miller, December 28, 2010.
- "Baba Sali". Go Israel. Retrieved 14 December 2011.