Elazar Abuhatzeira

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Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira
Personal details
Born 9 August 1948
Rissani, Morocco
Died 29 July 2011
Be'er Sheva, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Residence Be'er Sheva, Israel
Parents Rabbi Meir and Simcha Abuhatzeira

Elazar Abuhatzeira (9 August 1948 – 29 July 2011) was an Orthodox Sefardi rabbi and kabbalist, known among his followers as the "Baba Elazar."

He was born in Rissani, Morocco to Rabbi Meir and Simcha Abuhatzeira, was the grandson of the Baba Sali, Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, and the brother of Rabbi David Chai Abuhatzeira of Nahariya.

He made aliyah to Israel in 1966, remaining in Beersheba, where he ran a yeshiva.

Abuhatzeira was known for his work and influence with business and political leaders, as well as his study of Kabbalah. Abuhatzeira, who had studied at Porat Yosef Yeshiva, had a following as a spiritual leader.

He was one of Israel's leading kabbalists, and appeared in a list of the country's wealthiest people, with estimated assets of $80 million in 2011.[1]

Abuhatzeira was known for wearing a cloak whose long hood covered most of his face, reportedly so he would not see any "immodest images of women". He had a tunnel dug between his home in Beersheba and the yeshiva he headed, where he received believers.[2][3]

Fraud and tax evasion claims[edit]

In 1997, an investigation by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, led by the journalist Yossi Bar-Moha, linked several incidents of corruption to Abuhatzeira. The articles further claimed that Abuhatzeira tried to impress people, persuaded them to pay him in exchange for a blessing, and threatened them with a curse if necessary.[4] The 1997 report claimed that Abuhatzeira had sold land designated for a religious girls school instead of building the school, and was evading municipal property taxes.[5] Bar-Moha discovered that the Rabbi's bank account contained NIS 250 million in gifts and contributions.[6]

The articles prompted a police investigation against Abuhatzeira. In 2003, Abuhatzeira was ordered to pay NIS 100 million to the Israel Tax Authority on money he received from followers, but in the end reached settlement to pay NIS 20 million to charitable organizations.[7][8]

By 2004, Bar Moha claimed that the Rabbi's income had grown to NIS 500 million (USD 141 million in 2004 values), and he filed a joint petition with the Progressive Judaism Movement to the Israeli Supreme Court, demanding the tax settlement to be cancelled. The petition was dismissed.[6]

In 2009, a man was indicted for threatening to kill Abuhatzeira, claiming that the rabbi made him a medical promise that hadn't come true.[1]

In 2010 Rabbi Abuhatzeira was accused by New York Jews of charging hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange promised miracles that never came to fruition [4] The prosecutor in Brooklyn subsequently opened an investigation, and Abuhatzeira stopped traveling to the United States as a result.[1] Yossi Bar Moha, the journalist who investigated the Rabbi in 1997, claimed that "Elazar Abuhatzeira is a charlatan, con man and impostor who takes advantage of people's innocence, exploits them and brings to the verge of poverty". One of the students of the Rabbi defended him, saying that the Rabbi is humble and modest, and would never do such a thing.[5] Other disciples acknowledge that the rabbi was wealthy, but insisted he used his wealth for the poor, citing, for instance, a huge house owned by the rabbi which included a soup kitchen where hundreds of poor people were fed on a daily basis.[1]

Death[edit]

Elazar Abuhatzeira was murdered on 28 July 2011 in his Beersheba yeshiva, while hosting guests for consultation. According to an initial police investigation, the rabbi was stabbed in the upper body after receiving the killer for a private audience. The attacker, 42-year old Asher Dahan of El'ad, was said to have been unhappy with marital advice the rabbi had given him. Dahan stabbed Abuhatzeira in the upper body before being subdued by his students, who handed him over to police. Magen David Adom personnel attempted to recuscitate him before rushing him by ambulance to Soroka Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.[3][9]

Abuhatzeira's funeral was held in Jerusalem on 29 July, and the rabbi was buried on the Mount of Olives. The funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people, including Israel's chief rabbis, haredi ministers, and Knesset members. Eulogies were delivered at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Geula.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ettinger, Yair. Murder worries advice-giving rabbis, Haaretez, 4 August 2011
  2. ^ Abuhatzeira killer sent for psychiatric exam, Jerusalem Post, 30 July 2011
  3. ^ a b "Rabbi stabbed to death in Beersheba". Ynetnews. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Mozgovaya, Natasha (26 February 2010). "N.Y. Jews accuse Be'er Sheva Kabbalist of massive fraud". Haaretz. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Natasha Mozgovaya, 18 February 2010 U.S. prosecutors probing Israeli rabbi over fraud, Haaretz
  6. ^ a b Shahar Ilan. The kabbala is taxable. Haaretz, 06.24.2004
  7. ^ Alush, Tzvi (23 September 2003). המקובל אלעזר אבוחצירא: ישלם מס כמקובל. Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Tal Rosner, 'Rabbis must pay taxes’, YNetnews, March 2003
  9. ^ "Popular kabbalah rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira stabbed to death in Be'er Sheva". Haaretz. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  10. ^ "Slain Beersheba rabbi laid to rest". Ynetnews. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 4 August 2011.