Elazar Abu Chatzirah

Rabbi AbuChatzirah
Rabbi Elazar Abu Chatzirah

Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzirah, fondly known as Baba Elazar, was the grandson of the famous Baba Sali who was known for his ability to work miracles and was one of the leaders of the aliya of Moroccan Jews to Israel.

There is an interesting story about how he got the name Elazar. It seems that the Baba Sali had a dream in which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai asked him why is it that there is not a son in the family name Elazar. Elazar was the name of Bar Yochai's son. The Baba Sali then traveled to his son Meir, the father of Elazar Abuchatzirah, and arrived just after the son was born. His son Meir asked his father, the Baba Sali to be the Sanduk at the bris. The Baba Sali replied that he would be happy to be the Sanduk and insisted that he name the baby. Meir agreed. So the name Elazar was given to Elazar Abuchatzirah.

Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzirah was a man of simple piety. He lived in the Beersheva area and was considered one of the special tzadikim in southern Israel.

He merited a special intuition to help people. People from all over the world would come to him for advice, help and blessings for their personal situations, their religious situations, their financial situations, their workplace situations and their medical conditions. He knew the names and specialties of all the top doctors in the world and he would direct people who came to him to the best doctor to heal their illness.

On the days that he would meet people, he would meet with them from 3PM in the afternoon often until the wee hours of the morning, very often until dawn, seeing hundreds of people. Then, the Rav would immerse in the mikveh, daven Shacharis and learn until the doors opened again for receiving people.

Baba Elazar lived and taught Ahavat Yisrael, love of Israel. He was humble, quiet and patient. He respected every person, regardless of dress or external appearance. He always spoke well of Jews and never wanted to hear bad things about them.

He was one of Israel's leading Kabbalists. His whole body, soul, and spirit served God. Although the Rav reached extremely high levels of kedushah and Kabbalah, he was able relate to the most simple Jew, advising him on any topic. Many understood him to be Moshiach Ben Yosef. His brother David Abuchatzirah, also a leading Kabbalist, spoke of him as a spark of Moshiach Ben Yosef

He always wore a hood over his eyes so as not to see anything inappropriate, and had a tunnel dug from his home to the beis medrash, so he would not have to walk in the street. The only women allowed into his room were his Rebbetzin, daughters and sisters. Women who wanted a blessing would give their requests to the gabbai, who would read them out to the Rav; the Rav would then reply to the gabbai, who would relay the answer to the women waiting outside.

The Rav himself was totally detached from this world. On every Wednesday from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur, and throughout the six weeks of Shovavim he fasted. Even when not fasting, he ate sparingly. He did not eat meat, nor did he eat bread during the week. His meal consisted of salad, which he would only eat a morsel of, giving the rest to his chassidim.

Rabbi Cohen, one of the Rav's chassidim explained that inside the Rav's room, you could touch the kedushah. And just sitting in his midst and hearing him make a blessing, pronouncing the words carefully and with kavanah, was in itself a whole mussar sefer.

The Rav was deeply troubled by the phenomenon of people who could not find shidduchim for their children due to a lack of money.

All people care about is money, and that is what they are looking for when making a shidduch. What about yiras Shamayim, middos tovos, why don't they look at that?! There are people full of middos and yiras Shamayim, yet they find it hard to make a shidduch because they don't have money.

One seudas Erev Yom Kippur, the Rav spoke of the importance of asking forgiveness from a fellow Jew.

If you don't ask forgiveness from a person you have wronged, the whole Yom Kippur davening is pointless Properly begging forgiveness doesn't mean sending a fax or a message, but personally approaching the person.

Dahan Arrest
Dahan Arrest

Just after midnight, on July 29, a deranged Rabbi Asher Dahan, one of the people who often sought the advice of the Rabbi Abuchatzirah, came into the Beit Knesset shouting Pikuach Nefesh Pikuach Nefesh!. Everybody, including the shamashim, the assistants, stood aside and let him pass by them to get through the door Rabbi Abuchatzirah's room. Once in his room he stabbed the Tzaddik multiple times on his upper body. Rabbi Abuchatzeira was rushed to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba in critical condition. The paramedics of United Hatzalah found him in traumatic arrest and attempted to resuscitate him, but he died en route to the hospital.

The 42 year old Rabbi Dahan, resident of Eldad, was handed over to the police by Abuchatzirah's chassidim. He was immediately arrested and thrown into jail in solitary confinement. He was ordered by the court to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Rabbi Elazar AbuChatzirah was 70 years old when he was murdered. All who knew him were shaken to the core, deeply saddened by his murder. Many were stunned, distraught or traumatized. The rabbinic elite was in shock. How can one deal with the murder of an Ish Peleh, a wonder man a miracle worker?

Funeral Procession
The Funeral Procession Crowd in Mea Shearim

On Friday, July 29, his funeral procession set out from the Porat Yosef yeshiva in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood. Tens of thousands attended the procession to mourn his death. There Abuchatzeria was eulogized by former Israeli Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Israel's chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar as well as by haredi MKs and ministers, among others. Rabbi Yosef said,

This righteous man was devoted to the people of Israel all his life. eulogy at the beginning of Abuchatzeira's funeral procession. Anyone in trouble would come over to talk to him. All day long he engaged in charity and studying Torah.

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar said

An evil hand has struck a holy man, one of Israel's great men, who led so many along the path of the Torah.

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, focused on the acceptance of bloodshed as a routine occurrence. He said,

Bloodshed in particular has grown more common among our people in recent years, and has become a routine thing. ... We must wake up regarding the education we give the children of Israel, we must teach them to be of good character and treat their fellow man properly, and each individual should make a true effort to rid himself of hate or jealousy, and to increase in love and unity, to avoid anger and strictness, and to be pleasant and forgiving and good, with G-d and man.

Beersheva City Council Member Yaakov Ohayon said,

This is a great loss. We are shocked. The Jewish people have lost one of their supporting pillars

The funeral procession proceeded to the Mount of Olives Cemetery, where the Baba Sali, and his father was buried. His grave is next to that of his father.

The Grave

Prime Minister Netanyahu, upon hearing of Abuchatzirah's murder said

The rabbi was a spiritual leader to so many Israelis, he helped them with advice and charity, and very often he did this in secret

In the merit and santification of the memory of Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzirah, who lived his life consciously aware of the presence of Hashem, each of us must accept upon ourselves a commitment to strengthen our middot, first not to express any negative emotions and after disciplined practice not to even feel any negative emotions. For where there is the conscious awareness of Hashem, there is no negativity.