Love of the Land

For the week ending 13 September 2008 / 13 Elul 5768

Netivot Tomb of the Baba Sali

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Rabbi Yisrael Abu Chatzira's tomb in the southern city of Netivot has been attracting large numbers of worshippers since 1984. The spiritual leader of North African Jews who gained a reputation as a miracle worker through his prayers and blessings was descended from Rabbi Shmuel Albaz who lived in Damascus where he studied with the disciples of the Ari Zal. After a miraculous crossing of the sea from Jaffa to Constantinople on a mat (chatzira in Arabic), he changed his name to Abu Chatzira ("father of the mat").

Baba Sali, as he was respectfully called, came to Eretz Yisrael in the early fifties and first settled in Yavneh. From there he moved to Ashkelon and ended up in Netivot where he is buried.

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