Baba Sali, Rav Yisrael Abuchatzeira
The name Abuchatzeira has become legendary in fact, story and song among wide circles of modern-day Jews. This is due in no small measure to the impact on the Jewish consciousness of the life of the Baba Sali, the Praying Father of the Moroccan Jewish Community, who made Aliya to Eretz Yisrael in the middle of the twentieth century.
Rav Yisrael Abuchatzeira was the scion of a family of great Talmidei Chachamim (Torah Scholars) and Baalei Mofes (individuals who have the ability through prayer of performing miracles). Rav Shmuel Abuchatzeira, who was described by the Chida as an Ish Elokim Kadosh, a holy man of G-d, was the first to start the Abuhatzeira lineage. Shmuel’s son, Masud (Moshe in Arabic), became the Rav in the Moroccan City of Tafelatlech, and was followed in this position by his son, Yaakov, known as the Abir Yaakov, Prince of Yaakov. His eldest son, named Masud after his grandfather, was the father of Rav Yisrael, the Baba Sali, who soon distinguished himself by his devotion to the study of Torah and service of G-d. His father recognized his potential for greatness, who encouraged him in his studies and where he realized that his son would be given the ability to have his blessings fulfilled.
Preceding the instruction of Pirkei Avot (5:24), which advocates marriage by the age of eighteen by two years, Rav Yisrael was married at the age of sixteen to Precha Amsalem, who served as a worthy Eishet Chayil, a woman of valor, throughout their long marriage.
Rav Yisrael was one of the leaders of the Aliyah of Moroccan Jewry to Eretz Yisrael, which saw the transfer of nearly the entire population of that community to the Holy Land.
The Baba Sali settled in Netivot, adjacent to the Yeshivat HaNegev. Because of his great influence, the Negev began to blossom spiritually, and thousands of Jews returned to their roots. The influence of this great Tzaddik extended far beyond Netivot, the Moroccan Jewish Community and Eretz Yisrael.
He became a cherished leader of the World Jewish Community. He passed away in the month of Shevat in 1984/5744, and was mourned by thousands of Jews, throughout Israel and throughout the world.