Putting Their Faith in Baba Sali and in the IDF

The complexes housing the tombs of the famous rabbis in Netivot, which are usually full of worshippers, have changed since the Negev town found itself within rocket range of the Gaza Strip. The tomb of Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira, known as the Baba Sali, is almost deserted. Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan, known as "the X-Ray Rabbi," has canceled his customary all-night study sessions at his own father's grave, attendance at which is in the thousands.

The crowds of people who come from all over the country to Netivot for blessings from the "X-Ray Rabbi," from the Baba Sali's son Baba Baruch, and from Rabbi Yoram Abergil, have thinned out considerably since the Home Front Command has prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people earlier this week.

Rahamim, from Netivot, came yesterday to the Baba Sali's tomb. "I come to the Baba Sali especially now and ask him to protect us and all the people in the south so no one gets hurt," he said.

Some of the town's rabbis have said that the sanctity of the town and the righteous men buried there would protect it from Grad rockets, which would all land outside of town. A few months ago two Grads hit Netivot for the first time, landing just a few dozen meters from the Baba Sali's grave. "The rabbis can talk about the holiness of the town, but that's not what will save us. The reinforcement of the buildings and the army's actions now will save us from having more victims in the city," one person who lives in the town said.