Rabbis Make Peace With 'X-ray Rabbi' Following Election Fallout

The leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who less than a year ago accused kabbalist Rabbi Yaakov Israel Ifergan of paganism and called him a "fiend," have decided to make peace with him.

During the stormy election campaign in Netivot, the Ashkenazi rabbis warned that anyone associated with Ifergan, who is known as the "X-ray rabbi," would have no part in the hereafter.

The attack followed Ifergan's decision to withdraw from the Haredi bloc in the local elections and run for town council on a separate list.

Last week, on the eve of the Days of Awe, Ifergan's attempts at reconciliation succeeded, when the rabbis who attacked him - Aharon Leib Steinman, Haim Kanyevsky, Nissim Karelitz and Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz - agreed to host him in their homes.

Last November these rabbis signed a letter accusing Ifergan of evil doings that "bring darkness on the town," "breaching fences of holiness," "sewing divisiveness among the God-fearing and undermining the rabbis' leadership." The letter also threatened that anyone associated with Ifergan would have no part in the next world.

Haredi arbiter Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and Ifergan's archrival, Rabbi Issachar Meir, head of Netivot's Negev Yeshiva, also signed the letter.

Ultra-Orthodox journalist Yanky Bichler, who played a part in the reconciliation, told Haaretz that the rabbis' objection to Ifergan softened when they heard of his charity, and the kollel and Haredi elementary school he led in Netivot. Bichler said the rabbis commended Ifergan and "treated him royally."

A few months ago Ifergan made peace with Netivot's mayor, Yehiel Zohar, who had also fallen out with him during the election campaign.

Recently their relations were tested when the municipality demanded that Ifergan pay a large debt he owed and threatened to confiscate his bank accounts. But sources close to Ifergan said he paid and ended the conflict.