Baba Salé is one of the most well-known Jewish rabbis among both Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities, particularly considering his devotion, his miracles, and his attachment to the customs and religious traditions of the Israelis.
His name is Israel Abehassera (or Abouhatsera), but he is known under the nickname “Baba Salé” which in English means ” the praying father”. This is the nickname that was stuck with him from a really young age, because he never stopped praying, night and day. He was also known for his short sleep and frequent fasting.
Baba Salé was born in 1889 in the region of Rissani in southern Morocco into a family of rabbis known as miracle workers. His grandfather, Yaakov Ben Massoud, was nicknamed Abehassera after he survived drowning during a trip to the Holy Land, thanks to a mat that enabled him to reach Syria. Baba Salé is the maternal grandfather of Moroccan Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, president of the Rabbinical Court of the Jews of Morocco.
Baba Salé spent his life as a Sufi mystic, according to the method of the “Kabbalah”. From a young age, he gained the trust and respect of Moroccan Jews who appointed him director of the religious school (Yeshiva) which was supervised by his grandfather when he was only 17 years old. He was also appointed judge (Dayan) in the Hebrew courts of the Kingdom at the age of 28.
Baba Salé’s fame was notably reinforced thanks to the many miracles he performed, which enabled him to have many followers and disciples throughout the world, especially in France, the United States and Israel, which he visited from time to time, before deciding to settle there in 1963, thus becoming the spiritual father of all Jews residing in the Hebrew state. His portrait was hung in every home.
Many people bear witness to Baba Salé’s supernatural ability to heal the sick, to solve unsolvable problems and to enable infertile women to bear children, etc. He was the spiritual father of all Jews living in the Hebrew state. Thus his house in Netivot in the Negev became a favorite destination for all the miserable and unable to find solutions to their problems, before his fame reached politicians, artists, celebrities and athletes who began to resort to his blessing before embarking on their projects.
Baba Salé survived until the age of 95. He died at his home in 1984. More than 100,000 people attended his funeral. His home became a place of pilgrimage for all those seeking the blessing of a Moroccan rabbi who held the love and respect of all.