The anti-Messianic group Yad L'achim has been using the Chief Rabbi of the City of Ramle, Rav. Yechiel Abuchatzeira, to promise prayers for marital partners, pregnancies, financial prosperity and more to anyone making a donation to their organization.
According to Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Deputy Minister of Religious Services, it is illegal for rabbis employed by the state to raise funds for an organization that is actively trying to prevent missionary or Messianic activities. The Deputy Minister made the announcement in response to a complaint by the Hiddush organization for religious freedom against the Yad L'achim fund-raising campaign.
Rabbi Abuchatzeira was also rebuked for using his position as a government employee to help raise money for the anti-Messianic organization "in a way prohibited by law and unworthy of a municipality Rabbi." Yad L'achim was told to take down the problematic ad campaign (pictured), which included a link where visitors could make a donation to the organization in order to receive a blessing from the Rabbi.
Abuchatzeira is nephew to Rabbi Israel Abuhatzeira, famously known as the Baba Sali, a leading Moroccan Sephardic Kabbalist renowned for his alleged ability to work miracles through his prayers. His protégé nephew Yechiel Abuhatzeira, also a Kabbalist, promised to work similar miracles by praying for Yad L'achim donors at the grave of Rabbi Jonathan Ben Uzziel, a 1st century sage who wrote a large part of the Kabbalist literature.
The Yad L'achim miracles-for-dollars campaign was designed specifically for Tu B'Av, the Jewish holiday which fell on August 11 this year and is thought to be a favorable day for singles wishing to get married. Multitudes of Israelis are lured into these schemes.
Organizations like Yad L'achim are well known for taking advantage of people through these kinds of manipulative campaigns. Over the years, Yad L'achim, together with other similar sects, have promised everything from long life to male children for a price.
Some Orthodox political parties offer supernatural benefits for voting for them, in spite of a Knesset political campaign law stating that "swearing, cursing, excommunicating, banning, vowing, or promises of blessings are punishable by fine and up to five years in prison."
But the government has been in no rush to enforce the laws against these manipulative practices for fear of losing political support from the religious sector. This week's ruling against Yad L'achim, an organization dedicated to preventing Jewish people from believing in Jesus, came as a surprise to many.