More about Rabbi Elior Chen, the ringleader of the bizarre child-abuse-kabbala-exorcism-cult, and other cult members has come to light…
According to the Globe and Mail, Rabbi Chen, who is now said to be hiding in Canada, was once linked to a plot to fire a missile at Jerusalem's Temple Mount:
…According to Israeli media reports citing friends of Mr. Chen, he began studying Kabbalah Judaism at the age of 11. He left his yeshiva in Jerusalem because he considered it too “open” and began studying the writings of extremely conservative rabbis. Eventually, he became the spiritual leader of a group of ultraconservative students, who called themselves “Pitzuei HaNachal,” or “the wounded of the river.”
In 2005, members of Pitzuei HaNachal were arrested in relation to a plot by Jewish extremists to attack Jerusalem's Temple Mount, site of Islam's holy Dome of the Rock, to protest against Israel's decision to withdraw its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. Police alleged that Mr. Chen urged the plotters to take a loan from the bank to buy explosives, and promised to introduce them to army veterans who would train them to use the devices.
Police searched Mr. Chen's apartment [in Beitar Illit, an extremist haredi town] on Thursday, and discovered journals documenting the violence.
Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper said the raid uncovered 30 notebooks of correspondence between Mr. Chen and his followers, in which he explicitly spelled out how the children should be tortured.…
In the correspondence Mr. Chen's followers never refer to him by name, calling him instead “His Honor the King of the Messiah.” The writings are conversational, as if Mr. Chen's followers did not speak to him and were only allowed to communicate in writing.…
The Globe and Mail report by Mark MacKinnon is an excellent overview of the case so far.
Meanwhile, according to Ha'aretz, two at least two of the men involved, Shimon Gabai and Avraham Masklatchi, study at Yeshivat Nahar HaShalom.
What is Yeshivat Nahar HaShalom?
It is a Sefardic kabbalists' yeshiva located just off the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.
Last time I checked, it was headed by Rav Shemueli, who is considered to be the Rosh HaMekubalim, the head of the Sefardic kabbalists in Israel. (By contrast, Rav Kaduri, when he was alive, was considered to be the Zaken, the elder, of the Sefardi kabbalists.
In fairness to Nahar Shalom, it had ba'alei teshuva and less-than-stellar students integrated in the yeshiva, which I believe also had a high school.
Rav Shemueli is a very nice, kind man who I met on two or three occasions 14 years ago and I highly doubt anything taught or practiced by this cult comes from him.
And it is still unclear where Rabbi Elior Chen studied and and what he bases his 'teachings' on, although it would seem he, too, studied once at Nahar HaShalom.
But Nahar Hashalom's name is still attached to this case and, as far as I know, there has been no official reaction to that from the yeshiva. At the very least, it should condemn the child abuse, the exorcisms, and the very idea that children should every be treated horrifically.
It may seem to be so obvious that it is not even necessary for the yeshiva to state this.
Unfortunately, as this case itself proves, the idea that one does not torture and abuse children to correct behavior or exorcize demons is not as obvious as it should be.