Rabbi Haim Cohen was saved from a would-be stabber on March 3 at the synagogue where he regularly prays in Giv'atayim, east of Tel Aviv, according to March 4 report by the Yisrael Hayom daily in Israel. The assailant interrupted services at the synagogue and drew a knife, saying he was going to kill the rabbi for not removing a spell from him. The same man had allegedly tried to do the same thing about a month ago was stopped by worshippers at the last moment. A court extended the remand of the assailant - a 43-year-old from Rishon Letzion - by three days.
The case recalls the bizarre murder of Rabbi Elazar 'Baba' Abuhatzeira in 2011. In that case, the attorney for Asher Dahan said that her client admitted to committing the killing but not to the intent of murder. Attorney Kati Zwetkov told a court in Be'er Sheva in 2012 that Dahan admitted he stabbed the revered elderly Rabbi Abuhatzeira but only with the intention of wounding him. His ostensible reason was to prove that the rabbi had no divine powers.
According to the indictment, Dahan handed to Rabbi Abuhatzeira - a renowned practitioner of Kabbalism - a note before declaring “In the name of Hashem (God), we will act and succeed.” It was then that Dahan stabbed the 70-year-old rabbi to death while the rabbi read the note. The courts found Dahan compentent to stand trial, despite view of reports of his mental illness.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Rabbi Abuhatzeira for his works of charity. A synagogue has since been dedicated to his memory.