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Was Rav Effergan Threatened by Crime Family? Pick a Version

rentganThe motzei Shabbos arrest of underworld boss Shalom Domrani and the link to prominent Netivot rabbonim including Rabbi Yaakov Effergan, better known as The Rentgan, continues to maintain a prominent spot in the daily news in Israel.

Channel 2 News reported on Monday night the eve of 9 Kislev 5774 that when police questioned Rabbi Effergan regarding reported threats made against him, he denied they occurred. The report police are working with states on the day of municipal elections in Netivot, Domrani and a number of his henchmen arrived and entered the rav’s office. They closed the door, cut the phone lines and collected the cell phones of all present. They then instructed the rav and all present to vote for Mayor Yechiel Zohar, who was seeking reelection. The rav had come out publically in support of his opponent, Eyal Mesika.

The rav however tells a somewhat different version, which police believe is prompted by fears for his own safety as well as the safety of his family and followers. The rabbi told police that Domrani did arrive with his assistants as alleged, but they simply requested a bracha, nothing more. In fact, according to Rabbi Effergan, Domrani did not even make mention of the elections, criminal affairs correspondent Moshe Nussbaum reported.

The prominent Netivot rav/mekubal/rosh yeshiva who is in custody, Rabbi YA, supported Zohar’s reelection, as did Domrani, and it is alleged the rabbi called on Domrani to hire his services, placing a hit on The Rentgan.

Mayor Yechiel Zohar and the loser, Eyal Mesika both spoke to Kikar Shabbat on Monday. They both expressed their anguish over events taking place in the city. Zohar began by blasting The Rentgan, who he accuses of living in a home with many building code violations and the same is true of his many mosdos in the city. Zohar stated “Some of the rabbinical courts in the city are no different than the crime families, and I am referring to Rabbi Effergan being among them. According to Forbes, he has 90 million NIS in the bank. All of his earnings are black money. He travels around in luxury vehicles as does his wife. Let him explain to tax authorities how he earned this all.”

“He has serious building violations including his home. He was given opportunity to submit the plans and he filed in part. He will be required to pay but he is still in violation of the law” Zohar added.

When asked why he does not issue a demolition order as the city’s mayor, Zohar replied “I don’t issue demolition orders for an old building. It is not my job. This is the job of the city’s attorney general, not me.”

When asked to describe his connection with Rabbi YA, who remains in jail, the mayor explained that they have not been in contact over recent years.

Mesika explained that he did not get a feeling of any criminal involvement in the election despite police suspicions to the contrary. “I could be police know something that I do not know” he added.

Mesika does not believe the rabbis played a decisive role in the outcome of the elections.

Ronen Tzur, Rabbi Effergan’s voice to the public stated “The rav spends his time with limud kodesh and assisting those who seek his guidance and brachos and he is not chas v’sholom involved in loshon hora.”

In the latest development, the investigation takes police to Bnei Brak, to the daled amos of HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita. Police earlier in the week spoke with Yeshayahu Epstein and Yaakov Kanievsky. It appears they were questioned regarding R’ Chaim meeting with and giving a bracha to Yechiel Zohar before elections.

Degel Hatorah supported Zohar’s reelection effort in the city, opposing the position of the rosh yeshiva who was arrested and Baba Baruch.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

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