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Hoping for a modern-day reoccurrence of Purim's miraculous story of redemption from a Persian ruler, a Jerusalem-based kabbalist hopes to battle Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear threat with children's prayers.
On Sunday at the Succat David elementary school, Rabbi David Batzri, head of the Shalom Yeshiva, launched a nationwide campaign to enlist 10,000 young children in a prayer rally against Ahmadinejad before Purim.
"The children are praying that God annul any negative heavenly decree against the Jewish people," said Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, the kabbalist's son. He denied that the children were praying for Ahmadinejad's death.
"Rabbinic homiletic literature tells the story of how Mordechai the Jew got 10,000 little children to wear sackcloth and ashes and pray that God would foil Haman's diabolical plans," Yitzhak Batzri said. "Their prayers prevented a calamity. My father hopes to do the same against Ahmadinejad."
In recent years, the Iranian president has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Iran's push for nuclear capability has raised fears in Israel that Ahmadinejad may soon be capable of carrying out his threat.
Batzri's prayer rally is an expression of many Jews' concern that the Iranian nuclear threat poses a real danger to Israel's existence. But not all Jewish leaders agreed with Batzri's methods.
A spokesman for the Eda Haredit attacked Batzri's endeavor, saying: "We must not incite the nations of the world against us."
"Obviously, we must not cooperate with people like Ahmadinejad. But we also must not encourage the nations to attack us," added the source, who helped blackball the group of Natorei Karta members who took part in Ahmadinejad's recent Holocaust denial conference.
Yitzhak Batzri rejected the criticism, saying: "No one has the right to criticize the prayers of a righteous person."
On Monday, David Batzri will be in Beersheba to rally more children to his cause.
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