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I remember hearing that the Baba Sali very suddenly decided to move away from Yavneh.

Does anyone know the story of what exactly occurred?

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According to this article in Hamodia he left abruptly because another rabbi said something disparaging about the Ba'al Shem Tov, and he felt he couldn't live in the same city as that rabbi.

The Baba Sali settled at first in Yavneh, but after a certain Rav there made a disrespectful statement about the Baal Shem Tov, he packed his bags the very same day and moved to Ashkelon, saying that he couldn't live in the same city as that Rav. In 5730/1979, the Baba Sali moved to Netivot, where he lived for the rest of his life.

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But none of the tens of thousands of Jews in Ashekelon were controversial? –  Double AA Jan 4 '13 at 14:44
@DoubleAA, I guess none of them offended him the same way. –  Seth J Jan 4 '13 at 14:44
@DoubleAA When hearing suspicious gedolim stories of unknown provenance, it's good to consider the possibility that they are apochryphal. If so, the stories probably reflect the values of the people who developed them rather than those of the gadol in question. Nonetheless, I seem to recall other cases of talmidei chachamim feeling that they could not live in the same town, so I wouldn't reject this story out of hand. –  Fred Jan 4 '13 at 17:59
@SethJ You are correct. Just found this video chabad.org/therebbe/livingtorah/player_cdo/aid/1600169/jewish/… of Rabbi Machluf Krispin who is married to the granddaughter of the Baba Sali and gives his first hand testimony of what happened. (from 2:30 minutes of the video and onward) –  Danield Jan 6 '13 at 16:18

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