Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why We Cling To Tzadikim

Art: SRG

This is a re-blog from 2012, as once again we have had commenters who are confused about why we pray at the graves of tzadikim.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often answer requests by saying that he would pray for the person at the grave of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak.

The following is extracted from "Not Just Stories" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD
Published by Shaar Press

Every person has a direct line with G-d, and we are not permitted to pray to intermediaries. Indeed, the propriety of prayers where we appear to be asking for blessings from angels or for their intervention on our behalf, is the subject of debate, and must be interpreted in such a way that does not violate our basic belief that we relate only to G-d as the One from Whom everything emanates.

Yes, there is also the concept of faith in a tzaddik, which is derived from the verse in Exodus [14:31] "They had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant". The sages derived from this verse that believing in the leader of Israel is equivalent to believing in the Creator [Mechilta]. In addition, the Talmud states that if there is a sick person in one's household, let him go to a chacham [a wise man] to pray for his recovery [Bava Basra 116a]. Inasmuch as everyone has a direct contact with G-d and we do not work through intermediaries, why is the prayer of a tzaddik more potent that one's own prayer?

There are several ways in which we can understand the concept of faith in a tzaddik. First and foremost is that the opinion of a wise man, a tzaddik, as a Torah authority, must be accepted and followed even if we are in disagreement with it [Sifri, Deut 17:11].

There is also a concept of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik and this has its basis in a statement from G-d to Abraham "And you will be a blessing" [Gen 12:2] which the Midrash interprets to mean that G-d gave Abraham the power to bless people, and that gift has been given to other tzaddikim as well. Nevertheless, a person must understand that even though the tzaddik conveys the blessing, the origin of the blessing is G-d.

A woman once came to Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobel, pleading for a blessing to have a child. To the amazement of the bystanders, the Rabbi, who was exceptionally kind and benevolent, said brusquely to her "I'm sorry, I cannot help you". The woman left the room tearful and broken hearted.

Noting the bewilderment of his chassidim, Rabbi Mordechai said "Just wait a few moments, then go find the woman and bring her back here." The chassidim did as they were told and when the woman came back, the Rabbi asked her "What did you do when you left here?"

The woman replied "I turned my eyes to Heaven and I said "Dear G-d, the Rabbi refuses to help me. Now You are my only hope. Bless me that I have a child."

Rabbi Mordechai said to the chassidim "This woman believed that I had magical powers, and she was trusting in me rather than in G-d. When I refused her request, she placed her trust in G-d where it belongs. She will now be blessed with a child."

The primary function of a tzaddik is to assist people in the proper service of G-d, to help them recognize their character defects and show them how to do teshuvah.

The power of a tzaddik is in his strong belief in G-d, and anyone who has that strong a belief can bring about similar results. When the tzaddik prays for a sick person, for example, and says that G-d is the healer of the sick, his belief is so strong that it actually brings down the Divine healing upon the person. In fact, said Rabbi Mordechai, the prime reason for having a relationship with a tzaddik is to learn how to perfect one's belief in G-d.


Anonymous said...

Baruch Hashem!!

Thank you Devorah for re-posting this for many to read and also for many to re-read.

This is all explained so well.
You took time and patience and trouble to make it clear for many of us who got a bit confused.

May i use this your blog Devorah, to tell all who come here, especially all the Jews.
I have for quite a long time have been reading blogs, searched many Jewish blogs, heard many shiurs of many Rabbis, made some few Jewish email 'pals'.. and i wish all to know how you all helped me in my long search for Gd. Hashem chose you all mainly for... : To be a LIGHT to the nations..

Many of you all did just that. Shine your light on my pathway.

I admit here too, that with many i argued, wrote my thoughts, was rude too with some, which mignt have hurt them and, i did that for i was searching for the Truth.
From you all i ask for forgiveness.

I found it.. the Truth - Hashem, these various blogs and such, via the Internet.. the reason, I feel, this way of communication and learning was made. How else then would those like me have learned and come to know the Truth?

Yes, also like many things, (including our minds, where also sits the yetza hara,) Hashem gave us free will... to choose...

Oh my, i could go on with so much. PLease all you Chosen i thank each and all of you.

Most of all I thank Hashem, for i believe with all my being, Haskem led me to these places from where i learned and where i am today.

I am not perfect or good, for i will never be.. but from all of you i also have learned that.... this is the way it is... everyday, every hour every minute is a learning process.. even when we get old.. and that is where i am.. old but happy today.

All thanks to you all who helped me so much in my search.

Hashem bless each and all of you. Amen,

Thank you Devorah for letting me use your blog to convey this message.

I end with...

Hashem, Thank Y-u, and please also bless all the good peoples of the world.
Amen v' Amen.

stella c.

Mia Sherwood Landau said...

As humans and students of Torah, we have to acknowledge our tendency to make someone else responsible for our relationship with Hashem. It's just what humans will always do, until we are isolated and desperate. Or, until we choose a love relationship instead. Our Sages set an example and many leaders help us by setting an example for us now. They are showing us how to have a genuine relationship with Hashem, not offering to do it for us.

Reena said...

Please please tell me where I could get prints of your beautiful art you post with story. Thank you for your consideration

Devorah said...

Reena: I get the pictures from the internet. Some of them are very old, I have been collecting them for many years for use on the blog. The only thing you can do is Google to see if the artist is still in existence on the internet and take it from there. I don't know what SRG stands for with the painting on this blog post, maybe someone out there reading this will know.

Devorah said...

Reena: I have just remembered who SRG is. She lives in Chicago. Obviously she doesn't want her name credited as she only uses her initials. If you email me privately I can try and put you in touch with her to see if there are prints available. Email: