Sunday, April 29, 2012

Holy Names

If they say, "Come along, and we will give you the Names and incantations which can be practically employed," do not go along with them, my son. Keep your feet from following their path, for those Names and their application are really a trawl for catching souls that will only be led to ruin. [Divine Names Like Holy Keys]

Using Holy Names

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot [Chapter 1, Mishnah 13] states: “He [Hillel] would say: Whoever does not add shall be gathered, whoever does not learn is worthy of death, and whoever uses the crown shall pass.”

Rabbeinu Ovadia of Bartenura explains the phrase “And whoever uses the crown shall pass” refers to one who uses the crown of Torah, the punishment for which is passing away from this world. He then writes as follows: “Additionally, I have heard that the term “using the crown” refers to one who uses Hashem’s ineffable name, the punishment for which is passing on and being lost from the world, i.e. losing one’s share in the World to Come.” This refers to individuals who have learned from the books of the Mekubalim how to use the holy names of Hashem in order to perform supernatural occurrences; such people have no share in the World to Come.

Maran Harav Shlit”a has mentioned an incident related to this topic recorded in the Sefer Mitzvot Katan [Mitzvah 3] who writes that once Rabbeinu Yehuda HaChassid warned his students not to attend the wedding of a certain friend of theirs, for there were bandits on the way and he was concerned that harm would befall them. These students did not heed his warning, for they were well-versed in the holy names and if any harm would befall them, they would immediately be saved by using these names. This is indeed what happened: Robbers attacked them and tried to murder them and steal all of their belongings at which point they uttered Hashem’s ineffable name and the bandits fell dead.

Upon returning home after being saved, Rabbeinu Yehuda HaChassid chided them: “What have you done?! You have lost your shares in the World to Come! Your only option is to repent fully and return to that particular place where you were attacked and this time, do not utter Hashem’s name and let yourselves be killed.” Indeed, these students did so and were killed. This story is utterly astounding, for it is completely forbidden for one to go to a dangerous place. Not only does it seem that returning to the dangerous place a second time does not serve as atonement for their sin, it seems that they transgressed another prohibition by giving up their lives for this!

The Tashbetz [Rabbeinu Shimon bar Tzemach, one of the great Rishonim] addresses this question in his commentary on Masechet Berachot [5b] and asks that if going to such a place involved actual danger, what kind of repentance is performing another prohibition? He answers that since the main point of repentance is for one to encounter the same situation he was in when he originally sinned and to overcome himself and not sin this time around, they therefore had no other choice but to return to the same place in order to pass the test that they were unable to previously. Maran Harav Shlit”a questions this idea, for in any event, it is still quite difficult to understand how they were permitted to return to that specific place since the Torah states, “And he [man] shall live by them [the commandments of the Torah]” and not die as a result of them, for a man cannot give up his life for something like this!

Nothing stands in the way of full repentance and as long as they could not encounter the same situation again, their repentance process is comprised of only remorse and an acceptance never again to return to this sin; actually encountering the same test will be unnecessary. Maran Shlit”a leaves this question unanswered.

This story is also especially surprising, for even when they returned to the place where the bandits were a second time, it seems that they should have uttered Hashem’s ineffable name once again to save themselves from certain death as nothing stands in the way of a life-threatening situation. Indeed, Maran HaChida records in his diary that once, an Arab met him on a forsaken path and wished to kill him and since he was left with no choice, he preempted him and uttered Hashem’s name and killed him first. Without a doubt, this is because one may use the name of Hashem in a life-threatening situation. Thus, we must seriously delve into the story mentioned by the Sefer Mitzvot Katan in order to understand the basis for the ruling of Rabbeinu Yehuda HaChassid.

In any case, this teaches us the severity of using what is commonly referred to as “Practical Kabbalah,” for even if there are individuals nowadays who may know how to use holy names for medical purposes and the like, one should abstain from consulting such witch-doctors who may appear to be Mekubalim and mystical people. One who cherishes his soul should distance himself from such individuals who present themselves as Mekubalim when the extent of their integrity and righteousness is in serious question [“Babas”]. Even if in truth they do possess some knowledge about holy names, it is reasonable to say that they are causing great damage by using these names, for this is not child’s play that immediately upon reciting a specific holy name the sick person will be healed immediately; we are dealing with a deep and complex issue and whoever has only slight knowledge of this issue will end up causing much more damage that good. This is besides for his great punishment and wickedness for his sin of profaning the name of Hashem in order to raise his own name.

If an individual requires a blessing for a certain salvation, he should seek out true Torah scholars who are the true authorities of Torah whom people respect and whose teachings and paths are logical and understandable, for their prayers will surely be heard by Hashem. Whoever cleaves to them and fears them is tantamount to cleaving to Hashem’s holy presence; praiseworthy is he and his lot.

Source: HalachaYomit
HT: Yaak


Anonymous said...

This is Anon101. My question is why isn't the Orthodox Union, Lubavitch or any other organization saying to avoid such places and people. Where is the list on the internet banning these people so people can save their souls. This is the first time I heard of this. We the Jewish people are responsible for each Jew why isn't this public knowledge?

Devorah said...

I know, there are no guidelines, it's pretty pathetic really. The only way to find true kosher sites is to search via - although they do not include blog sites in their search findings.

Anonymous said...

i think there is alot of advice from rabbis, who without wishing to cause hurt or embarassement, have asked to keep to simple faith. r nachman, the baalshemtov and others have always stressed on this. and we have read this often, in this site and others. when my second son was critically ill in end 2005, i contacted my rabbis, a number of them and they started prayers for him. but each one of them, some of whom i spoke to by phone, told me Hashem always hears the sick person's prayers and ofcourse my husband and myself as their parents. and very humbly, they told me, they hope that their prayer will add that little extra weight needed to tilt the scale to a positive result. they did not behave like xtians or others who glorify themselves when people come for help. in all the orthodox sites, like, where there is a weekly (sunday night) direct lessons and discussions live, with r avraham greenbaum, and breslov, chabad etc. once we continuously study there and we are known to a group of a rabbi, then indiviudal guidance comes. we have to attach ourselves to a rabbi, either direct or on line and over time be unswerving and meticulous in our studies, and they will know we are serious and it would be a wonderful teacher student relationship.