Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pidyon Nefesh

I've had some recent correspondence about something called ''Pidyon Nefesh'' -  which means ''Redemption of the Soul''.    This involves giving money - sometimes a very large amount of money -to a known tzadik, in order to mitigate a spiritual judgement which is affecting that person in the form of an illness.

Rabbi Nachman teaches [Likutei Moharan 180], “Money is an aspect of dinim [judgments], and the dinim can only be sweetened at their source.” “The most important thing is not to be miserly when giving a pidyon, so that none of the dinim should remain unsweetened. A person must give what he is told to give. Only the Tzaddik knows which dinim are on a person.”

The way it works is that if a person has been judged in Shamayim, either in this life or even from a past life, for something that he or she has done, they suffer from illness or other calamity as a tikkun [correction].  By paying money to the tzadik, this atones for the original wrongdoing, and a doctor is then able [i.e. given permission from Shamayim] to heal the person.

''There are 24 Heavenly Courts that judge a person in Shamayim. There is one tzaddik in a generation that can influence all 24 Heavenly Courts. Rav Kaduri is quoted as saying he had governance over 5-6 Heavenly Courts, so if the judgement causing the problem occurred in one of those 5-6, he could help a person. otherwise, he'd send people to Rav Berland [who is the one in the generation who has access to all 24 Heavenly Courts] to help them where he couldn't. Rav Mordechai Sharabi also used to send people to Rav Berland for help - even 40 years back, when Rav Berland was a complete unknown.''

Note that a true tzadik will return the money if the pidyon does not work.

For a complete guide to how Pidyon Nefesh works: click here.


Anonymous said...


Rivka said...

More from Rebbe Nachman about pidyon nefesh and the 24 spiritual courts:

“Know: there are twenty-four types of spiritual ransoms [Pidyonot], corresponding to the twenty-four courts of justice. For each and every court there is a unique corresponding ransom to ameliorate its judgments. Therefore, a ransom is not always effective, since not everyone knows all twenty-four ransoms…

"But know: there is a certain ransom that includes all the twenty-four courts of justice and is able to ameliorate [the judgments of] all the twenty-four courts….But among the Tzaddikim, not everyone knows of this ransom. Only one in a generation knows of it…”

- Likutey Moharan I:215

Debbie Rubinstein said...

very interesting.... and great attached photo, Devorah :)

Ginno Ricci said...

What heavenly court is presided by Rav Ovadia? I heard that he's with Rav Eliashiv and Rav Kaduri to judge Jews from our generation

Natan Slifkin said...

"This involves giving money - sometimes a very large amount of money -to a known tzadik, in order to mitigate a spiritual judgement which is affecting that person in the form of an illness."

What a wonderful opportunity for a charlatan to pretend to be a tzaddik and take advantage of someone who is in a fragile state.

Devorah said...

In today's world you would be hard-pushed to find a real tzadik to do a pidyon, I agree with you.
Charlatans abound.

But when a publicly wellknown tzadik endorses another tzadik, then we can be sure they are the real deal.

Othewise, buyer beware.

Natan Slifkin said...

"But when a publicly well known tzadik endorses another tzadik, then we can be sure they are the real deal."

Alas, this is simply not true. The Gemara speaks about how even the greatest people were fooled by such charlatans.

Devorah said...

Rabbi Slifkin: How can a true tzadik be fooled by anyone? If he was fooled, then he was not a true tzadik to begin with .... ?

Natan Slifkin said...

I honestly do not understand your question. What's one thing got to do with the other?

Anonymous said...

Why cannot one just pray direct to Hashem?

Why 'pay' anyone, holy person or not...

Surely, just going to Hashem direct would be the right thing?
Unless somewhere, it is written in Torah, that Hashem says, to go to someone to ask them to pray for what one needs from Hashem..?!


Devorah said...

My instincts are telling me not to continue this conversation. The purpose of this blog post was to bring knowledge of the act of pidyon nefesh, and not to discredit any person, past or present.

As far as I am aware, the term ''tzadik''refers to someone who is perfectly pure, and has no sin. A tzadik sees only the truth in any situation, and in any other person.

Therefore, if a known tzadik tells you that another person is a tzadik, you can believe what they are saying, and there should be no doubt at all that it is true.

Consequently, the issue of ''charlatan'' cannot apply in that instance.

I do not understand how a real tzadik could make an error of judgement regarding another ''tzadik''.

In my blog post, one tzadik is endorsing another.

Devorah said...

Anon @ 8:51 - there are people who are suffering, but they don't know why. They pray and they try their best, but they don't know what they are atoning for, and they cannot fix the problem. They have probably seen many doctors, none of whom can cure them.

A Pidyon Nefesh is probably a last resort.
It is a real thing, and it has worked for thousands of people.

If the tzadik doing the Pidyon Nefesh guarantees to return the money - in the rare cases where it does not work - then there should be no problem trusting him.

Natan Slifkin said...

" the term ''tzadik''refers to someone who is perfectly pure, and has no sin."

(That goes directly against an explicit passuk in the Torahכִּי אָדָם אֵין צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה טּוֹב וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא:, but that's not so relevant here)

"A tzadik sees only the truth in any situation, and in any other person."

Where do you get that from? What does having no or minimal sins have to do with seeing only the truth in a situation? In any case, we see the exact opposite in the Torah. Yitzchak Avinu was a tzaddik, and he was fooled by Eisav!

Devorah said...

I can't argue with that. Could you plese tell me the correct definition of the word ''tzadik''.

Natan Slifkin said...

"Tzaddik" means "righteous person." That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't mean that the person has any special powers.

Devorah said...

Well that was disappointing, I thought you were going to give me a few paragraphs on the definition of the word ''tzadik''. What you have just described with the words ''righteous person'' is a beinoni - Beinoni, The: (lit. “intermediate one”); an individual whose spiritual labors have brought him to a level of perfection in thought, word and deed, despite his still-active evil inclination; see Tanya, ch. 12.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi defines the rasha as one who succumbs to his animal self, the benoni as one who struggles with it, and the tzaddik as one who sublimates it and transforms it.

But we obviously see things very differently, and whilst I appreciate the fact that you chose to read my blog, I would also appreciate it if you did not come here and try to destroy peoples' emunah by leaving misleading comments.

Natan Slifkin said...

I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you were asking for a particular Chassidic definition, I thought that you were asking for a classical definition.

I'm also sorry if you feel that I was "destroying emunah." In Litvishe circles, disputing the attribution of special powers to people is not considered to be destroying emunah; it's considered to be correcting emunah. (and I don't think that any of my comments were "misleading.")

I don't normally engage in debates with people from different hashkafic worldviews. The only reason I did so in this case is that advising people suffering from difficult circumstances to give large sums of money to people who present themselves as holy men is a terrible idea. It causes severe problems for hundreds of families in Israel every year, who are struggling with illness or whatever, and whose difficulties then become compounded because they've given away their money to someone that they naively believed to be a miracle worker. If there was ever an example of misleading comments that can have a destructive effect, it's this post!

Devorah said...

That's right, we are never going to agree on this topic as we see it from different viewpoints. You are ignoring the fact that a real tzaddik refunds the money if the Pidyon Nefesh does not work. the money goes to charitable causes anyway.

As we cannot even agree on the definition of ''tzadik'', then we are obviously not going to agree on anything else.

I also have an aversion to fake kabbalists, but there is a major difference between a tzadik and a con-artist. We don't throw the baby out with the bath-water. Should we stop learning all Torah because some rabbis twist it into lies and use it to further their own agenda?

Natan Slifkin said...

Actually I agree that a real tzaddik refunds the money. I just feel that it's very difficult to know who a real tzaddik is. And I think that endorsements from others don't count. I could give you a very long list of Gedolim who were taken in by charlatans.

(In my personal view, a true tzaddik wouldn't take money in the first place. If anything, he would simply tell the people which charity to give it to - and it would be one that is entirely unconnected with him. That would help address the problem of greed and charlatans.)

Note that the Torah says that כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר עֵינֵי חֲכָמִים וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִם. Of course ordinary people can be corrupted by greed. But the Torah says that even Tzadikkim can be corrupted.

Rivka said...

Probably the best way to know who's a 'real tzaddik' and who isn't is to ask Hashem, in your own personal prayer to show you.

that's the ONLY way we're going to know right from wrong or fake from true in this mixed up world.

There ARE at least 36 true tzaddikim, or lamed vavnikim, who are maintaining the world at every given moment.

Even Litvish people believe that. Emunat tzaddikim is a Jewish concept, not a chassidic one - take a look at the Rambam's 13 principles of faith, which is universally accepted by all streams of Judaism.

Whenever someone claims to know how the spiritual affairs underpinning the world work better than huge tzaddikim like Rebbe Nachman, Rabbi Kaduri, Rav Mordechai Sharabi and others, a red flag always goes up for me.

Rebbe Nachman would never advise to do a pidyon nefesh if it was impossible to find a 'true tzaddik' to effect it. He clearly states there is 'one in a generation' that can do this.

And if people want to know who that is, then the best way to go about it is to follow the advice of a known tzaddik who has ruach hakodesh.

Natan Slifkin said...

"Emunat tzaddikim is a Jewish concept, not a chassidic one - take a look at the Rambam's 13 principles of faith, which is universally accepted by all streams of Judaism."

Huh? Rambam doesn't say anything about tzaddikim!

Devorah said...

Actually he does: the belief in the coming of the Moshiach - the greatest tzadik of all.

Natan Slifkin said...

So Rambam says that we have to believe in the coming of Mashiach, who is a tzaddik, like many people in the Torah. I don't understand what you are trying to prove from this.

Devorah said...

I'm not trying to prove anything, it seems to me though that you are the one trying to DIS-prove.
I think we should agree to disagree on just about everything, and leave it at that.

rivka said...

And principles number 6 and 7 also talk about tzaddikim:

6) I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.

7) I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both those who preceded him and those who followed him.

Devorah said...

Natan Slifkin @ 5.52: I am listening to Rabbi Jacobson's shiur A Tale of Two Souls: @ approx 19.00 he explains that a ''real Litvak'' is Chabad ! ::))