Letters II - June 2009
The following is an actual dialogue between three women and myself that circulated on the Internet this week. "Woman 1" spreads a popular lie, guarantying a positive response to our prayers. I comment at the end.
Talking to the Wall
Woman 1: I would like to share with you an inspiring story, which I feel the need to spread. A friend of mine confided in me the story of how she met her spouse, or should I say how her spouse met her. He had dated for a while, around 50 different girls, and was beginning to feel that the situation was hopeless. After some time he decided to try the well-known concept of 40 days of prayer at the Kotel. Shortly after the allotted time was complete he was set up with his wife, my friend. I, being a bit skeptical of these mystical things decided to research the 40 days of prayer. I came across a site westernwallprayers. org and after reading what they were about and reviewing all of their success stories, I am now convinced. Of course I have my own success stories but that is a personal matter. Check it out www.westernwallprayers. org
Woman 2: I paid for two rounds of prayers more than two years ago. I am still single.
Woman 3: A friend of mine also paid several years ago and she's still single too.
Woman 1: I am sorry to hear that they are still single. I am sure we all know that our prayers never go unanswered...sometimes we need to learn to accept "No" for an answer.
Woman 3: Thanks for the "encouragement". I'm glad your friend's prayers were answered to his satisfaction, while I'm apparently doomed to remain single.
Woman 1: I am sorry to hear that you feel that way. Please do not lose hope that God has someone special intended just for you.
Mesora: Dear All,
No where in Torah do we find the notion that praying at the Wall – or anywhere – guarantees a positive response. Such lies baselessly raise peoples' hopes, only to let them down. It is outright thievery to manufacture such claims, take money, and make promises in the name of Torah. It is an alarming arrogance to say "Sometimes the answer is no", as if you know what God has responded. Moreover, this is a Chillul Hashem, a disgrace of God's name. For one parades as if these acts represent Torah.
Exodus 20:21 says, "Any place you mention My name, I will come to you and bless you" (End of parshat Yisro) "ANY" place. We don't need a Wall for God hear us. This is foolishness.
This crooked thievery destroys the Torah Fundamental of "Reward and Punishment". For God teaches that we receive His good providence based on our internal perfection. In his Laws of Repentance (2:3) Maimonides equates one who repents in his mouth but not his heart, with one who ritually immerses but cleaves onto a creeping insect in his hand. Just as one is not cleansed as long as he holds onto the insect, one is not forgiven until he/she repents: an internal, true repentance. Therefore, paying to have prayers recited on our behalf, while we cleave to our flaws, cannot be effective.
Who makes more sense: Maimonides, or this deceptive, WesternWallPrayers website?
Certainly, one who steals the money of fellow Jews in the name of prayer, is sinning and will not be effective in his prayer for three reasons: 1) he sins by stealing so his prayers are those of a sinner; 2) he does so in the name of Torah and disgraces God's name; 3) the person in need has not changed so as to merit God's intervention; and 4) the primary reason such prayers are ineffective, is because he prays not to God, but to a false notion of God he has manufactured. The true God is not one who would endorse a prayer if the one praying is deluded that "location" trumps inner perfection.
God heard the prayers of the matriarchs even when they prayed in various locations. Their husbands the Avot, did not tell them to pray at the Wall's location.
Did God not answer Esther in Persia?
Moses on Horeb?
Daniel in the den of lions?
Joshua in Gilgal?
Joseph imprisoned in Egypt?
Elijah on Mt. Carmel?
Elisha in Jericho?
Jonah in the fish?
Do you not recite Selichos, which ends with all of the the above cited cases when God responded...without the Wall?
Does the Torah not tell us that what God desires is a perfect heart, and not a location? Read Haftoras Tzav. God says He does not want our sacrifices, but rather, that we listen to His word.
Where has Torah study gone?
Why do so many of you accept and proliferate such nonsense?
Read the Torah. Don't ignore God's words, for then He will certainly ignore your words. What does Rabbi Gamliel say in Pirkei Avos 2:4? "Do His will as your own, in order that He will do your will as His." We have a formula for success. Why do you continue to believe you are more correct than God?
But you will ask: "Why do some people actually marry after such Western Wall prayers?"
It is simple: they are duped into believing the prayer was effective, so they are psychologically much more accepting and wishful about their next match: they feel "this is the one"...even before they meet him/her.
They're psyched about it, since they believe their prayers are 100% guaranteed. I would even bet that many who buy into this lie CANNOT refuse the first date after such false prayers, since their religious emotion cripples their ability to discern intelligently. They blindly attach themselves to the guarantee this website offers. When in such a frame of mind, any date will be more likely accepted for marriage. Hypnotism works the same way.
However, he fact that we see so many people pay for the WestrenWallPrayers.org service and remain single, reveals the lie. Even if ONE person doesn't get married after paying for this practice, the practice is unveiled as a lie. Certainly when so many don't get married.
If this organization's members and leaders would study God's Torah, if we all would...all Jews would realize such practices violate the most fundamental Torah concepts, and reason...and none of us would be fooled.
We would realize the futility in "talking to the wall".
Woman 2: Thank you Rabbi for posting this. I feel validated. I was an idiot to believe that paying for some stranger praying in my name at the Kotel could influence my destiny.