Letter to Judaism.com


Elliot Plotnick



Dear Mr. Perelman,


Having looked through your website, it dawned on me that there seems to be no need for any religious practices if mundane objects can be imbued with such power and promise.  Please explain the purpose of Tefilla if all we need to do is wear a red string on our wrist.  How does this help us?  And if you want to answer (as most do who ascribe to this practice do) that we don't need to know how it works only that it works, may I remind you of the Ibn Ezra who tells us that if we come upon a mitzvah that we cannot fully understand without the explanation within the works of Torah SheBal Peh, than we discount the mitzvah entirely as it cannot be a part of the Mesora!  I ask you, where is the Torah SheBal Peh for this practice?  Where is there any source for the Torah for this practice at all?  How do we know what this practice is if it is not discussed at all within the Torah.  If it is truly as powerful as you are stating, wouldn't it be included in the Torah as something for all to benefit from?  In fact, where is there any source anywhere in the Torah that tells us that regular physical objects can be imbued with magical powers for our personal benefit?  What is the point of perfecting ourselves and doing the mitzvot of the Torah if all we have to do is wear this "magical" string and we will be protected.  How can you honestly say that this is part of Torah Judaism.  Do you really believe that a religion with the massive intellectual works that Judaism has, (Mishna, Gemara, etc) and the Torah giants that we have would endorse a  practice such as this? 


In addition,  I have not seen your answer anywhere to the Rishonim (the Tosefta, the Rambam, etc) that so clearly state that this practice is wrong and and avodah zarah.  You cannot honestly answer that the sources you quoted from a few late achronim (who by the way do not seem to present logical arguments- just that this is the way its been done, therefore do not belittle it) can contradict the Rishonim.  These Rishonim present cogent logical arguments with clear sources from the Torah that this practice is wrong and destructive for the nation. 


One last point, What does this say about God's system of Justice?  Lets say I'm a Rasha, can I where this string and still be protected?  Are we rewarded and punished for our mitzvos and aveiros or because of a string that we wear?


It must be that you believe that Judaism does not have to make sense?  There is obviously no logic to the religion.  In that case, why stop at a red string?  Maybe I can draw a big sign on my forehead that says "protect me".  Is that really any different?  What about a lucky penny or a rabbits foot?


I understand that there is a strong emotional attachment to these types of beliefs.  They are easy and require almost no work.  That is not what Judaism is.  All I ask is that you look through the sources (the Tosefta, that Rambam, etc,) and really think about these ideas.  Because that's what Judaism demands.


Thank you.


Elliot Plotnick

Long Beach, NY