- Praying to the Dead
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: I see through all that garbage when Edwards is on TV.
What I don't understand is why so many people fall for it? On the
other hand how different is going to visit relatives and great Rabbi's
"kevers" and praying at their tombstones?
- Mesora: We are not supposed to
pray at their graves, unless the prayer is directed to God alone.
Otherwise, it is also as you say a form of contacting the dead.
- Reader: A few years ago a member of our community in New York
passed away and a "chasidishe" Rebbi led the procession with
the "arron" to the plot where the burial was to take place.
Upon reaching the first tombstone in that block the Rebbi stopped the
procession and took out a hammer from his pocket and knocked three
times on that tombstone and apologized for disturbing the the dead.
And what about the thousands of our people who travel to Eastern
Europe and Russia to visit and pray at the grave site of famous
Rabbis? Could this constitute NECROMANCY?
- Mesora: It could be. We must
know, God hears our prayers everywhere. Similarly, inserting kapituls
into the Western Wall is also contrary to the pasuk at the end of
Parshas Yisro, "bkol makom asher azkir es shmi, avo alecha
uvarachticha", "in all places where My name is mentioned, I
will come to you and bless you".
- However, if one is inspired by visiting the graves of the righteous,
that is permissible, and it may even have a long lasting positive
effect on this person. Calev went to the graves of the patriarchs upon
the initial entrance to Israel, to remind himself of the reality of
God's promise of the land to those patriarchs. Their reality of their
burial plots in front of his eyes strengthened the reality of God's
promise of the land, as these individual were the recipients of the
promise. As if to say, "If they are real, then so is God's
- Calev never doubted that the patriarchs were real, but he understood
human psychology. Now being confronted with the corrupt spies
attempting to deny God's promise of a victory against the current
inhabitants of Israel, Calev desired to harness all aspects of his
personality to counter the emotional pull of the spies. Laying his
eyes upon their graves added another component of emotional stability
to Calev's position.
- But, he did not pray to the forefathers.
- In no way do we pray to people, alive or dead.