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Rabbi Ariel: Don’t Go to Rabbis for Blessing – Pray

Ramat Gan rabbi denounces practice of going to rabbis for a special blessing in times of trouble.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 6/14/2013, 9:51 AM

Man prays at the Kotel (Western Wall)
Man prays at the Kotel (Western Wall)
Uri Lenz/Flash 90
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, has denounced the practice of going to Kabbalist rabbis (Mekubalim) for a special blessing in times of trouble.
 
Instead, Jews should pray to G-d for assistance, he said.
 
Rabbi Ariel gave his opinion in response to a question on the Yeshiva web site. A reader asked, “We are married for seven years without children. We went to a certain rabbi to get a blessing for a child.
 
“Before we went in to the rabbi, we had to sign a form obligating us to pay a certain amount if we get pregnant, and another sum if there is a birth. And to invite the rabbi to be the sandak ["godfather"] at the brit milah [circumcision].
 
“The rabbi saw us for five minutes and said, ‘Bracha v’hatzlacha’ [‘Blessings and success’]. My husband and I got a very bad feeling from it. What does the rabbi [Rabbi Ariel] think of this?”
 
Rabbi Ariel answered that experts in halakha (Jewish law) oppose the practice of going to rabbis or “kabbalists” for a blessing. “There are some hidden spiritual giants who, through their righteousness, can give blessing,” he said. “But there are few of them, and their identities are not known.”
 
He urged those in need of blessing to pray to G-d directly, “without an agent.” Those seeking aid can visit the Kotel (Western Wall) or the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron, he added.
 
Rabbi Ariel told the questioner that the commitment she and her husband were required to give may not be valid.