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What is this idea of Rebbes providing a blessing?

by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort

  

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Question: 

It also seems that Rebbes of the past are highly revered, almost idolized. What is this idea of Rebbes providing a blessing? I thought only some Christian sects (Catholics, Orthodox Christians, etc.) believed in having a man/human provide a blessing. Can you enlighten me to the Jewish perspective of blessings? 

Answer:

Unfortunately, this is another example of a Jewish concept borrowed by Christianity, then becoming associated with that religion, while it in fact originates in Judaism. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses—giants of the spirit, all highly revered in Jewish tradition—regularly blessed their children/students. If you look in the Torah you will find many instances of righteous people bestowing blessings upon others. We can even find evil people doing so, like Balaam! A blessing is one individual conferring upon another his/her wishes that G-d’s goodness should be bestowed upon the other. We are taught in the Talmud that “When a righteous person decrees, G-d fulfills.” This is because G-d’s manifested love for the righteous makes Him want to fulfill the righteous individual’s wishes. Additionally, we realize that G-d loves each and every one of us, so He has a desire to bless us anyway. Sometimes however, we may need that added “push” given to the Almighty by the righteous individual’s request.)

Furthermore, the Sages teach: “al tehi birchas hediot kala b'aynecha,” or, “let not a layman’s blessing be light in your eyes.” Meaning, whoever wishes you well, take it. Everyone’s got the power to give.


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COMMENTS

Righteous person decrees/Hashem fulfills

Posted by: Anonymous, Lake View Terrace, CA on Nov 02, 2006

I am confuseed by the citation of the Talmud. Wasn't Jonah a righteous person? Did he not decree that the people of Ninenevah should be punished for their evil deeds? And didn't G-d then punish Jonah, and tell him to warn the people and inspire them to repent rather than punish them, as Jonah had wished? How was this decree of a righteous man ignored. Isn't that a contradiction to the cited talmud?

Editor's Comment

A simple reading of the book of Jonah doesn't indicate that he "decreed" that the people of Nineveh should be punished. He was merely sent to warn them about their wickedness and arouse repentance. For a better understanding see "Inside Jonah, Inside the Fish" (http://www.askmoses.com/article.html?h=188&o=1952652).

RELATED CATEGORIES

Chassidism » Rebbe » Chassidic Masters

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Isaac
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
Balaam
An evil sorcerer employed by the king of Moab to curse the Israelites as they were on the verge of entering Canaan. Although he desired to curse, G-d ensured that only blessings came from his mouth. He was eventually killed by the Israelites in the course of their battle against Midian.
Rebbes
Plural form of Rebbe. A Rebbe is a Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.