Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is Bowing To The Rebbe OK Because Jews At Large Say Barchuni Leshalom?

As I noted in a previous post, over at Thanbook, by R' Jonatan Baker (thanbo), an explanation of the practice of some Lubavitch of bowing to the Rebbe, to the Rebbe's picture, or directing prayers towards the Rebbe, within Chabad theology. Moshe objects that sof kol sof, no matter how we pretty it up, davening to the Rebbe is still heretical according to the 5th Ikkar of the Rambam. I said that thanbo probably agrees, based on his words there. He clarified that it is a yes and no situation:
But do we, today, really, take the Rambam as dispositive in these matters? Did you say Machnisei Rachamim in Slichos yesterday, and/or today? Do you say the third verse of Shalom Aleichem every week? I know people who don't, davka because of the "davening to an intermediary" problem, but it's far from the majority position.

And once you say that praying to an angel (who has no will of his own) is OK as an intermediary, then where's the outrage at praying to a chassidic tzadik, who, as they believe, has nullified his will such that he effectively has no will, and is doing (and thus a revelation of, in a sense) the will of God, coming from? Is it just "they're doing this bad thing" or is there some other inter-group rivalry driving it?

Puk chazi still rules...
I have a multipart answer to this. First, in terms of Shalom Aleichem, I am not at all convinced that this is praying to an angel. Sure, some people don't say it, because that is how they cast it. But that does not mean tha everyone who does say it thinks they are praying to an angel and thinks that it OK. If it is directing a request to an angel, and that is problematic, why specifically Barchuni leShalom as problematic? What about Boachem leShalom?! We are asking the angels to do something, to enter in peace, to leave in peace, etcetera!

Indeed, if instructing an angel to bless us is *praying* to an angel, how on a peshat level could Yaakov Avinu have forced the angel to do this, in parshat Vayetzei? In parshat Vayishlach, according to Rashi who says that Yaakov sent malachim mamash, how could he have asked them to give Esav his gifts? Instructing is not the same as praying.

Indeed, it seems that the construction of the song Shalom Aleichem is a reenactment of the brayta in Shabbat 119b:
It was taught, R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Two ministering angels accompany man on the eve of the Sabbath from the synagogue to his home, one a good [angel] and one an evil [one]. And when he arrives home and finds the lamp burning, the table laid and the couch [bed] covered with a spread, the good angel exclaims, 'May it be even thus on another Sabbath [too],' and the evil angel unwillingly responds 'amen'. But if not, the evil angel exclaims, 'May it be even thus on another Sabbath [tool,' and the good angel unwillingly responds, 'amen'.
Where the assumption is that everything is set up nicely. This is not a request, but rather, describing the steps the angels are taking. Not that the angels have independent will, and we are asking them to do these things. Rather, we are taking them through the paces.

In terms of Machnisei Rachamim (available here at piyut.org), R' Richard Wolpoe last year had an attempted explanation or apologetics, within the bounds of Rambam, that it is requesting that the sound system works. Indeed, Chazal were not heretics, but they believed that the angels delivered prayers to Hashem (and thus there are instructions about not praying in Aramaic). Even so, one should not direct one's prayers to the angel, but to Hashem. We see this fleshed out in the Apochryphal book of Tobit. See my discussion in the comment section at eLomdus. Adjuring angels to deliver the message may or may not be problematic. Read the piyut and draw your conclusions.

But there is a better explanation of Machnisei Rachamim, and it speaks directly to the issue of The Rebbe, The Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference. "The Orthodox" nowadays are in general indifferent to theology, and ignorant of theology. We don't think about it, we don't really care about it, and that is really why we don't bother protesting Chabad theology that much. We are more concerned with actions than theology. Do you really think that the hamon am who sing Barchuni LeShalom are treating it as a tefillah directed towards angels? Most people do not even think about the translation of the words. It is a nice song, with a nice tune, and it is traditional to sing it to welcome Shabbos. There is no underlying theology to it. Similarly, do you think the majority of Jews think about even the plain meaning of machnisei rachamim? In America, I think if you ask many products of a yeshiva education to whom Machnisei Rachamim is directed, they would not know it is directed towards angels. And people say it, without thinking, because it is in their selichot. Halevai that people would actually think about the words they are saying. But they are mostly saying them by rote, and this is especially the case when you have to say things quickly to keep up with the tzibbur, and where there is much else to say.

This is akin to the distinction sometimes made between an apikores and an am ha`aretz -- that "today there is no such thing as an apikores: there is only the am haaretz."

In contrast, Lubavitch is extremely Rebbe-centered to start off with. When If they direct prayers to the Rebbe, or bow to the Rebbe, they do so with a developed theological justification -- one which is very problematic, in that it conflates the tzaddik and Hashem. They are not theologically indifferent, unlike Orthodoxy in general. And therein lies the problem.

Update #1: And see his response there, and my comment there as well. Also, this is all if they are really doing it. See the comment section of this post for more details.

Update #2: In the comment section, both Akiva and Devorah assert that this is not Chabad practice. In the comment thread at Thanbook, he questions that assertion.

At any rate, here are a bunch of posts relating to this issue at the Daas Torah blog. It starts with a comment in a post about Dr. David Berger. That comment read in part:
And, if they look at his picture while praying it is correct. It is discussed by the radvaz in his teshuvos. Many sefardim do that with baba Sali.
There were several follow-up comments, and posts. Thus, the context of the Radvaz was seeing one's (living) teacher during learning. And the Radvaz in another teshuva objected to images being used in shul. In terms of actual practice, we have the following exchange reported in another post:

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

There is no such "Chabad custom"; it's totally false. Please delete this libel.

Not Lubavitch said...

In Rabbi Olensky's shul in North Miami Beach, FL there was a picture of the Rebbe next to the Aron. This was in effect, praying to the Rebbe.

In Rabbi Dalfin's shul in North Bay Village, FL, there was a picture of the Rebbe in the sanctuary (back wall, opposite Mizrach) that the Chassidim would turn to face while davening.

These are two examples of shuls that I personally visited while on vacation where I saw Lubavitcher Chassidim praying to a picture of the Rebbe on the wall.

There are 48 comments on that last post at present, so check it out. And check out the clarification by someone else in those comments, that perhaps they were not directing their tefillot to the picture, in the second of the two instance.

Update #3: They also talk there of a custom of some to have children look at a picture of the Rebbe before saying Shema.


Akiva said...

an explanation of the practice of some Lubavitch of bowing to the Rebbe, to the Rebbe's picture, or directing prayers towards the Rebbe...

Let me state this clearly. Since the Rebbe's hilula, I have davened at a large number of Chabad houses, Chabad yeshivas, and in major Chabad kehilos. I've davened in 770 and Kfar Chabad, Morristown and Tzfat, Jerusalem, Netanya, Beit Shemesh, Monsey and more.


I have seen people saying Yechi and indicating a belief the Rebbe is still alive. I know chassidim who will not go to the kever of the Chabad rebbe's in Queens. I have seen (in 770) the Rebbe's place prepared before each davening, and room made for him to pass should he suddenly arrive, his havdala set prepared right after Shabbat, etc (similar to described in the Mishna for rebbie). And I have met those who await for the Rebbe to complete the process of the geulah, and believe the sichos and ma'amarim of the Rebbe are the final word on the subject and on all the Torah.

But, in no place I have davened have I seen a picture of the Rebbe placed in front, brachos or tefilos made "to" the Rebbe, or the Rebbe treated as more than a tzadik and with the expectations of Moshiach, a human who will usher in the geulah.

I have heard such rumors, and I have seen a sum total of 1 web site that says such things (which I won't share so as not to direct people to such a thing). But in my experience, that's all they are, RUMORS.

Anonymous said...

I have been associated with Chabad for over 15 years, I have never seen or heard of anyone praying or G-d forbid bowing to the Rebbe.
That is an urban legend, not even loshon hora, as it is untrue.
All Lubavitchers pray to Hashem, and Hashem only. If they pray at the Rebbe's grave, it is no different to prayer at any grave of a tzaddik. No-one is praying to the "person", they are praying to G-d, at the holy burial site of a tzaddik.
The reason why Lubavitchers, and other chassidim, have pictures of Rebbes on their walls, is because it is good to look at the face of tzaddik, and not for any other reason.

joshwaxman said...

Thanks, both of you. I hope that you are both correct, for all segments of Lubavitch. (There are of course the crazies, such as the Boreinu folk, such as this guy:

What sparked this present post is the earlier post at Thanbook, available here. He appears to be discussing this behavior specifically in the context of R' Avraham B. Pevzner's "Al Hatzaddikim," where the author apparently claims that these are acceptable and justifiable behaviors.

Thanbo would have to elaborate himself, but on his behalf, his statement was a supposition:
"Suppose an outsider sees this Lubavitcher bowing to the Rebbe, or to his picture."

but it was in the context of the question of whether some significant portion of Lubavitchers consider the Rebbe as part of the Divinity, as an understanding of "atzmus umahus areingeshtelt in a guf," such that even if not bowing to the Rebbe or praying to the Rebbe, when they pray to God they also are praying to the Rebbe. But I will ask him to elaborate.

Kol Tuv,

Yehoishophot Oliver said...

This post is an ugly, vicious libel. No Lubavitcher Chossid does this, G-d forbid. Nor does it say anything of this nature in the book quoted.

Deborah Shaya said...

1. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn tz”l, known as, ‘The Rebbe,’ was NOT the Mashiach.

Those who erroneously believe him to be the Mashiach that Am Yisrael is waiting for today, are bordering on Christianity, and committing the grave sin of Avodah Zarah, Idolatry.

Idolatry is forbidden in the Torah, and is the Second of the Asseret Hadibrot.

Similarly in the case of Breslov with Rav Nachman tz”l.

2. There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person’s tefillot and Hashem.

If a person chooses to use intercession instead of praying directly to Hashem, this is completely Assur.

If the leaders of Lubavitch/Chabad encouraged people to use the “Igrot” /(“Igros”) - including Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, tz”l - they were wrong. Using the Igrot is using intercession. Similarly the practices of

(1) "reading out the Igrot request to a PICTURE of Rabbi Schneersohn tz"l" is direct Avodah Zarah. We are only allowed to pray to Hashem.

(2) sending faxes to the Bet HaChaim should be stopped immediately.

(3) Praying directly to the Tzaddik at the Bet HaChaim is wrong. It causes tremendous tsaar to the Neshamah of the Tzaddik in Shamayim. We pray only to Hashem – directly ourselves. NO mediator is permitted.

These practices are abhorrent and against the Torah. They are assur and forbidden, and should all be stopped.

If the tzaddik advised that people do this in his lifetime – he was wrong. And this must be corrected. Speedily.

TESHUVAH to Hashem should be done speedily instead - by the whole of the Lubavitch organisation especially. The whole of the Lubavitch organisation is currently all refusing to do Teshuvah.

Similarly in the case of Breslov, with those who go Uman to pray directly to the Tzaddik – instead of directly to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

“Intercession” and “mediation” is against the Torah.

The Torah cannot be mixed with Avodah Zarah. This is twisting the Torah, and the Torah must remain straight.

Deborah Shaya said...

2a.There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person’s tefillot and Hashem.

Hashem likes to hear the prayers, tefillot, from our OWN mouths. Even if all we know is how to recite the first 3 letters of the Aleph Bet: Aleph, Bet, Gimmel... Our very own tefillot TO HASHEM, are much more precious than anything else.

By going to the Bet HaChaim (cemetery - incorrectly referred to as “the Ohel” by Lubavitch), and lighting a candle, praying, making a request, and then going home – such a person is “leaving it all to the tzaddik” who is not physically alive. You can’t leave it all “to him!”. This is completely Assur and forbidden.

We too, can be tzaddikim – and be like the tzaddik. The tzaddik has already made all his tefillot to Hashem in his lifetime. And these are very precious to Hashem. The tzaddik has now passed on.

Hashem is now waiting for US – to make our OWN tefillot to Him.

We pray to Hashem – at all times. If a person is insisting on praying to one of the creations of Hashem, instead of directly to the King Himself, Hashem will say to us, "You are meant to pray to ME!"

Remember that Hashem, our G-d, is a very "JEALOUS G-D" who demands "EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP." (2nd Commandment of the Asseret Hadibrot.)

What is your logic in going there?

The Ashkenazi tradition has encouraged people to do this, and it is very wrong. Teshuvah to Hashem must be done quickly.

3. The Jewish People is a “Holy People.” “Am Kadosh.”

We are referred to as being Hashem’s special “Treasure.” We are a “Holy Nation,” and so holy, that we are to emulate the Cohanim, who are of a much higher stature than the rest of the Jewish People. One day, we will all be on the level of a “Kingdom of Priests.”

Hashem has told us, “.…Ve’atem tiheyu li Mamlechet Kohanim ve’goi kadosh…” (Yitro, 19:5-6)

“…And you shall be to Me, a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and a HOLY NATION….”

The Benei Yisrael must follow the example of the true Cohanim. We should emulate the Cohanim in our daily lives. The Cohanim are not allowed to go into any cemetery (Jewish or not Jewish), as they cannot come into contact with ANY meitim whatsoever. We too, should emulate the Kohanim in our daily lives, and be pure like them.

We too, should not be coming into contact with meitim where we can help it.

Hashem has told us, “.…Ve’atem tiheyu li Mamlechet Kohanim ve’goi kadosh…” (Yitro, 19:5-6)

“…And you shall be to Me, a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and a HOLY NATION….”

A person’t tefillot, prayers, from the Kotel, or from his or her own house are truly delightful to Hashem. A person can also go to the Kotel to pray, and make the journey there, to pray to Hashem. Hashem’s Presence is always there.

Deborah Shaya said...

4. Why was the place of Moshe Rabeinu, the very greatest of all the Prophets, kept hidden from us? Precisely so that Moshe would c”v never be worshipped. So that people would never pray to Moshe, c”v, instead of directly to Hashem, themselves. The Torah states very clearly:

“…velo yada ish et kevurato ad hayom hazeh” (Vezot Haberacha 34:6) “…and no man knows the place that he was buried even to this day.”

If people are praying to a tzaddik, who is finite – and of far lesser stature than Moshe Rabeinu – instead of to Hashem – who is Infinite – that is avodah zarah.

If people wish to go to the Kivrei Tzaddikim to pray to Hashem from there, that is their choice. Far better, is to encourage people to go instead to the most holy place in the world – the Kotel. Hashem’s Presence is always there.

The Kotel is where people should be going to pray to Hashem. Not the Bet HaChaim.

5. If people want to pray to anyone else, and make requests of any being other than Hakadosh Baruch Hu, they might as well join Christianity.

When Moshe Rabeinu prayed, he prayed to Hashem. He did not pray to any Malachim or any celestial beings. These are all the creations of Hashem.

We are not allowed to pray to the creations of Hashem.

Similarly, with regard to the Selichot, and the Neilah prayer for Yom Kippur in the Ashkenazi tradition - they include direct Tefillot and requests to Malachim.

The Malachim are the creations of Hashem.

We are not allowed to pray to any Malachim.

This is completely assur and causes very great damage and harm. I emphasise that this is something very grave which needs to be rectified as well - speedily.

The Selichot and the Neilah Tefillah for Yom Kippur should be amended speedily to remove all prayers and requests to Malachim.

Deborah Shaya said...

6. The false argument used by Lubavitch to permit intercession on a person’s behalf, is the act of Calev ben Yefuneh praying at the Cave of Machpelah in Chevron. He prayed for success in his mission of “spying out” the Land, Eretz Yisrael.

No one can use this as a precedent for asking the Tzaddikim - and specifically, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn tz"l - who are no longer alive physically on earth, to pray on a person’s behalf. This causes them tremendous suffering in Shamayim.

This is twisting the Torah, and the Torah cannot ever be twisted.

The reason Calev’s act cannot be used as a precedent, is that NO ONE, can be compared to the supreme Kedusha of the Avot, of Avraham, Yitzchak ve’Yaakov Avinu.

We pray the Amidah 3 times a day, and we always recall the great merit of the Avot in the very first Beracha. What can be greater than that when we pray to Hashem?

This does need to be corrected very quickly, to be in line with the Torah.

7. When people need help, why doesn’t Lubavitch teach people to look inside the Torah, which is Eternal and Infinite - instead of letters written to other people by Rabbi Schneersohn tz”l during his lifetime?

Why doesn't Lubavitch choose the very greatest of all prophets, Moshe Rabbeinu?

8. Moshe Rabeinu is the greatest of all prophets, and no other prophet was equal to him.

“Zichru Torat Moshe Avdi” we are told in Malachi (3:22)

There simply is no comparison between Moshe Rabbeinu and Rabbi Schneersohn tz”l, although Rabbi Schneersohn tz”l was a Tzaddik and a very righteous and good man.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest of all prophets, and we do not even pray in the name of Moshe. Neither do we pray in the name of David Hamelech, whose descendent is the Mashiach.

However, in the very first Beracha of the Amidah, the silent prayer to Hashem containing our requests, we recall the merit of the Avot: “…..Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzhak Velokei Yaakov….” “….The G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzhak and the G-d of Yaakov…”
The beracha is concluded with “Magen Avraham.

In summary:
(1) We pray to Hashem – at all times.

(2) There should be NO mediator between Hashem and a person’s tefillot – otherwise this is Assur.

Therefore the practice of using the “Igrot” /(“Igros”) for "requests" and "guidance" should be stopped. Similarly the practices of sending faxes to the Bet HaChaim, and praying to the tzaddik at the Bet HaChaim instead of directly to Hashem ourselves - should be stopped immediately. They are abhorrent and against the Torah.

The reason for this is that these practices use intercession. And the use of a “mediator” or someone to “intercede on a person’s behalf” to Hashem, is assur.

Teshuvah to Hashem must be done - very speedily.

Deborah Shaya said...

Many people today have been misled into avodah zarah (idolatry), of one kind or another. Some people have been misled unknowingly. The sting of avodah zarah can cause terrible harm c"v.

Nevertheless, there is always great hope. And that is the great light of Teshuva (returning to Hashem, our G-d.) Hashem is calling out to us every day, to return to Him properly, with a pure heart:

“……shuvu Eilai ve’Ashuva aleichem amar Hashem Tzevakot…..” (Malachi 3:7)

“……return to Me and I will return to you, says Hashem, Master of Legions…..”

Teshuvah is very great and is regarded very highly in Shamayim. A person should seize the opportunity to do Teshuva to Hashem right now, while “the Gates of Teshuva are open”.

Teshuva is one of the greatest Gifts that Hashem, Our G-d, has given to us. So swallow your pride.

By doing a true and sincere Teshuva to Hashem, the brachot (blessings) from Hashem will come into a person’s life, and obstacles will begin to shift.

1. I will list below:
(a) what the sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah are. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life). And

(b) what a person should do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life.

2. I will then list a few mitzvot, and practical steps that a person can take, in order to do Teshuvah for any kind of involvement in avodah zara.

Deborah Shaya said...

What are the Sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah? (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life)

What should a person do to remove the sources of tumah and Avodah Zara from her/his home/life?


We are specifically commanded against idolatry, in the SECOND COMMANDMENT of the Asseret Hadibrot:

‘Do not have any other gods BEFORE ME.’

‘Lo yiheyeh lecha elokim acherim AL PANAI.’

And: ‘Do not represent (such gods) by any CARVED STATUE OR PICTURE of anything in the heaven above, or the earth below, or in the water below the land.
Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them.

I am G-d your Lord, A JEALOUS G-D, who demands EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.

Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and fourth (generation).
But for those who love Me and keep My Commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations.)’

‘Lo ta’aseh lecha PESEL, vechol temunah asher bashamayim, mima’al va’asher ba’aretz, mitachat va’asher ba’mayim, mitachat la’aretz. Lo tishtachaveh lahem, ve’lo ta’avdem, KI ANI HASHEM ELOKECHA, KEL KANAH, poked avon avot al banim, al shileshim, ve’al ribe’im, le’sonay.
Ve’osseh chessed la’alafim, le’ohavai, u’leshomrei mitzvotai.’

(Parsha of Yitro, Chapter 20, verses 3-6)

Hashem, our G-d, is a very “Jealous G-d” who demands “Exclusive worship.”

Deborah Shaya said...


Do not go into any of the following, as they are all places of idolatry, and AVODAH ZARAH (literally ‘strange worship’). They deny the Sovereignty of Hashem, the One G-d, and Creator of the World.

- Churches
- Buddhist temples
- Hindu temples
- Sikh temples
- Greek temples
- Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
- Freemasonry

There is a lot of TUMAH in them (spiritual ‘uncleanliness’ which can affect a person has veshalom, physically and spiritually in different ways). Always walk to the opposite side of the road rather than walk directly past one of these buildings e.g. a church.
If any Jew is a “Freemason,” this too is based upon Avodah Zarah. He/she must stop going to such a place, and associating with “freemasons.”


These are graven images. They should IMMEDIATELY be removed from your home and discarded, no matter how much they might have cost, or the sentimental value attached to them. They are a strong source of Tumah.

3. Tefillah/Prayer – in the synagogue, and at home.

(a) There should be NO IMAGES whatsoever, inside any shul.

There should be NO IMAGES of
inside any synagogue.

Any images of a person, animal or object should be REMOVED immediately, and ENTIRELY out of the synagogue or shteibl. No matter how large or small they may be. This is against the Halachah.

(b) When praying at home, a person should endeavour to pray in a room which does not contain any images or paintings of a person, animal or object.

Deborah Shaya said...


These are a strong source of TUMAH, and bring in a lot of negativity into the home. These books and magazines negatively affect those who live in that home.

Go through every book in your home very carefully, and check for the following. If it falls into one of these categories, or you have doubt about it – sort them out into a pile, and then DISPOSE of these books as soon as possible, and take them out of your home. Or at least take them out of your home and put them in a shed if you can.

It is a very great MITZVAH to remove such sources of Tumah from your home. If some of these books were expensive – discard them anyway, and put aside how much they cost. They are a form of Avodah Zarah, and should be removed immediately.

• Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

The following are some examples:

(a) ‘New Age’ books – (e.g. Indian authors, ‘Shambhala’ publications)

(b) Philosophical books (e.g. by Indian writers such as Deepak Chopra etc)

(c) Yoga/Tai Chi/Reiki.

Yoga/Tai Chi (qigong)/Reiki books; yoga and reiki magazines &leaflets; tai chi (qi kung) magasines & leaflets; yoga/tai chi/reiki DVD’s & CD’s; yoga/tai chi special clothing:-

• These physical exercises and practices are all based upon AVODAH ZARAH (idolatry). They all come from a SOURCE OF TUMAH. (‘Tumah’ is spiritual ‘uncleanliness’, which is extremely damaging to a person’s home and life).

• The Torah cannot be mixed with Avodah Zarah. This is twisting the Torah, and the Torah must remain straight.

• Have Emunah (faith) in Hashem, the King of the World, that He will help you to find another alternative form of exercise.

Hashem, our G-d, and Creator of the World, is, “The Healer of all flesh, and performs wonders.” (From ‘Asher Yatzar’ prayer said every morning.)

(d) Meditation books - by non-Jewish or unorthodox Jewish writers.

Buddhism abounds with “meditation.”
Meditation is only for Prophets – it is not for the ordinary man or woman.

(e) Books that appear ok – but contain many idolatrous images and drawings e.g. mathematical or philosophical books interspersed with pictures of dragons; snakes; mandalas; crosses; ‘third eyes’; hindu gods; hindu goddesses; buddhas; tibetan gods; egyptian gods; greek gods; stone/gold idols etc etc – THESE SHOULD ALL BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY FROM YOUR HOME.

Deborah Shaya said...

3. MEZUZOT – (Positive Mitzvah, commandment in the Shema – affirming that G-d is ONE, and warning against idolatry.)

Check that:

(a) You have properly affixed a mezuzah on EVERY DOORWAY which needs a mezuzah. This includes archways, patio doors, folding doors, side doors to garden, garden doors.

(b) If any places in your home are lacking a mezuzah, purchase one as soon as possible from a qualilfied Sofer (Scribe), and put it up as soon as possible.

(c) Check that ALL your mezuzot are kosher, as soon as you can. These should be given to a qualified Sofer (scribe) for checking.

(d) Mezuzot should ideally be checked ONCE A YEAR.

4. Travel to the KOTEL in Israel. If you can travel with a group of people who are going for the purposes of Teshuvah, this is even better. The purpose will be to pray, (Tefila and Teshuva), and ask Hashem, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, for His forgiveness, for mechilah.

If a group can be arranged, this will be a greater mitzvah for everyone who joins. If you can go individually to the Kotel, in the meantime, before the group travel, this is also very good.

5. When you have done 1-3 and/or 4 above, (summarised below as well), you should obtain the special BERACHA, (bracha, blessing) of someone who is known to be a TRUE KOHEN/COHEN. This will bring Hashem’s brachot of the material and spiritual blessings directly into your life.


1. Say the Ketoret – at least twice a week.
Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

2. Give Tzedakah to recognised charity in Israel.

3. Mezuzot - Have you affixed a mezuzah on every doorway?
- Have you checked that all your mezuzot are kosher?

4. Kotel in Israel – in a group (and individually, if possible).

5. Bracha of a true Kohen/Cohen.

Deborah Shaya said...

HOW TO DO TESHUVAH FOR AVODAH ZARAH – once you have removed all sources of Tumah, and Avodah Zarah from your home/life.

1. Say the KETORET twice a week at least (Tefillah, prayer).

The Ketoret has great Kedushah, (holiness) and power to transform all negatives into positives. Say the full text of the Ketoret in the full “Sefarad” version.

If you can say it every day, including Shabbat, this is even better. You can say it as many times as you like during the day.

The Ketoret is said formally 3 times a day in total: twice in the Shacharit, and once during the Minchah prayer.

2. Decide on an amount to give to TZEDAKAH, (charity) in Israel, so that it ‘hurts you’ a little bit. Give to a proper registered charity, such as a hospital or emergency services.

Deborah Shaya said...

5. (a) Written “Requests” of the Igrot/Igros (letters of advice written to other people by Rabbi M. Schneerson tz”l during his lifetime);

(b) FAXES and LETTERS “SENT TO” Rabbi M. Schneersohn tz”l after he passed away in 1994 – at the Bet HaChaim (incorrectly referred to as the, “Ohel” by Lubavitch);

(c) Any other written “communications with” tzaddikim at the Bet HaChaim (cemetery), who are not physically alive.

These written requests should all be destroyed. However “nice” or “comforting” or “accurate” the “reply you received” was; or whatever “bracha you received;” or “whatever the date of the letter was;” – these writings should be destroyed. They are pure Avodah Zarah.

• There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person’s tefillot (prayers) and Hashem.
If a person chooses to use intercession instead of praying directly to Hashem, this is completely Assur, and forbidden.


If you have taken holiday photographs of e.g. Buddhist temples, whether on the outside or inside, these are a source of Tumah, and should be discarded. Similarly for buddhist celebrations. These places of AVODAH ZARAH completely DENY THE SOVREIGNTY OF HASHEM, the One and Only G-d, and Creator of the World. They should not be in your home.

The same applies to photographs of:
- Churches
- Hindu temples
- Sikh temples
- Greek temples
- Temples/buildings of any other kind of foreign worship.
- Freemasonry

Sort through your photographs, and discard those that relate to Avodah Zarah.

However attached you may feel to these photographs, they should be discarded, as they completely deny the Sovereignty of Hashem.

• Instead, place your EMUNAH (faith) in Hashem, the Creator, and King of the World, that He will bless all your endeavours, and new, good things, will now be able to come into your life. You might start to feel better in yourself.

7. Discard any other items related in any way to Avodah Zarah. No matter how small and insignificant, or however large e.g. bookmarks with pictures of churches; jewellery and accessories.


1. Do not go into any places of idolatry.

2. Discard and remove from your home all stone/wood sculptures e.g. sculptures of:
(a) the human form (“nudes.”)
(b) the human face
(c ) statues – of the human form in particular.

3. Books – discard and destroy all books relating to Avodah Zarah.

4. Photographs – discard and destroy all photographs of Avodah Zarah.

5. Discard any other items you have relating to Avodah Zarah e.g.jewellery.


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