web analytics
December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Visiting The Graves Of Tzaddikim

         For the past few weeks I have been describing my trip through Poland to different graves of Polish tzaddikim of the past. I visited over 30 sites, from the earliest-known graves in Lublin and Krakow, to the final resting place of those that were murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust. I even had the sad zechut, in Warsaw, to partake in the mitzvah of accompanying a person on his last journey.


 


         It is a minhag (custom) to pray at these holy sites. This is often misconstrued as praying to the tzaddik himself and there has been a debate throughout the ages whether or not this is proper.

 

         The idea of praying at the grave of a tzaddik is traced back to the Torah. When Moshe sent the spies to the land of Canaan he added a Heh to Yehoshua’s nameto remind him that he is constantly in the presence of Hashem and should always do the right thing. Kalev Ben Yefunah, who did not receive this extra protection, went to pray at the Ma’arat HaMachpelah in Hebron.

 

         Although everyone agrees one should or could go to a cemetery, there is a debate about the motive for our going. Some say that we go to pray at the grave to Hashem in order to get chizuk or encouragement from the holy person interred there. Others say that by visiting a cemetery we see the end of all flesh and are encouraged to repent. The most common belief is that the deceased will intercede on behalf of the petitioner.

 

         The Breslover Chassidim, for example, travel to Uman every year for Rosh Hashanah, in the hope that Rabbi Nachman will save them from the depths of Gehenom, if they pray at his grave. A similar concept is held for many other chassidic groups, as evidenced by the mass pilgrimages to many of the tzaddikim, such as Rabbi Elimelech of (Lejask) Lizhensk, also known by the title of his sefer, the No’am Elimelech (one of theprincipal works on Chassidus).

 

 


The cemetery in Warsaw contains thousands of Jewish graves. The famous tzaddikim with ohalim are interspersed with both elaborate and simple grave markers of Jews whose names are not familiar to us.

 

 

         The concept of going to a grave in order to realize the end of all flesh has brought to question whether a person has to go to the grave of a tzaddik or will any grave serve the same purpose?            

 

          As to praying to a pious person at his grave to intercede on one’s behalf is discouraged by many leading rabbis of old. The Bach, Yoel Sirkus of Krakow was against the concept and stated that when Calev Ben Yefunah went to Hebron he went to a holy place, made so by the graves, a place that made his prayers more readily accepted.

 

         It is also mentioned by some rabbis that often when we pray to Hashem we invoke the names of our forefathers and other tzaddikim, as in Shemoneh Esrei and many Yom Kippur prayers. These often are reminders to Hashem of the greatness of our forefathers, who came before us, and we ask Hashem to forgive us for their sake if not for ours.

 

         Another idea for the visiting the graves of tzaddikim is that it is a mitzvah to honor your parents. Teachers and rebbes are considered like parents, so visiting their kevarim is a form of honor. There is also a custom to study the teachings of the rabbis, whose graves one visits.

 

         If one is going to visit a cemetery to honor the past there are many people that deserve to be visited. We can honor all Jews that contributed to Jewish life. In the Warsaw cemetery one can find the grave of Esther Kaminska near the graves of many great rabbis. The rabbi’s graves are covered with small buildings, called Ohalim, while Kaminska’s grave has an elaborate tombstone.

 

         In the end we are all part of an “Am Kadosh,” a Holy Nation, and therefore all Jewish gravesites are holy and we as a people fight to preserve graves of all Jews. If cemeteries are not visited they will be left in ruins and, ultimately, destroyed. 

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Visiting The Graves Of Tzaddikim”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ayala Shapira, 11, is fighting for her life after suffering burn wounds when an Arab terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail at the car in which she was riding.
‘Slight Improvement’ in Life-threatening Condition of Firebomb Victim
Latest Sections Stories
Collecting-History-logo

An incredible child protégé and a world chess champion, Boris Spassky (1937- ), best known for his “Match of the Century” loss in Reykjavík to Fischer, will always be inexorably tied to the latter.

book-super-secret-diary

Who hasn’t experienced how hard it can be to fit in?

In our times, most of us when we pray, our minds are on something else-it is hard to focus all the time.

The participants discussed the rich Jewish-Hungarian heritage, including that two-thirds of the fourteen Hungarian Nobel Prize winners have Jewish origin.

Today’s smiles are in the merit of my friend and I made a conscious effort to smile throughout the day.

When someone with a fixed mindset has a negative interaction with a friend or loved one, he or she immediately projects that rejection onto him or herself saying: “I’m unlovable.”

How many potential shidduchim are not coming about because we, the mothers, are not allowing them to go through?

Is the Torah offering nechama by subtly hinting that death brings reunion with loved ones who preceded you?

She approached Holofernes and, with a sword concealed under her robe, severed his head.

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Lauder receiving a special album from Rabbi Maciej Pawlak, director of the Lauder-Morasha school in Warsaw.

In 1989 he hosted a dinner for 157 young Jews with the late Rabbi Chaskel Besser and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland was born.

Part of the reconstructed Gwozdziec Synagogue.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is designed to tell the whole thousand-year story of the Jews in Poland.

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/visiting-the-graves-of-tzaddikim/2007/10/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: