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My Machberes

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The Red Strings Of Kever Rachel

Many question the alleged powers of the red strings from Kever Rachel. Supposedly, one who wears a red string that was wound around Rachel’s tomb is protected from the evil eye as well as other negative influences. Some men carry red strings in their wallets, and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant sometimes wear red strings around their waists.

Kever Rachel

Dubious peddlers of Kabbalah promise all types of mystical powers for anyone willing to pay exorbitant prices for their red stings guaranteed to have come from Kever Rachel. These same impostors recently organized a “mystical” dance by men and women, Jewish and non-Jewish, together on the rooftop of Kever Shimon bar Yochai (Kever Rashbi) in Meron, where they also recited the Kaddish, making it into a mockery.

Some have likened the red strings of Kever Rachel to superstitious practices resembling idol worship as described in Tosefta Shabbos 7:1, where certain practices, including tying a red string around one’s finger, are prohibited because of “darchei emori.” The practice of having the string wound around Kever Rachel seven times is cited as “traditional,” with out any specifics.

In a responsum published in 1987, Rabbi Moshe Stern, zt”l (1914-1997), Debretziner Rav and author of Beer Moshe, responded to an inquiry regarding tying strings on children to ward of the evil eye. He wrote: “That was the common practice; they were careful to tie a red string on the carriage or the crib of a child because of the evil eye. All of these are the practices of elderly women, regarding which the Rashba wrote that we should not mock their words and practices, for they are certainly founded in the sacred origins, even if we have forgotten the reasons.”

In a letter to the editor of Der Blatt, the popular Satmar Yiddish weekly, a reader, responding to an article on the history of Kever Rachel in which the author stated that the segulah of the red string has no Jewish source and that the practice is a non-Jewish one, claimed to have asked a respected chassidishe rebbe about this and was given a number of citations, among which were the following:

Sefer Yesod Likra, by Rabbi Aryeh Leib Liphshitz and Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz-Halberstam, published in Jerusalem in 1927, and republished in 2003 by the Kever Rachel Institute: “The custom of winding red string around Kever Rachel becomes blessed and …it is an established segulah to ward off pains and the evil eye, for fertility, easy birth, and more.”

Sefer V’zeh Shaar Hashamayim by Rabbi Dovid Rozoff: “That it is an old custom to tie the red string around the neck or wrist, as a protection against many dangers, especially for pregnant women. First one should wind the string around the monument at Kever Rachel, thus transforming it to a segulah, proven effective time after time.”

Sefer Shut Meoros Noson by Rabbi Noson Geshtetner, zt”l (1932-2010), rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ponim Me’iros and rav of Kiryas Agudas Yisroel in Bnei Brak: “Red string is wound around the monument of our Mother Rachel and is tied around the wrist for a segulah and for a yeshuah. It is well known that our mothers and grandmothers did so from the earliest times, and that it is a tradition passed down from generation to generation….”

Expanded Simcha Of The Vishnitzer Chassunah

On Wednesday, February 1, Yoel Yesochor Dov Berish Shneibalg married the daughter of Rabbi Meir Teitelbaum, son of Rabbi Yosef Teitelbaum, Neplemitzer Rav in Boro Park. Rabbi Meir is the son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer Fish, Biksader Rebbe; who is a son of Rabbi Nochum Zvi Fish, zt”l (d. 2003), Biksader Rebbe; son of Rabbi Eliezer Fish zt”l Hy”d(1880-1944), Biksader Rebbe and author of Shem Eliezer murdered in the Holocaust. Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer is a son-in-law of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe

The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rav in Boro Park; son of Rabbi Moshe Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rebbe in Williamsburg; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneibalg, Manchester Rav. Rabbi Moshe is the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliyahu Aryeh Terkeltaub, zt”l, Asho Rav. Rabbi Menachem Mendel is the son of Rabbi Dovid Shneibalg, zt”l (1894-1969), Vishnitzer dayan and rosh yeshiva in Grossverdein. Rabbi Dovid was appointed rosh yeshiva at the yeshiva’s inception in 1918. Surviving the Holocaust, he established Beis Medrash Machzike Hadaas in Manchester, England.

Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg is the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchas Hager, Boro Park Vishnitzer Rav and son of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. Thus both chassan and kallah are great-grandchildren of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

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