If and when a Torah individual visits a grave, he reflects on the life of the gadol and turns away (both literally and figuratively). Out of sight, and out of mind. There are those who posit that they are merely asking the tzadik to pray for them. Chazal also addressed this issue, both from the perspective of whether the dead can actually do anything for us, and if it is halachically permitted. In short, the popular notion of a “meilitz yosher” (intercessor) is dangerous and halachically and hashkafically problematic. It is foolish to needlessly subject oneself to the problematic issues relating to biblical prohibitions. We have no need of intermediaries. We pray directly to The Creator.

Entire movements within “orthodoxy” propagate a Judaism of outlandish folklore and “Jewish mysticism.” One who has any sense of yahadut knows that such practices and beliefs are often an expression of 2000 years of living with goyim, either x-tian or Muslim. As far as those who purport to be wonder-workers, they are all charlatans, and those who would send you to them are delusional or worse. No proper Torah authority, no genuine gadol, ever engaged in such practices themselves or encouraged others to do so.


Prayer: Halachic Not Primitive

Man can call out to Hakadosh Baruch Hu at any time, and in any tongue. There is a concept of halachic tefillah (issues related totime, place, etc.) and a Jew must adhere to them. And then there is man’s individual right to call out to G-d in general. (Tehillim would certainly be an expression of this, albeit on a more elevated level.) The main problem with so-called hitbodedut (self seclusion) that many are attracted to is that it presupposes a false relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu based upon primitive thinking. Hashem is not “our friend” as these practitioners are wont to believe. Such childish notions (while understandable for a child) are anathema to yahadut, along with other infantile notions such as those who conceptualize G-d (Heaven Forbid) figuratively. According to Maimonides such beliefs are heresy. Contemporary expressions of hitbodedut are certainly deviations from Judaism, and the influence from foreign cultures is apparent when one reads the literature.

Jews should abandon questionable practices and emulate David Hamelech who used the majesty of the creation and the natural world to reflect on The Almighty. This is indeed a Jewish endeavor, because it solidifies in the mind of any true thinking person that there is a G-d. As such, even an overnight in the forest can be a Jewish expression and an intellectual endeavor, albeit without the constraints of “dry intellectualism.” I personally remember with fondness escaping by myself to some wilderness “to get away from it all”. It can be healthy and clear your head. But to enter the forest for the purpose of screaming out “Aba” to the heavens like an escapee from an asylum is an entirely different matter.

Naturally, there is significant danger anytime man approaches the natural world without the intellect. As the Rambam teaches us, this was the original mistake of the people in the days of Enosh, who started to worship the stars as both worthy of such service and an expression of honoring The Almighty. Instead of learning from nature and reflecting on the source of all creation, their flawed thinking degraded into overt deification of nature. They became idolaters.

The native American tribes personified this. They accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge about the earth. They mastered the science of the interconnectivity of ecosystems, the patterns and behaviors of animals, tracking skills, and weather. Furthermore, they respected the earth and didn’t waste natural resources. The problem? They deified nature. We see this mentality today among many “secular” Israelis who find “spirituality” in the idolatrous East, and bring back Hindu ideas and other forms of nature worship. A return to the ideology of idolatrous Canaan.


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Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam's rational approach to Judaism.