Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can Tzaddikim give a brocha and get immediate results?

...with some healthy and honest skepticism provided at the end by DovBear

I posted the following story on my blog, Life in IsraelSomebody tweeted a link to the story, and a discussion ensued. I will post the tweets of the discussion at the end of the story.

The Mishpacha newspaper from this past week reported on a miraculous story of solving an agunah.

The story takes place in New Square, USA. Where all the Skverer Hassidim live. They opened up their camp, "Camp Malka" to people from Lakewood and other communities in New York. The girls, 16 year olds, were taken on a trip to New Square to tour the town, daven at the graves of previous rebbes and to go in, as a group, to the Admor and receive words of inspiration and bracha.

A counselor noticed one of the girls who was very disturbed and emotional. She approached the girl and suggested that she write a kvittel for the rebbe, if she has a personal issue. The girl, not being a Skverer Hassid, refused. The counselor suggested that after they go in as a group, perhaps she will feel differently, and if she should change her mind and want a word with the rebbe, she would try to help her.

While they were by the rebbe, she started to tell her story in tears. Her sister, it turns out, has been happily married and her husband is one of the best guys in Lakewood (aren't they all???). Shortly before the birth of their third child, the husband became exposed to some bad things (the way it is written sounds like he suddenly found the internet and fell into some bad ways) and gave in to his Yetzer Ha'Ra. His descent was sharp and quick.

Eventually this husband picked himself up and left her. he just disappeared. Abandoned his wife and kids, abandoned religion, and disappeared.

The first couple of years they tried to stay in contact, and they tried to influence him in all sorts of ways to give her a get. He refused every time. Now he has been gone for 3 years, and in the last year he has completely disappeared leaving no trace of his whereabouts. He moved around a lot and is gone - they cannot find him.

The wife sits home and cries, and she has decided to ask the rebbe for a bracha for her sister.

The counselor took her in to the gabbai's room and she wrote a kvittel with her sister's name on it, and the husband's name as well.

After the group spoke with the rebbe, she gave him her kvittel and told him the story.

Instead of asking for more details and showing interest and finding out the details, as he usually does, he simply waved it off and said there is nothing to worry about, everything would be good and he gave a bracha.

A few hours later, the following morning the husband calls home, to his wife in lakewood, and says that he has reconsidered and has decided to give her a get right away and get closure. She said she can't fly to where he was located, as she has the little kids, so he said he could come to Lakewood and she should make all the arrangements in beis din for the next day.

He came, he divorced, and he left.

After the divorce, the younger sister told the family about the bracha she had just gotten the day before from the Skverer Rebbe, and the family then took a trip to thank the rebbe for the yeshua.


DovBear started off asking: @JBN where are the tweets about the times he gave a brocha and no get was ever forthcoming? and @JBN you have to tell us his batting avg. does every brocha produce a get? 50%? 10%?

@DovBear why would that be newsworthy - that he gave a bracha and nothing happened? big deal. it is newsworthy when it works

@DovBear he linked to a post on LII. and I wrote it but took it from Mishpacha newspper. dont know statistics on it though @JBN

DB: @gldmeier a) how do you know it worked? I see no cause and effect. b) Its a classic con man trick to announce successes only

DB: @gldmeier the purpose of the story is to establish him as a miracle worker. If his success rate is 1% more likely this was a coincidence

@gldmeier If 1000 ppl per day came 2 me for brochot Id get some hits too. So did he magically help with get or was it coincidence of timing?

DB: @gldmeier no not at all. It could still be a coincidence that she happened to get the get on day she went. Again, whats his hit rate?

RG: @DovBear since story specifically says he didnt ask for details, it is clear that its the timing that indicates his brocha did it

Why is miracle working rabbi the only profession that doesnt publish a success rate?

DB: @gldmeier maybe it was the bagel she ate for breakfast that did it? Anyone/thing can take credit.

@DovBear doesnt bother me if you prefer to believe it was her bagel breakfast that did the job...

RG: @DovBear does tzaddik not have any such ability? is there no such thing? (not specifically in this story)

DB: @gldmeier Not the point. Even if tzadik has such power (which I deny) there are no grounds to believe this part. case was a miracle.

RG: @DovBear is it possible some cases are more "prone" to intervention of tzaddik and some less?

@HilzFuld i cld tell you stories and stories about cases that are 1000 percent scams. They may be rabbis but they use gypsy methods

RG: @HilzFuld lol.. I think "tzaddik" is in the eye of the guy asking for the bracha. @DovBear

@HilzFuld rt now theres case in 5 towns where some scamster is promissing refuah but cash up front pls, and the marks are making collection

RG: @DovBear in Judaism we dont believe in coincidence

@gldmeier yes we do. see the rishonim (and even so, no raya it was the brocha and not some other merit that helped)

@JYuter how awesome wld that be if the rebbe cards listed their hit rate! @hilzfuld @gldmeier

@hilzfuld fact that they boast about hits and not hit rate is telling (and damning.) @JYuter @gldmeier

RG: @DovBear tru. it was the family who felt that it was the rebbes bracha, went 2 thank him & publicized the story. they cn blve wht they wnt


I tried to reconstruct the tweets into some sort of order that made sense..

So, what do you think? Is there such a thing as a tzaddik that can give a brocha and solve a problem, like snapping the fingers? Was it just coincidence? Do we need to know success rates of any specific tzaddik before deciding whether the result was because of him or despite him?

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