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Author Topic: Prayers of the Saints in Judaism?  (Read 1479 times) Average Rating: 0
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Augustine
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« on: November 05, 2004, 03:39:39 PM »

Though we should not have to look to Judaists for evidences for our faith (since in truth the Orthodox Church is Israel, her root being the remnant thereof), it would seem that for many Protestants (particularly the fundamental, evangelical variety who are most vocal and conspicuous in North America) the views and beliefs of Jews is of some special importance.

Very often these same Protestants will hold certain Orthodox practices (typically they come to know them via Roman Catholicism) as being "idolatrous" or "inventions of men".  What is interesting however, is that there are certain Orthodox practices which are actually continuations of pre-New-Testament, Israelitic piety.  For example, the kissing of sacred objects is right from Judaism (one need only watch the procession of the Torah through a Synagogue of men to see this).  So is prayer on behalf of the dead (which is still practiced by Jews, and is evidenced in the deuterocanonical books of the Bible, which the Jews pay more regard to than their Protestant-Evangelical friends typically do.)

One thing which most are unaware of however, is the Jewish practice of seeking the intercession of their saints.  The intercession of the reposed TZADDIKIM (saints, righteous ones) is very much valued by "ultra-orthodox" Jews like the Hasids, largely on the basis of Biblical examples like Moses interceeding on behalf of Israel (which we are told is what saved Israel from utter destruction.)  The most typical way of seeking this intercession, is for Jews to visit the graves of these "righteous ones" and offering prayers and alms.  Indeed, in the opinion of some Jewish religious authorities, even directly asking the dead for their intercession is permitted, though understandably given Judaism's solidified "reactionary" position as of the advent of Christianity, there are Jewish authorities who do not believe this is allowed (though they do believe visiting graves and praying there with the hope of obtaining the prayers of the departed tzaddikim is permitted.)

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The ancient minhag yisrael of visiting and davening at graves of tzaddikim during times of tribulation has many sources in Talmudic literature ... But what is the reason for this? How does it help us? ...

The Talmud cites two explanations: 1) To serve as a reminder of man's immortality so that one repent while he still can; 2) To ask the dead to pray for mercy on our behalf ... The second reason quoted in the Talmud - to ask the dead to pray for mercy on our behalf - demands clarification.

Many people assume that this means that we are allowed to pray to the dead to ask them to help us. This is a serious mistake and strictly forbidden. One who prays with this intent transgresses the Biblical command of "You shall not recognize the gods of others in my presence". It may also be a violation of the Biblical command against "one who consults the dead".

If so, what does the Talmud mean when it says that we "ask the dead to beg for mercy on our behalf"? We find two schools of thought concerning this matter:

Some hold that it means that it is permitted to speak directly to the dead to ask them to daven to Hashem on our behalf. This is similar to the prayers that we find throughout Selichos which are addressed to the malachim. Although the malachim - who are merely G-d's messengers - do not posses the ability to do anything of their own accord, still we may ask them to "deliver" our prayers to Hashem. So, too, it is permitted to address the dead directly and ask them to intercede on our behalf at the heavenly throne. (taken from here)

Reading the above excerpt or reading the entire article it was taken from, it's obvious that there is some duplicity involved in the Jewish explanation (a waffling and inconsistancy, which as I mentioned before, is a continuation of Judaism's attempt to define itself in distinction from Christ and His Church), but what is quite clear is that pious Jews do customarily seek the intercession of the righteous dead who they believe are closer to God than they, or at the very least seek to be covered in the merits of their "righteous ones" and obtain them as advocates on their behalf.  The full article the above was excerted from also makes passing mention of the fact that there are Jewish prayers in which the angels (malachim) are directly addressed, with the understanding that they carry prayers to God.

Given that participants in the New Testament are supposed to have better access to the Heavenly City, and the fact that those who "sleep in Christ" are believed to be with Him in this Holy City, if anything a more glowing, unobscured and unambiguous approach to the Saints would seem merited.

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Fr. David
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2004, 05:09:34 PM »

Here's an article I like to post that shows the presence of some of the things you mentioned w/in Judaism.

Good topic, Augustine.
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penelope
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2004, 02:48:10 PM »

One question, from a Christian point of view, wouldn't we have to say that Jewish prayers to the saints would have been useless before the Resurrection?  Because all the souls of the saints would still be in Sheol, would they not?
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2004, 03:43:47 PM »

But the angels were still around the Throne!  St. Michael pray for us!
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2004, 12:58:15 PM »

Thank you for this topic and pointing it out to us, Augustine. Jesus was a Jew. He was the fulfillment of all the heavenly things after which Moses had to fashion the things of the Tabernacle etc. God gave Moses  the patterns of the heavenly things and Jesus explained a lot to the Jews in making reference to those Mosaic laws. I have come to find out that an understanding of those patterns helps a lot with understanding what Jesus spoke about  and why He did what He did.

The Old Testament is a prefiguration of the New.

As for what Penelope says:
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One question, from a Christian point of view, wouldn't we have to say that Jewish prayers to the saints would have been useless before the Resurrection?  Because all the souls of the saints would still be in Sheol, would they not?


Sheol was a place where its inhabitants still could pray, as we can see in Luke 16 where the rich man is conversing and reasoning with Father Abraham. And why would we want to judge the value of the prayers of any soul ?
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