Rabbis Need to Be Careful When Dispensing Advice

Rabbis Need to Be Careful When Dispensing Advice

I am sure my long time readers remember the immigration hell I went through after I married the KoD.

Things were really bad at the time, and we were getting no answers from the immigration people.

A friend suggested that the next time I was in Monsey I should go and see a certain Rabbi, he will give me a bracha (blessing) and some advice on how to proceed. (For a fee – of course). Desperate times call for desperate measures. The KoD wasn’t really on board with it, but we figured what could it hurt.

We met with the secretary / assistant and gave our Hebrew names, and a synopsis of what the issues were for which we were seeking advice and brachot. Eventually we were ushered in to the room where the Rabbi sat, with several of his minions. He did not speak English, so all the conversation was conducted through the assistant.

What was his solution? We should have a baby together, me and the KoD, and the zechut of bringing a new soul into the world will solve our immigration issues. He didn’t ask me if I could have more children, if we wanted more kids, if we could afford more kids or if it was even on our radar. Nope. Have a baby and your troubles are over. He repeated this advice three times.

I could not get out of there fast enough. Seriously – babies solve everything? How on earth would having a baby fix my immigration issues?

I get that there are Rabbis and Mekubalim who are helpful – I did not go to see this guy for anything but a bracha that life could get better. I didn’t want a bracha that I should have more kids! Where is the responsibility? What if it was dangerous for me to have a baby, but I got pregnant anyway because the Rabbi said I should, and after giving birth I died from complications. Would the Rabbi look after that child? Would he help my husband and my other kids who lost their mom? Would he take responsibility?

This experience was about money for this particular Rabbi. Pay for a bracha, and some mumbo-jumbo ridiculous advice, and on the way out, they hit you up for more money, so they can have someone daven at the kotel for the soul of your unborn baby. Or something.

I am angry that I was taken in, I am upset that I was that desperate that I put even a little bit of faith in the power of a Holy Man to give us a bracha. My prayers are now between me and God, no middlemen. I think maybe my faith should have been stronger back then that things would work out. And they did. Not smoothly, but eventually we moved down, got our Green Cards and have continued on with our lives.

Have you had similar experiences? Have you been to religious / spiritual leaders for advice  - was it useful?


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  1. Abe Kohen says:

    Rebbe gelt or hooker gelt? The latter is preferable, because there is likely to be at least some hana-ah. When my sweat-shop working single mom needed a get from my reluctant father, the rebbe held out for more money, which mom could ill afford, until my aunt shamed the rebbe into accepting a smaller amount. A man who got a heter d’mea rabbanim (100 rabbis permit to marry a second woman while not divorced from wife #1) explained to me that he offered rebbe gelt to 200 rabbis, of which 100 accepted the gelt. Glass half full: nice to know that there are still some reputable people with smicha who won’t take the bribe and make wife #1 miserable.

  2. batya from nj says:

    I’ve never been to a rebbe/mekubal for advice or brachos but a friend of mine went to a mekubal & he convinced her to try for a baby to have a name for her recently deceased mother. This friend was nearly 50 when she received this advice & was already overwhelmed with her lot in life. Her oldest son had a severe form of autism & required many therapies & intervention & she had 2 other children.

    She always seemed so overwhelmed to me between her busy household & she also worked full-time plus as a professional.

    In any case, she followed the advice of this mekubal & ended up having twin girls. I don’t know WHAT she would have done had she had twin boys & was unable to name after her mother.

    TG, she is more or less managing with lots of babysitting & cleaning help but I just feel badly for her that she was brainwashed into having these babies when she was already overwhelmed with her life before the twins came into the picture.

    It’s sad for me when rabbanim are quick to dispense ‘wonderful’ advice for others to have babies when it’s no sweat off their back but their followers have to deal with all of the expenses & challenges involved in child-rearing.

  3. Shorty says:

    Dumb question, how do you know for certain, that is what the Rabbi said, could the assistant “faked” the translation, or could you understand enough that, that’s what he was saying. Just wondering.

    • HaDassah says:

      He was speaking Yiddish – I understood enough to know that the translation was basically the same.

  4. Batya says:

    You learned a lot from it, and that’s the important thing. We Jews don’t need intermediaries between us and G-d. That’s the lesson of Chana in Shiloh.

  5. Mark says:

    “Holy Man”

    There’s no such thing as a “holy” man, only God is holy.

  6. Gail Lobel Rand says:

    When I was still married to my ex-husband, a Shabbat guest brought a beautiful kiddush cup whose inside was engraved with multiple blessings. She told us that whoever uses the cup will have their prayers answered. When she handed it to my ex, I informed her that if that resulted in my having another child, she was going to be financially responsible for him/her :-)

  7. karen says:

    Hadassah, be careful who you go to. Authentic rabbanim who are respected by klal Yisrael do not charge money to give brachos.
    I can give you a list of twenty-five or more- great talmidei chachamim, full of Ahavas hashem and Ahavas yisrael. Just because someone advertises that he is a rabbi and effects miracles doesn’t mean it’s true.

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