(1) What is the true perspective on the accepted custom amongst certain sects of Jewry that when one is faced with any form of suffering or illness G-d forbid, that the way to receive salvation is to pray by the graves of tzaddikim? We find certain prayers to say by the graves of tzaddikim, which are printed in the sefarim hakedoshim and also in the works of the Poskim. When should a person pray by the graves of tzaddikim, and which kinds of people need to do so?
(2) Also, is there a particular grave of any tzaddik in Eretz Yisrael that it is proper to pray by [to merit salvation from any form of suffering]?
1 – Praying by the grave of a tzaddik is one the ways [to merit salvation]. Some of our Gedolim made heavy use of this approach, and some of our Gedolim didn’t pray at all by almost any graves of tzaddikim .
The reason [that some Gedolim would often pray by graves of tzaddikim] is because a burial place of a tzaddik is a place in the world where there is more G-dliness revealed. [There is a concept called “Olam, Shanah, Nefesh” – “World” (place), “Time”, and “Soul”, meaning that there is an avodah which exists on the level of the “soul” alone, as well as in a “place” [as well as in “time”]. So there can be an avodah on a level that is purely “soul”, and there is also an avodah which makes use of a “place”. A soul which is more rooted in “place” will make much more use of visiting the graves of tzaddikim. As for the proper time of when to make use of this avodah, the Arizal said that the proper time for this is Erev Rosh Chodesh.
2 – The main “place” in the world where one can pray by is:
(A) Kever Rachel (the Tomb of Rachel), as the Vilna Gaon said. Rachel is called the Shechinah (Hashem’s Presence on this world), and she is also called the malchus (royalty) which joins with the pain of the Jewish people.
(B) The “Kever Rashbi” (the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) is also the proper place to pray by, for Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said, “I am able to exempt the entire world from the attribute of judgment.” Thus, praying by the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai has the power to sweeten a harsh judgment and thereby nullify it.
(C) Alternatively, being that a person can also receive salvation through the power of emunah (faith in G-d), the Kever Chavakuk (the tomb of Chavavuk) is also a proper place to pray in, for it was the prophet Chavakuk who said that “the righteous person shall live by his faith.”
(D) Additionally, one can go to the grave of the saint Baba Sali, for he lived closer to our generation.
(E) One can also:
- bond with the collective unit of the Jewish people, and by bonding his soul with the Avos (forefathers) specifically, by going to Mearas HaMachpailah (the Cave of Machpela).
- One can also go to the graves of Aharon HaKohen, Yosef HaTzaddik and Dovid HaMelech (who are included the “seven shepherds”).
- One can also go to the graves of those who revealed the Torah: the grave of Rabbi Akiva, who was the main revealer of the Oral Torah, and the grave of Rashbi, who was the main revealer of the Hidden Torah.
- One can go to any graves of a similar nature. There is also another way [to attain salvation from suffering and illness]: by bonding to one’s personal soul root [Ed: by going to a grave of a tzaddik who bears the same soul root as yours].