It states in the Talmud, “Rabbi Pinchas ben Hama gave the following exposition, ‘Whosoever has a sick person in his house should go to a tzaddik (righteous person) who will invoke [heavenly] mercy for him’” (Talmud Baba Batra 116a).

Why should a person seek out someone else to pray for them? With three formal prayer services a day and an open invitation for informal, individual prayer, isn’t a person capable of praying for him or herself? The answer is yes, people should pray for themselves, but it never hurts to have a little extra help.

There are many reasons a person might call upon a tzaddik to say a special prayer: illness, help with livelihood, assistance with having children, assistance with raising children, etc. Sometimes a person will go to a tzaddik and just ask for a blessing, leaving it open-ended, asking for general wellbeing and success in life.

While every person can, and should, speak to God on their own, a particularly righteous person may have a special ability to connect with the spiritual. It is interesting to note that there can even be a difference between two righteous people. The commentators note concerning this week’s Torah portion, Toledot, that while both Isaac and Rebecca prayed for children, God responded specifically to Isaac’s prayers “Because the prayer of a righteous person who is the child of a righteous person is not like the prayer of a righteous person who is the child of a wicked person” (Talmud Yebamot 64a).

Whether an individual is in a position to request prayers from a righteous individual or not, they should not hesitate to ask others to pray for them.

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