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Oct 29, 2012

Why The Red String?

What's the red string about? Why do people wear red string around their wrists? Why do they sell this red string at various holy places, such as near the Kotel, by Kever Rachel, and by many of the other grave sites of tzaddikim?

I always thought the string supposedly originated from someone who would take these balls of yarn, or bundles, and walk around kever Rachel 7 times chanting certain prayers, and the red string was supposedly expected to ward off ayin ha'ra, the evil eye.

Whether somebody actually took the balls of red yarn and walked around the kever and actually imbued it with whatever powers it supposedly has, is obviously a different story. But that is what I thought it was supposed to be. The association between the red string and kever Rachel is, for some reason unknown to me, very strong and behind the entire mystic belief in the red string's powers.

Due to the yahrtzeit of Rachel Imeinu the other day, someone asked Rav Shmuel Eliyahu about the segulah of the red string.

In my opinion, if anyone would know what the red string is all about, it would be Rav Shmuel Eliyahu. Rav Shmuel Eliyahu's father was Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l, considered one of the greatest kabbalists of recent times. I am sure there are plenty of other people who also know, but I am confident that if anyone knows, Rav Eliyahu knows.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu's response was, according to the article on Bechadrei (quoting from the Yeshiva website, though I couldn't find it there), was that people should be careful not to be too drawn to the strings. The original purpose, he said, was to give the person the feeling of a connection to the tzaddik, to the place. The red string is kind of like tying a string around your finger to remind you of something, or wearing your watch on the "other" wrist for that purpose. The string, Rav Eliyahu said, would be taken and tied to his wrist so as to remind  him of the tzaddik, but there is nothing mystical or magical about it.

And that is the purpose of the red string.

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  1. I also thought that the red string was from kever Rachel, and a quick Internet Search shows that many people are selling that story:

    Although I like (and was surprised by) Rav Shmuel Eliayhu's more rational approach

  2. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/ask_the_expert/at/Ask_the_Expert_Red_String_Bracelet.shtml
    In 2004 when Target was selling red strings that were wrapped around Kever Rochel for $29 Aish.com posted this article
    Several years ago when 'Rabbi' Berg from the Kabbalah Center came to Kever Rachel, some people who came with him walked around to tie the red string around the tomb. The Rav who was the Gabbai of Kever Rachel at the time was angry that men and women were walking around the men's section and the women's section of Kever Rachel and tried to stop him. A fist fight broke out- and believe it or not The Rav who ended up with a broken nose was arrested. The Rav went to trial and was found not guilty. At a later time this Rav felt that the selling of red strings at Kever Rachel were Avoda Zara and for a short time one could only buy blue strings at Kever Rachel.


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