Inspired by the end of this answer:

Just remember that all non-Jews don't follow the Sheva Mitzvot and could [even] be in Avodah Zarah and then would...a blessing [of theirs] matter? It might even be harmful (emphasis mine)?

Is the latter notion above correct? If someone prays for another's well-being, and the prayers are not (entirely) directed towards HaShem, could that harm the person whose well-being is being prayed for?

  • 2
    Why should it? What did the subject of the misdirected prayer do wrong?
    – Dave
    Jun 4 '12 at 17:30
  • @Dave What do the subjects actions have anything to do with it? Jun 4 '12 at 17:34
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Ah, but consider Berachos 56a: Bar Hedya said to himself: What am I to do? We have been taught that a curse uttered by a sage, even when undeserved, comes to pass; how much more so of Rava's, which I deserved! Jun 4 '12 at 18:33
  • 2
    @msh210: on the other hand, "we can confer benefit on someone in his absence, but not a liability" (זכין לאדם שלא בפניו ואין חבין לאדם שלא בפניו).
    – Alex
    Jun 4 '12 at 18:38
  • 2
    @HodofHod - A curse is the exact opposite - it's asking G-d to punish someone. (The matter of how a curse can affect even someone who is "undeserving" probably deserves its own question.)
    – Dave
    Jun 4 '12 at 18:43

The Rambam (Avodah Zarah 11:12) forbids "whispering pesukim" for a cure (calling them "in the category of kofrim") because Torah is meant for spiritual health and not physical health. But the Lechem Mishneh there writes that the Rambam permitted a similar case earlier, of "whispering" to cure a scorpion bite, because in that case there is a sakanah. The Lechem Mishneh explains that it is permissible to do sorcery (which is forbidden) because of sakanah, because the "whispering" works and saves from the sakanah.

Maybe this can be applied to our case. If there is a sakanah, it appears to me that the Rambam (as explained by the Lechem Mishneh) would permit the praying.

  • Even if permitted, would it help or hurt the prayee?
    – Double AA
    Jun 6 '12 at 4:23
  • 1
    @DoubleAA The whole reason why it is permitted is because is helps.
    – b a
    Jun 6 '12 at 4:38
  • 1
    But Whishpering is Kishuf not Avoda Zara. How do you know praying to Avoda Zara works?
    – Double AA
    Jun 6 '12 at 4:41
  • @BA, the original question was asking about a Gentile praying to a god other than Hashem. If you read it carefully, you'll see that the question was framed in the context of an earlier question about non-Jews and their prayers. Why are you even bringing a Rambam? There is no issur for non-Jews! The question, as written, is asking if it's bad for a Jew if a non-Jew prays to an idol or other imagined power aside from or in addition to Hashem. Answers and comments should be sure to differentiate if the person praying is Jewish or non-Jewish.
    – Shemmy
    Jun 6 '12 at 11:24
  • 1
    @Ba, darchei emori are permitted when effective, avodah zarah is different.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Sep 4 '12 at 14:22

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