I don't believe that there should be mediators (like Christians believe Jesus is a mediator between God and man whom they pray to and/or pray through) between us and God, but is there anywhere in the Hebrew Bible where this subject is alluded to?

  • A scholarly paper on the subject.
    – user18041
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:06
  • @MalkaS I'm trying to understand what you are asking. You title and opening statement are about the subject of a mediator between us and G-d & how you disagree with this concept and then you ask, "but is there anywhere in the Hebrew Bible where this subject is alluded to?" Are you asking if the Hebrew Bible has examples where there is a mediator between us and G-d? Or are you asking if there are examples in the Hebrew Bible which prohibit a mediator between us and G-d? Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 13:42

4 Answers 4


I once typed up something about angels in prayer, so I'll use it here, since it's very relevant (I've translated the Hebrew):

Maharal, Nesivos Olam, Nesiv HaAvodah ch. 12:

ומזה משמע שיתפלל אל הש"י שלא יהיה לו צרים אבל שיתפלל ולומר למלאכים אל תהיו צרים לי זה אין ראוי רק שזה יהיה דרך תפילה אל הש"י. אבל אנו נוהגים לומר מכניסי רחמים הכניסו רחמינו לפני בעל הרחמים וגו' ואין זה ראוי כי דבר זה כאילו הוא מתפלל אל מלאכים שיכניסו רחמינו ולא מצאנו זה. ... וי"ל שמה שאנו אומרים מכניסי רחמים הכניסו וכו' אין זה בקשה כלל רק שהאדם מצוה כך למלאכים שהם מכניסים התפילה להכניס התפילה לפני הש"י ויש כח לאדם לצוות למלאכים שהם ממונים על זה שיביאו תפילתו לפני הש"י. ועם כל זה הוא דבר שאין ראוי רק שיהיה מכניסי רחמים תפילה על דרך שאמרו ז"ל שיתפלל האדם שיהיו הכל מאמצים את כחו ולא יהיה לו צרים ויהיה מתפלל אצל הש"י ע"ז ולכך מה שמבקש מכניסי רחמים הוא תפילתו אל הש"י כי מכניסי רחמים יכניסו רחמינו. ולפ"ז ראוי להגיה מכניסי רחמים יכניסו רחמינו משמיעי תפילה ישמיעו תפילתנו מכניסי דמעה יכניסו דמעותינו ... אבל שיאמר מכניסי רחמים הכניסו רחמינו בתפילה זה אין לומר כלל רק יאמר מכניסי רחמים יכניסו רחמינו וכו'.‏

This implies that he should pray to G-d that he not have any enemies. However, to pray "Angels, don't be enemies to me," is not proper, unless it's done in the manner of prayer to G-d. But we have the custom to say [in Slichos] "[Angels] who bring our prayers of mercy [to G-d], bring in our prayers of mercy before the master of mercy" etc., and it isn't proper, because it's like praying to angels to bring prayers of mercy before G-d, and we find no source validating this. ...

However, there is room to defend [the prayer], that when we say "[Angels] who bring our prayers for mercy" etc. is not at all a request, just that the person is saying to the angels who bring in prayers of mercy to bring the prayer for mercy to G-d, and a person has the power to command angels to do this. Nevertheless, it is not proper to say "[Angels] who bring in our prayers for mercy" as anything other than a prayer, like our rabbis said that a person should pray that everyone strengthen him and that he not have enemies and pray to G-d concerning this [which strongly suggests this prayer is meant as a request to the angels]. Therefore, what he requests in "[Angels] who bring in our prayers for mercy" is a prayer to G-d that the angels who bring in prayers for mercy should bring in the prayers for mercy.

According to this, it is more correct to edit the prayer to say "[Angels] who bring in our prayers for mercy will bring in our prayer for mercy, those who cause prayer to be heard will make our prayer heard, those who bring in tears will bring in tears." ... But to say "[Angels] who bring in prayers for mercy, bring in our prayers for mercy mercy" in prayer shouldn't be said at all; only "[Angels] who bring in prayers for mercy will bring in our prayers for mercy," etc.

Shu"t Chasam Sofer 1:166 (which I quoted also in this answer):‏

תמה על הגאון מהר"ל מפראג בספר נתיבות עולם נתיב עבודה פי"ב שמיאן לומר פיוט מכניסי רחמים שאין לנו עם המלאכים כלום כ"א ה' אלקינו שומע קול תפילות ... הרי כל הספרים מלאים ותלך לדרוש את ה' להתפלל כמ"ש הרמב"ם עה"ת ואין צורך להאריך תמיהתי הלא הגאון הנ"ל נשמר מזה באותו הפרק תוך כ"ד. ויען כי דבריו סתומים קצת ע"כ אפרש כי דרך להעמיד מליץ בין מלך להדיוט כשאין ההדיוט חשוב וסגול לפני המלך או אינו יכול להטעים דבריו כראוי. ויען ישראל ואינם צריכים מליץ לפני אוהבם ית"ש והוא מתקבל בסבר פנים יפות אפי' בלשון עלגים וגמגום א"כ המליץ הלז אינו אלא קטנות אמונה חלילה ... ולדברי הגאון הנ"ל גם פזמון מלאכי רחמים וסליחה י"ג מדות האמורות בחנינה יש למנוע.

I am surprised at the great Maharal MiPrag in the work Nesivos Olam, Nesiv HaAvodah ch. 12, who refused to say the prayer "[Angels] who bring in prayers for mercy," because we have nothing with the angels, only G-d, Who hears the voice of our prayers: ... All the books are full of "And she went to seek out G-d," to pray, like the Rambam says on the Torah [?]. There is no need to speak at length about how surprised I am, because that same great one writes this in the same chapter in the same breath! Since his words are slightly hard to understand, I will therefore explain it this way: It's normal to have an intermediary between a king and an ordinary person when the ordinary person isn't important compared to the king, or if the ordinary person can't express his words properly. Since Israel don't need an interpreter between them and G-d Who loves them, and He accepts graciously even gibberish from them, then the intermediary between them displays only that they have little faith, G-d forbid. ... According to the words of the aforementioned great, we should also have to omit the prayers "Angels of mercy" and the slichah that contains the thirteen attributes ["ezkerah elohim ve'ehemayah..."].

Pischei Teshuvah (Isserlein) to Orach Chayim 581:1:

ובתשובות שמש צדקה (סי' כ"ג וכ"ד) מביא מלשון רש"י בסוטה דיחיד צריך שיסעייהו מלאכי השרת, הרי שאין בזה חשש איסור ... ובתשובות מהר"י מברונא (סי' ער"ה) מה שאנו אומרים מכניסי רחמים ומלאכי רחמים דאין לחוש כלל שאין זה דרך אמצעי רק דרך שפלות שהוא בוש בדבר לקרב אל המלך.‏

In the responsa Shemesh Tzedakah (#23-24) he brings the language of Rashi in Sotah that an individual requires the help of the angels, which implies that there is no prohibition involved [in requesting help from them]. ... And in the responsa of Mahari Bruna #275 he says that we have no reason to have any negative feelings at all about what we say "[Angels] who bring in prayers" and "Angels of mercy," because this isn't a request in the way of an intermediary, only humility, that he is embarrassed to approach the king [G-d].

  • 1
    Thank you. Does praying to intercessors fall under the commandments against idolatry or worshipping foreign gods?
    – Malka S
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 8:57
  • @MahaliaSamuels As far as I know, those are both part of the same prohibition (though things like creating an idol and worshiping an idol are different prohibitions)
    – b a
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 14:15
  • All very informative, but the OP asked if there are examples "in the Hebrew Bible". None of these sources are making clear citations from the Bible (Tanach). Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 13:49
  • @YaacovDeane You're right that it doesn't directly address the question
    – b a
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:39

There are levels in our connection with Hashem.

The prophets during all ages acted as such. Though - all of Israel are encouraged to reach that level (of prophecy) themselves. Still, when Hashem wanted to say something, it was through prophets. In the Torah we find it the other way too - Am Yisrael asks Moshe to speak to Hashem for them.

There is an example of a non-prophet speaking directly to Hashem. In Shmuel, however, we see Channa praying - speaking to Hashem herself. Still, her answer came from Eli - a prophet, not directly to her.

Kohanim as well, were assigned to the work in the mikdash. Holy work bringing us closer to Hashem - but only a kohen could be the one who brings a sacrifice to the mizbeach.

And, of course, the kohen gadol is the only one who can do the Yom Kippur avoda for us.

  • Hanna's answer came from Eli? Eli spoke to her, and subsequently blessed her, but her "answer" came when she fell pregnant. I don't think he was responsible for that!
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 1:59
  • He said יתן ה' את שילתך which chazal say was a prophecy that her wish would come true.
    – JNF
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 6:00
  • @JNF You should give a few actual quotes and citations from Tanach to support your statements. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 13:51

In Book I Chapter 14 of Sefer HaIkarim R. Joseph Albo explains that (contra Maimonides) not praying to anyone or anything other than God is not to be counted as a fundamental or derivative principle of the religion precisely because there are specific verses in the Bible that forbid it:

The truth of the matter is that none of the commandments of the Torah should be regarded as principles, fundamental or derived. It follows from this that the duty to worship God alone, which is in Maimonides’ list, should not be counted as a principle, primary or secondary, for it is a specific command: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness... thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them;...”

(Husik translation Vol. I p. 124-125, my emphasis)

Indeed, Maimonides explicitly states (Commentary to Mishnah, Introduction to Sanhedrin Chapter 10) that praying to an intermediary is linked to idolatry:

וכן אין ראוי לעבדם כדי להיותם אמצעים לקרבם אליו אלא אליו בלבד יכוונו המחשבות ויניחו כל מה שזולתו וזה היסוד החמישי הוא שהזהיר על ע"ז ורוב התורה מזהרת עליו

And similarly it is improper to serve them in order for them to be intermediaries to bring them closer to Him. Rather, to Him alone they should direct their thoughts, and they should leave aside everything other than Him. This is the fifth principle, which warns against idolatry, and the majority of the Torah warns against it.

  • Nothing in your answer is answering the actual question. MalkaS wants examples from the Tanach pertaining to an intermediator. Having a different G-d, or multiple G-ds is not the same thing as having/using an intermediator. An intermediator is not G-d. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 13:55
  • @YaacovDeane Am I misunderstanding the sources I quoted? It sounds like they're saying that an intermediary is subsumed under idolatry.
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 1:03
  • Is Moshe Rabbeinu an intermediator between the rest of the Jewish nation and G-d? Consider closely all the details at Har Sinai and the giving of the Torah. That will make clear that this subject has much more going on. This reference is from Torat Moshe which is the ultimate authority. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 1:13
  • @YaacovDeane Are you disagreeing with the premise that intermediaries are forbidden, or are you disagreeing with my answer?
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 1:33
  • The sources you reference are about not having other G-ds or serving other G-ds, or serving idols. That last point is associated with Mordechai & Haman too. So too there, is a whole discussion of bowing to others & how this relates to idol worship. Yet a Jew bowing to a Jewish Monarch is not a problem. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 1:46

This verse from Iyov may answer the question directly:

Job 9:33 –

Judaica Press: "There is no arbiter between us, who will place his hand on both of us."

Sefaria: "No arbiter is between us To lay his hand on us both."

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .