Are there any examples in the Jewish history of Jewish people falling into worshiping the dead saints and prophets in their tombs ?

Also, does building Tomb and concrete structures over the graves of prophets and saints open a door to idol worship, Shituf, or Avodah Zarah? Have past or current Jewish people have fallen into this trap?

There is a pointer to this fact in many Muslim narratives like this one:

"Beware of those who preceded you(Jews and Christians) and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that." [Sahih Muslim 1:1083]

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    Ali, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for this interesting question! I hope you'll look around the site and find other things that interesting you, perhaps including our 60 other questions about avodah-zarah (idol worship).
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 8, 2013 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


Jews often pray at the graves of righteous people. One popular site, for example, is Me'aras HaMachpelah, the biblical grave of many of the forefathers. It seems that Muslims also pray there, though perhaps don't use the place as a mosque.

However, praying to a person is absolutely forbidden as much as idolatry. If there are any historical accounts of a Jew doing so, they are of a transgressor. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (128:13) makes this clear:

On the day preceding Rosh HaShanah, after the prayer of Shacharis, it is the practice to go to a cemetery to walk around the graves of righteous people. And we give charity to poor people, and we increase requests in order to awaken the holy righteous people who are in the decomposed earth to request good for us on the day of judgment. And also because it is the place of the burial of righteous people, the place is holy and pure, and the prayer is accepted there more [readily], since it is on holy ground. And the blessed holy one will do kindness in the merit of the righteous people.

However, he should not face the corpses who dwell there [in prayer], because the matter is close to being in the category of (Devarim 18:11) "And someone who seeks the dead." Rather, he should request from the blessed G-d that He have mercy on him in the merit of the righteous people, the dwellers of the dust.

  • please add information about any transgressors doing that
    – knowit
    Feb 14, 2013 at 14:50
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    @Ali I said that if there are any accounts, it was a transgressor. Off the top of my head I can recall of no incident, and I doubt that such a minor thing would be recorded.
    – b a
    Feb 15, 2013 at 1:12
  • "is close to being" is not the same as actually being. This idea of calling it close to Doresh al hameisim dates back to the early achronim (Maharshal, Drisha and Bach) in the name of Chaim Paltiel.
    – user6591
    Sep 17, 2015 at 15:49

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