The situation a person is in, is the best situation God wants you to be in. By going to a rabbi to get a blessing to change your situation, you might be neglecting this fact.

With that being the case, why is it so common to go to big rabbis to get blessings and are there any possible issues with it?

Also, if God has placed you in the best circumstances for your particular mission in life, how can a rabbi's blessing have any effect--no matter how great he is?

This question could be generalized to why do we pray to change our circumstance, but it's already brought down in various Judaic texts, including the Torah, that god desires to hear the prayer of his people, among other reasons such as working on ourselves through prayer and meditation.

  • What does a "[big] rabbi" have to do with it? – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 16:56
  • Based on your last paragraph, would examples of blessings in the Torah obviate your concerns? I can think of many of those. Consider the eponymously named Parsha "[Vezot Ha]Bracha". – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 16:56
  • Based on only the second sentence, it would seem that prayer is superfluous. Even with the last sentence taken into consideration, it would seem that our prayers have no real effect, and are, therefore, superfluous, other than Shevah, Hodaah, and perhaps Shomea' Tefillah. CC @DoubleAA – Seth J Sep 15 '14 at 17:36
  • @SethJ So what? – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 17:44
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    Your question isn't really about blessings from rabbis so much as predetermination. – Seth J Sep 15 '14 at 18:22

In terms of praying to get out of a certain situation, the Nefesh Hachaim addresses this question in Sha'ar Bet, Perek Yud Aleph (Translation from The Soul of Life)

For in truth, we would wonder how it could be appropriate to plead in any way from Him (blessed be His name) to relieve him of his suffering and torments. As with the healing of the body, if the physician administers powerful drugs, or if the physician must completely amputate a limb, would the patient plead to him that he shouldn't administer the drugs or amputate the limb? Lo, the patient himself has hired him for that reason; thusly, how can he pour out his heart/mind before him (blessed be His name) to remove from upon him the torments, for aren't they the bandage and the life-preserving drug to atone for his sins? And the sage (OBM) stated (Shabbos 58a): "There are no torments without sin", for if it weren't so, how, using what method, could the sinning Nefesh achieve atonement.

(Paragraph Later)

As so too the individual, regarding his own suffering, even if there is no desecration of the name in the matter, there is an opening to supplicate Him regarding the large amount of supernal suffering that occurs when a person merits suffering in the lower world.."

When we go to a Rabbi for a Bracha about a particular situation, we are asking him to add his additional supplication for Hashem about supernal suffering. This is clearly not heresy, as asking Hashem for help about supernal suffering is completely allowed.

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So when Ya'akov Avinu came to receive his blessing from his father Yitzhak Avinu, were they transgressing the Torah, G-d forbid? I don't think so.

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    He was lying and cheating and stealing at the time. – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 17:23
  • @DoubleAA, that doesn't address Yitzchak's desire to give them. – Yishai Sep 15 '14 at 17:37
  • Was Yaakov even going to change his situation? – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 17:43
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    This doesn't really answer the question "how can a rabbi's blessing have any effect?" – Double AA Sep 15 '14 at 17:43
  • @DoubleAA but it does seem to answer how it is allowed, with the OP's assumption that prayer is OK because it is in the Torah. – Y     e     z Sep 15 '14 at 18:37

An example can be the fact that the Torah commands a sick person to go to the doctor (Rapo Yerapei). That is if someone causes damage to a person, the damager is required to arrange for his healing. In all cases, we say that a person must perform histadlus (attempt to act) knowing that the success or failure of the action is up to Hashem. Similarly, getting a bracha from a tzadik is hishtadlus.

Perhaps the decree was that a bad thing would happen unless Hashem received an adequate prayer. Similarly, we are allowed (many say required) to purchase insurance rather than not do anything and "rely on Hashem".

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