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When one wants to visit the Ohel, the Lubavitcher Rebbes' grave, one is asked to take off his shoes. Halachically, one does not take one's shoes when visiting many other holy sites, e.g. the Kotel. Is this practice Mutar, or is it better not to visit the Ohel?

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    We do take off shoes when at the only site on earth with inherent holiness: Har Habayit. (Ok maybe the whole land of Israel has some holiness too) – Double AA Mar 22 '17 at 18:00
  • You don't go in there barefoot; you wear non-leather shoes. I believe this is as a sign of mourning but I'm not sure. – SAH Mar 22 '17 at 18:40
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    "Is this practice Mutar, or is it better not to visit the Ohel?" Are those mutually exclusive? – Double AA Mar 23 '17 at 13:01
  • I do want to point out that the Kosel area were we stand isn't Holy (or at least, no more holy than the rest of the Old City). – Shmuel Brin Mar 30 '17 at 1:37
  • Can you cite a reason why it wouldn't be Muttar? – Shmuel Brin Mar 30 '17 at 1:38
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R' Moshe Dovber Rivkin[1] wrote:

דאדרבא מקום קברי צדיקי נחשב למקום קדוש, וכמ"ש המהרי"ל "דמקום מנוחת הצדיקים הוא מקום קדוש וטהור והתפלה מתקבלת יותר" הביאו הבה"ט בססי׳ תקפ״א.)ובוודאי מטע"ז נוהגיס הרבה בעת השתטחות על קברי צדיקים לחלוץ הנעלים כשנגשים אל הציון

The burial place of the righteous is (as the Maharil writes) "holy and pure, where prayers are accepted". That's why many, when going to prostrate themselves on the graves of the righteous, take off their shoes when they approach the grave.

The Nitei Gavriel also writes that this was the custom of R' Yisrael of Sadigora (the grandson of the Ruzhiner) and Chernobyl.

[1] : One of the Chossidim of the Rebbe Rashab (the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) and the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, and one of the Roshei Yeshiva of Torah VaDaas)

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    What is meant by when it says you can prostrate on the graves of the righteous? Is this really Mutar? – anonymous May 24 '17 at 15:45
  • The language comes from the custom of the Arizal to lie down on the graves of Tzaddikim and performing spiritual unifications. Most don't do that nowadays anymore. – Shmuel Brin May 24 '17 at 16:52
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It is muter. There is no reason to suspect this would not be allowed according to halacha anymore than removing another inconsequential article of clothing like a pair of gloves or a hat. It is also not obligatory and is only relevant to those who wish to do so. Furthermore, even for those who wish to do so don't go barefoot when they have non leather shoes available to them. When it isn't very crowded there are crocs available for those who wish to change into non leather shoes.

In regards to those who would attempt to insinuate that this is somehow forbidden or otherwise connected to idol worshiping practices you should take a hard look at yourself and ask, "why do I feel the need to put down other frum Jews for no reason"? There are shivim panim laTorah and the derech of chabad is no less valid than any other derech. In fact just as during the generation of the baal shem tov who brought back many from the brink of despair which was a result of the terrible persecution, religious despair from false messiahs, and isolation from the Jewish community today chabad continues this mission uplifting the souls of Jewish people everywhere from the isolation of galus for those who are tinuk shenishba as well as every segment of Jewry because of the importance of loving one's fellow Jew.

The source and reason for doing so is learned from when Hashem tells Moshe Rabenu to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground and from when after Yehoshua has the Jewish people circumcised and speaks to an angel he is told to remove his shoes. However, one is still not required to be barefoot and most visitors wear non-leather shoes instead of going in barefoot. Wearing non-leather shoes is a sign of humility when praying in a holy place.

Chabad.org has a nice article about this, with sources in footnotes.

  • Why must every critique be based in a desire to put down other frum Jews for no reason? Maybe the practices of those other Jews are actually problematic or troubling. Taking critique is surely harder than giving it, but we must be open to it and take it seriously if we are to improve. No "Derech" (as you say) is immune from faults. – Double AA Nov 16 '17 at 13:43
  • (I'm not saying it is forbidden. I also am not saying that only things which are outright forbidden can be meaningfully critiqued. It might be in this case that the concerns people might have raised end up being answered, but even then raising them need not have been based in a desire to put down other frum Jews for no reason.) – Double AA Nov 16 '17 at 13:44

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