Pidyon Nefesh by Rabbi Shalom Arush
Pidyon Nefesh is a very special and powerful prayer and blessing that has the spiritual strength of a sacrifice in the Holy Temple to atone for sin and to mitigate severe judgments. The bigger and more pious the tzaddik, the more effective the “pidyon”, which literally means “redemption”, where one’s money is literally a sacrifice for one’s body and soul. The pidyon money “redeems” the nefesh, or soul, in other words, “Pidyon Nefesh.” This is used when a major salvation is needed, such as in the case of a dangerous illness, a severe court case, or as a rescue from trouble or danger. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that Pidyon Nefesh is the “sweetening”, or mitigation of harsh decrees and serves as a salvation from any trouble, for the main cure and solution of sickness is the pidyon (see Likutei Moharan II:3).
The money becomes an exchange for the life of the person, since money and the nefesh are one aspect. The amount should be meaningful for the person – Rebbe Nachman was very strong not to be stingy with a pidyon. Here is a story to illustrate this idea:
Rabbi Natan of Breslev’s wife kept having miscarriages in the ninth month. Rebbe Nachman said, “For this, you need a pidyon.” Rabbi Natan arranged to donate 6 chairs to Rebbe Nachman. He ended up having 6 children. He said, “If only I had known, I would have donated 12 chairs…”
For a Pidyon to be especially effective, one should give with dedication. One cannot hope for a major salvation without giving to the limits of one’s capability. You must give something that is significant for you. It could be that someone’s $180 pidyon means more than someone else’s $1,800 pidyon! Just as in the Holy Temple, where the sacrifices went according to one’s wealth – someone with less means gave a dove, with average means a sheep or goat, and a rich man gave an ox. If the rich man tries to get away with giving a dove, in reality he did nothing – G-d knows the truth.
Moreover, the amount of the pidyon should match the need. For smaller issues $180 might suffice, but someone with an untreatable illness or other serious situation should give much more than that. For serious situations, Rabbanit Arush, tichya, recommends a minimum $1,000 pidyon, in 12 installments (enter $84 as the pidyon amount, then select Recurring Donation for 12 months). Feel free to use the installments in order to make it easier for you to give the pidyon you really need.
Remember, none of the money is kept by Rabbi Arush, Shlita – it goes right into spreading emuna, so that merit of giving charity stands for you as well! For that reason, you can use maaser money for the pidyon. Really, a pidyon is a favor done by the tzaddikim in order to help people. The one who benefits – is you!
To read miracle stories about pidyon nefesh with Rabbi Arush, click here.
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