The rabbi of the Western Wall on Monday filed a police complaint about an Internet auction site selling stones from the holy site. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz also warned that anyone buying the stones from eBay would receive a curse, not a blessing.
The stones are being offered for $4.99 each, or $9.95 if shipped outside the United States. The seller says the stones were not taken from the Western Wall itself, but merely picked up on the Western Wall Plaza. They are billed as being one square inch in size, and the deal includes an "elegant" box in which to store them.
While the seller doesn't claim that the stones have any special power, he does term them "blessed."
In a statement issued by his office on Monday, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said he had learned of the offer after being contacted by overseas Jews, who saw the page and considered it a desecration of a sacred object. He therefore contacted eBay and asked them to remove the page.
Selling stones from the Wall is forbidden by the Torah, because it violates the religious prohibition against me'ilah, or misusing sacred things, Rabinowitz said.
"Even if they are merely stones from the area around the Wall that were taken without permission, this constitutes fraud, [by implying] that they have some kind of merit and blessing, which isn't the case! There's a curse in this," Rabinowitz wrote.
He quoted a story told by Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein, whose father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, is the spiritual leader of Israel's Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community. Zilberstein related how a certain woman fell ill, and her husband believed that placing a small stone from the Western Wall under her head would make her better. Instead, the minute he placed the stone under her head, she died.
But aside from being religiously prohibited and risking a curse, Rabinowitz wrote, the sale of the stones violates the Antiquities Law - hence his complaint to the police.
As of last night, however, the stones were still up for sale on eBay.
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