To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mishpacha Magazine and Segulas

Just read an article in Mishpacha magazine about 'Segulas'. From the cover I thought that there would be a ballanced article, but instead it was all one sided: Quoting practitioners of all sorts of shtusim v'havalim and quackery labeled 'Kabala, segulas, etc.' What was really galling was a certain practitioner who applied Rambam's medicinal writings as well as segulas. Poor Rambam! The Rambam was the ultimate Rationalist and thought that all this stuff was nahrishkeit (and wrote so!) and his medicine was cutting edge... for his day. It was not based on Kabala or the Gemara. So the last thing tht he would want would be to follow his medicinal prescriptions as a 'chok' for all times and ignore the current thinking in modern medicine. So this fellow takes the Rambam's medicinal writings literaly and ignores his anti-segula/kamiah/superstition position. I would say that this is 'Tarti D'Sasri'.

Yidden! The Torah says "Tomim Tihiyeh Im Hashem". Don't follow quackery and shtusim in the name of 'kaballah'. The only segullah is limud HaTorah uMitzvos.

I will end with my favorite Amuka story which was related to me by one of the three guys in the story: Three fellows in their 30's who where still single where in Eretz Yisroel one summer. One suggested that they should all go to visit Amuka as a segullah. They all agreed, but the third backed out at the last moment as he had instead made plans to visit and spend time with his 'camper' from the previous summer at Camp Simcha who was Israeli. Guess which of the three became engaged that year? :) You guessed it! The one who performed an actual Mitzvah D'Oraysa of the highest caliber - "Ma Hu Mivaker Cholim, Af ata Mevaker Cholim".


  • At 11/30/2005 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Were there not Rabbis in the past who gave out segulas like Rav Yakkov Emden (or maybe it was Rav Eibshitz), and Rav Kadouri presently. There seems to be both quakery and legitmate segulas.

    The problem, which was a problem since medevil times, is that many jews wholly believe in it and consider it as authentic as the torah itself. There is not much hope in changing this situation.

  • At 12/01/2005 10:53 PM, Blogger J said…

    Actually they both gave out segullas (I believe), but Rav Y Emden suspected Rav Yonason Eibeshitz of having Shabsai Tzvi allusions in his 'Kameyas', starting the great schism in German Jewry, but that is a story for a different post.

    Rambam had no tolerance for these things. He considered them shtusim. GRA takes him to task for this, but I'll stick with the Rambam. (R' Chaim Volozhin zt'l only considered the Gra to be as great as the Rashba and possibly the Ramban... but not the Rambam:)

    I will grant you that there are many choshuv people who believe in what they are giving out (like Rav Kadouri and some in the Mishpacha article) but that does not make them right. Just the like Raavad (argues on Rambam) and says that although I agree with Rambam that those who believe hashem has a body are wrong, i don't consider them an apikorus (as the Rambam did) because pshuta shel mikra implies as such. But they are still wrong.
    Here too, I don't condem those who follow segullas as they are following great Rabbis - but they are still wrong.

  • At 12/04/2005 7:11 PM, Anonymous Der Yid said…

    i am looking for a sugulah to get rid of mice, anything good

  • At 12/05/2005 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a picture of a certain rebbe I'll try to find out the name. He said if you keep a picture of him in your house you won't have rats. I assume it also covers mice. Most seforim stores carry his picture

  • At 12/05/2005 11:44 PM, Blogger J said…

    The article in Mishpacha discussed this 'segulla' - of posting a picture of a certain pre-WWII Hungarian Rebbe - as a segulla against mice.

    Rachmana Litzlan, is this what Yidishkeit has become? "Ke He Chochmaschem U'Vinaschem Leynei HaGoyim..." We have turned into the same superstitious hocus-pocus bunch as the pagans from which Avrohom Avinu rebelled against.

  • At 12/06/2005 9:14 AM, Blogger CM said…

    The Rebbe was Reb Yeshaya Kerstira, and I believe he was the one who suggested it. My take on segulas is elu va-elu diveri chaim. If a respected godol apporves than its not hocus pocus.

  • At 12/13/2005 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In the segulos magazine there was a picture of This Rav.

  • At 12/13/2005 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a picture of this Rav in the Segulos addition.

  • At 12/20/2005 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Amuka is a bobbe maaseh, as reported in MOAG.

    Did you see the recent news from there ( ? Maybe that's the onesh for making up a phoney baloney alleged segula.
    Sheker causes a mess.

  • At 12/20/2005 11:37 PM, Blogger J said…

    What is MOAG? Please provide details.

    Check my second post on this issue
    FrumTalk: Mishpacha Magazine and Segulas, Round II where a loyal poster posted this link. I am a bit skeptical as it is so bizzare. My google search only returned one other eyewitness account of this. I am not saying that I think it is false, just that i don't fully believe it yet.

  • At 12/20/2005 11:42 PM, Blogger CM said…

    Making of A Godol. I think.

  • At 12/21/2005 1:16 PM, Blogger J said…

    You have whetted my appetite - details, details, please :)

  • At 12/21/2005 2:58 PM, Anonymous observing jew said…

    Making of a Godol, (volume I, book one, p. 688-9, in the first edition - not sure about the new edition) says that a study was made by a prominent researcher some years ago and it was discovered that belief in the powers of prayer at Amuka was non-existent until it was concocted by a tour company circa 1953-5713. It was mentioned in an article in Hatzofeh in the 1970's.

  • At 12/21/2005 8:53 PM, Blogger J said…

    Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the book. But thanks for the info! Pretty wild!

    I very much enjoyed going to Birchas Kohanim at the Kosel during Chol HaMoed Succos. Interestingly enough, the practice has an interesting source, as was told to me by a Rebbe in EY:

    It seems that a certain Mekubal found in a writing of a previous Mekuabl, that if 'x' number of Kohanim (i don't remember the number) would Duchen on Har HaZesim, then Moshiach would come. One slight problem. Har HaZeisim is full of graves! So Kohanim can't go there! No problem. Someone suggested to do it instead at the Kosel - which is even holier and is in proximity of Har HaZeisim. Well maybe thats why Moshiach has not come yet.

  • At 1/18/2006 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I went to israel in 1978 and went on a gefner tour to the north and when we got to meron some buchrim asked me if i wanted to go to amukah. as a baal tshuva i had never heard of the place. but i went and when we got there they told me that this is THE place to daven for your zivug. i did. i met my wife the next evening on a shidduch. this is a real story.

  • At 1/23/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger J said…

    I am very happy for you. A belated 'Mazal Tov'! However the reason that various superstitions and the like creep into Yahadus is because we only hear of the successes and not the failures. That was the great chidush of the modern scientific method: double-blind research. What is the statistical evidence that those who go to 'amuka' get engaged earlier? All we have are the 'success' anecdotes and not the thousands of 'failures.' To truly test, of course, we would send a controled sample to amuka and the other half of the participants would need to go to some 'fake' segullah site - this would assist in removing the 'placebo' affect - and then measure the engagements in both groups. (Of course we could increase this number in both groups by having single men and women go there on the SAME bus...:)

    Reb Yid, I believe b'emunah Sheleima, that you would have met your wife one night earlier had you NOT gone to Amuka that night, and instead would have davened to Hashem and then gone out with your wife THAT night, instead of the next night.

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  • At 7/11/2011 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I never cease to be amazed at rationalists who claim Rambam as their source, when from their comments it is clear that they have never seen what Rambam himself writes. This dicussion is an example: In Moreh HaNevuchim, where Rambam discusses the subject of segullos, he writes explicitly that if they work, they may be used, even to the extent of wearing them in the street on Shabbos, using the example of Galen's use of Peonia to cure epilepsy. He devoted a whole chapter to the subject in Pirke Mosheh. The Rashba explains the concept of segulla as something that works naturally but which we do not understand how - sounds like asprin until a few years ago ;).
    Why don't you guys just come clean and admit where your rationalism is really coming from and leave Rambam alone?


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