August 17, 2010 1:36 am at 1:36 am #592173
What is the difference between Segulos and superstitions? I’m talking about the way people do them nowadays, like if I do 40 days at the kotel then, what I wish for is going to happen. Why is that any different than a baseball player doing his little ritual before going up to bat? (And these are just examples.)
It seems to me that the thinking is the same.August 17, 2010 2:38 am at 2:38 am #1204129
for one a superstition is saying this thing is making it happen
where as opposed to going to the kosel for instance you want Hashem to listen to your tefillos and the best place to do it is at the kosel b/c Hashem has more rachamim for people that daven there. Im guessing the 40 days is b/c moshe rabbeinu davened for 40 days and was answered
this is my humble opinionAugust 17, 2010 3:27 am at 3:27 am #1204130sof davar hakol nishmaMember
the forty day thing is a real segula. (i forgot who says it and why) the problem lies in the fact that people start trusting in the segulos more than Hashem!, more than simple tefilla itself!August 17, 2010 4:22 pm at 4:22 pm #1204131bptParticipant
Its a superstition until it works.. then it becomes a segulah!
Seriouly, segulos have a m’kor (oral or written) rooted in yiddishket. Superstitions come from the secular world.
To the secular world, our segulos are superstitions and vice versa.
My take? Segulas coupled with tefillah yield results.August 17, 2010 4:34 pm at 4:34 pm #1204132ramateshkolianMember
I heard that rav shlomo zalman said that certain groups should not do tashlich because they attribute so much power to it and don’t bother doing teshuva. It’s the same with segulos- when they come AFTER and are SECONDARY to teshuva and tefilla and real avodas Hashem, they are ok. But nowadays, segulos have become the Jewish version of a ‘fast-food’ lifestyle.August 17, 2010 5:12 pm at 5:12 pm #1204133
as rumpelstiltskin said, segulos should not take the place of Tefillah and Tshuva.
But there is a spiritual, non-physical world in which we live along with the visible physical one. it has properties and “laws” just like the physical one. (explained well in the Ramchal’s “Derech Hashem”) we dont see it consciously but the Chochomim do. much of the segulos come from practices they did in concordance with that knowledge. this is the root of the idea of segulos. but were all mixed up today and often cant tell a segula founded in reality from one that may not be.August 17, 2010 5:16 pm at 5:16 pm #1204134
Who? The guy who spins straw into gold? (Hey, maybe there’s a segulah there! 🙂 )
this is the root of the idea of segulos. but were all mixed up today and often cant tell a segula founded in reality from one that may not be.
Fair enough… but I’ve always been of the firm belief that tefillah is the strongest “segulah” of all. Davening for parnassah is worth far more (IMHO) than saying Perek HaMon at the “right” time or any other segulah that’s out there.
But then again, I’m as dumb as a pile of bricks, so what do I know?
The WolfAugust 17, 2010 5:31 pm at 5:31 pm #1204135
from Rabbi Twerskis ten steps book:
“To paraphrase the Chofetz Chaim: Just as one may not denigrate another person, one may not denigrate oneself…self denigration is not anivus (humility). Anivus is self-effacement, which is a commendable trait; self denigration is not.”August 17, 2010 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm #1204136
Anivus is self-effacement, which is a commendable trait; self denigration is not.
I never claimed to be an Anav. I do claim, however, to be one who speaks the truth. That’s one of the few positive character traits that I have.
The WolfAugust 17, 2010 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm #1204137
“To paraphrase the Chofetz Chaim: Just as one may not denigrate another person, one may not denigrate oneself…self denigration is not anivus (humility). Anivus is self-effacement, which is a commendable trait; self denigration is not.” where is this quote from the Chofetz Chaim Ive always heard the story about the Chofetz Chaim dengrating himself on a train and someone slapped him and he said one can’t say lashon hara about himself but then i heard someone say that his grandaughter said that story isn’t true
so i want a sourceAugust 17, 2010 5:43 pm at 5:43 pm #1204138Baruch-1Participant
As with many areas of halacha and hashkafa, there are 2 major schools of thought – the rationalists (Rambam, RaSaG etc…) and the mystics (Chassidishe Rebbes and Ari type kabbalists). It seems that the major machlokes between R’ Yonason Eyebshitz and the R’ Yakov Emden may also relate to the above issue. I certainly could not make an assertive claim that one approach is more valid than the however…
However, I agree with the premise of the original question that many people (even within the ‘mystical’ approach) have gone way too far and I think it’s simply because SEGULOS ARE EASY. Think about it, if you are having a serious family issue, one rav tells you to improve upon your behavior and actually change your middos vs. another rav who says just say a certain kfitel tehillim and wear a red string – which would you choose???August 17, 2010 5:50 pm at 5:50 pm #1204139
i want a source
ask Rabbi Twerski
i heard someone say that his grandaughter said that story isn’t true
i want a sourceAugust 17, 2010 5:53 pm at 5:53 pm #1204140
I never claimed to be an Anav. I do claim, however, to be one who speaks the truth. That’s one of the few positive character traits that I have.
lashon hara is usually (always?) the truth. that doesnt make it positiveAugust 17, 2010 5:59 pm at 5:59 pm #1204141
lashon hara is usually (always?) the truth. that doesnt make it positive
I’m not sure I agree with your premise, but that’s neither here nor there. I don’t want to hijack the thread… let’s keep it on the topic of segulos and superstitions.
The WolfAugust 17, 2010 6:07 pm at 6:07 pm #1204142
I’m not sure I agree with your premise
negative or harmful TRUE statements are the very definition of lashon hara. there is no premise. you will find that on page one of any sefer of lashon hara. ask someone.
let’s keep it on the topic of segulos and superstitions.
exactly, lets dispense with the uneccessary comments about oneself, or at least try to limit yourself to say one a week.August 17, 2010 6:08 pm at 6:08 pm #1204143
or at least try to limit yourself to say one a week.
Some days and weeks are better than others.
The WolfAugust 17, 2010 6:10 pm at 6:10 pm #1204144
just keep it to yourself as much as possibleAugust 17, 2010 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #1204145
fine R. Moderator i can’t fond a source, you win!
but isn’t it strange that the chofetz chaim didn’t put it in his sefer (he did multiple reprintings, i know, of the mishnah brurah granted it’s not shmiras halashon) usually one would learn halachos from a sefer on halacha not a maasehAugust 17, 2010 6:23 pm at 6:23 pm #1204146
yeah R. moderator how did you change this to saying lashon hara about yourself wouldn’t this go under the LASHON HARA READ AT YOUR OWN RISK postAugust 17, 2010 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #1204147
i dont know if its true or not, i just dont think one should go about demanding a source of every maaseh one hears.
certainly one should learn Halachah from a sefer and not from a maaseh. (although middos and derech eretz are a different story, of course)
i didnt realize that that was NOT a Halachah. i thought the maaseh was just an illustration of the Halachah. i assumed it was a Halachah because ive heard it said many times (as a Halachah, not just a maaseh) (just said stam not authoritatively)
thank you for pointing that outAugust 17, 2010 6:40 pm at 6:40 pm #1204148theprof1Participant
What people generally forget is the origin of segulos and simonim. The main point of tefilah is not the actual act of prayer. It’s the making yourself ready to pray, the work that goes into bringing you to the point of prayer, and then the aftermath of the prayer session. This is the concept of becoming an oved Hashem, of serving Hashem. The idea of making Hashem’s rotzon as your rotzon. Then when you have a rotzon, Hashem gives it to you. Pirkei Ovos. A seguloh was doing something that showed openly your desire to do something that would make Hashem kaviyochol “happy” with what you did. And the seguloh was similar to the idea of what you wanted to accomplish. The seguloh worked because you exhibited clear intention to be an oved Hashem with the act of doing or having the seguloh. That avdus is what made the seguloh work. If not, if you just do segulohs, then you’re in the rut of “mi bikeish zohs miyedchem ramos chatzerei”. Your olos and korbonos are too much for G-d to tolerate.August 17, 2010 6:54 pm at 6:54 pm #1204149
I’m not demanding sources for maasehs i’m demanding sources for halacha
“To paraphrase the Chofetz Chaim: Just as one may not denigrate another person, one may not denigrate oneself”
sounds like a halacha to meAugust 17, 2010 8:02 pm at 8:02 pm #1204150
i agree with youAugust 17, 2010 9:55 pm at 9:55 pm #1204152popa_bar_abbaParticipant
So I had this post on a different thread (which I hijacked) several months ago regarding this topic. I decided to let this thread run for a while before I linked it. I’m glad I waited, because I’m afraid it may have polarized the debate.
It’s the fifth comment:August 17, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm #1204153
My problem with segulos and the like is that if you try to test them, somebody will label you an apikorus. For instance if there are 100 people looking for shidduchim, the way to test is to have 50 do segula X and the other 50 not. Then you compare success rates of each group.
It is interesting that the Rambam says we absolutely should test neviim by making them do a number of osos and mofsim before we believe their prophecy. Otherwise anybody can claim to be a navi. However, if you suggest this for segulos, people will quite rapidly get angry at you.August 17, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm #1204154
there may be one or two other variables you would have to control for.;-)
perhaps if you did your experiment with a few thousand cases the other variables would statistically average out for the most part, assuming you understood the protocols and the great problems involved in such a population with a huge number of unknown and ill-defined relevant variables.
not sure of the relevance of testing neveim to testing segulos.
but im not angry at you
not sure why you would do something that makes others angry at you
must be very important to you.August 17, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm #1204155
Hi Mod-80, you are very perceptive. The truth is that I became very disillusioned with segulos and all types of superstitions recently. The crazy mayseh of the supposed dibbuk of the past year really upset me. How can we Jews become laughingstocks for the whole world–on video yet.
You see, I have nonreligious relatives who seize on this to make hilarious fun of religious Jews. We are supposed to be an Am chacham vnavon. I hate having to defend behavior which I can’t. Don’t people realize how weird this stuff looks like to the outside world?
Finally, I believe that the RBSH rules the world, period. I do not understand what role could be played by sheidim, for example. If ploni is righteous, then Hashem will treat him well. If not, then he may get in trouble CV. However, how will his plight be affected by a sheid for good or for bad?
Same with keshafim. While there are mekoros in sefarim that seem to indicate this may be black magic or magical powers, how can anybody verify this. Do we have anybody today who understands how to do it? If so, please let them give a demo that we can all see. I am very skeptical that this ever existed, so I choose to be a rationalist like the Rambam, unless somebody will conclusively prove to me otherwise.
I know this is difficult from a number of gemaras. For instance in Bava Basra, it tells of a non-Jewish woman who could turn water into a bowlful of scorpions. However, I believe the Rambam would not take this literally.
The whole topic is fascinating, though.August 17, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm #1204156
Actually, I think the scorpions may be in Sanhedrin, instead, near the Mishna about Ov and Yidoni and so on. It is interesting that the Rambam says that these things were just sleight of hand done to fool people into thinking that other religions were magical and to get people to worship Avoda Zara. He holds they were all illusions, and there is no such thing as real black magic.August 18, 2010 12:43 am at 12:43 am #1204157
segulos have some source because EVERYONE has a minhag to do simanim on rosh hashanaAugust 18, 2010 1:07 am at 1:07 am #1204158
But there must be something about Segulos, if they’re brought down by different Gedolim.
If you go with the premise that HKBH runs the world and we should just daven to Him, then why would doing a Segula help? Even if one has the right thoughts, which isn’t always.
And then if one has the right thoughts by a superstition, that doing whatever helps but really Hashem is the one that makes this happen, or whatever, it’s then a segula.
(Sorry if its confusing, I’m a little confused)August 18, 2010 1:47 am at 1:47 am #1204159i love coffeParticipant
Sefardim have the whole “superstitious” thing with the hamsa and the eye to ward of any ayin hara.
I’ve also heard that people who dont believe in this dont have to worry about getting any ayin hara. How does that work?August 18, 2010 2:33 am at 2:33 am #1204160
Yeah, we know this woman whose Sefardi and although she’s not that religious, even when she was totally secular she had the whole hamsa and evil eye. She even sewed put the eye on a pin and pinned it on her daughters clothes. 🙂
My friend said that ayin hara doesn’t work for her family since they don’t believe in it. But isn’t it a real thing? And if someone doesn’t believe in it, then could I just say right now I don’t believe in it and it can’t harm me? 🙂August 18, 2010 3:28 am at 3:28 am #1204161Josh31Participant
Some La-chashes work better than others:
The old standby is “Makpid Gamur” to be put on items left in a cafeteria to prevent them from mysteriously disappearing.
“Chalav Akum” works better.August 18, 2010 4:31 am at 4:31 am #1204162msseekerMember
I think it was Munkacher Rov (or Shinover) who said, “The best segulah is ?????? ?? ?????.”August 18, 2010 4:34 am at 4:34 am #12041632qwertyParticipant
Sometimes just reading the words of a prayer may not be enough. Hashem wants us to change through our prayers and segulos help us with it. Whichever way it happens but once we change then the decrees against us may change. When you go to a kever of a tzadik to pray somehow your kavonos may be a bit stronger. Because by doing something extra (something you dont usually do) you feel like your prayers will be more likely heard and answered so you concentrate on them better.
So i think segulos are needed for some of us to fool ourselves into praying with more attention. And once we do that enough times im sure we will change and our mazal will change with us.
(I think people can make up their own segulos as long as it leads you to pray better and to grow spiritually then it should work. However, it is obviously better to follow our tradition and only use the segulos that were passed over to us.)August 18, 2010 1:31 pm at 1:31 pm #1204164
there are two gemaras that i know off the top of my head dealing with it 1 is the gemara in berachos that says if someones worried about ayin hara he should say i’m a descendant of yosef hatzadik which ayin hara has no power over (says as a general statement even though might not be a descendant)
the second gemara i’m just learning in bava basra that one neighbor can force the other neighbor to help him build a wall between their two properties b/c he’s afraid of hezek ayin which some meforshim say is maaris ayin (others say it means wants privacy)August 18, 2010 2:00 pm at 2:00 pm #1204165mw13Participant
Pashuteh Yid – “Finally, I believe that the RBSH rules the world, period. I do not understand what role could be played by sheidim, for example. If ploni is righteous, then Hashem will treat him well. If not, then he may get in trouble CV. However, how will his plight be affected by a sheid for good or for bad?”
Very simple – the Sheidim would be an instrument of punishment in the hands of Hashem, just like health/parnasseh problems and every other type of misfortune are.
Sister Bear – “But there must be something about Segulos, if they’re brought down by different Gedolim.”
Segulos are real, as Mod-80 explained. However, that may only be the case if one has the right intentions, which is probably rarely the case these days. And either way, segulos were meant to support tefillah, teshuva, and tzdakah, not to replace them.August 18, 2010 2:33 pm at 2:33 pm #1204166theprof1Participant
Mbachur the minhag of simonim on rosh hoshono has a very strong source. The gemora in mesechta krisus and in horiyos brings down “abaye who says, now that we know that simonim have a meaning, a person should always eat the head of a lamb etc.” all the simonim that we use now. So our rosh hashono simonim have a very clear source. and although today these are just about halocho, its clear from the gemoroh that abaye was just giving us a suggestion.August 18, 2010 2:55 pm at 2:55 pm #1204167
MW13, it is not so simple, since the bottom line is what would the sheid do? Give someone a potch? Take away his parnasa? What is the sheid doing that the RBSH is not doing directly.
In other words, what does the sheid add to the old concept of schar vaonesh? If somebody falls into a pit, why say it was some putative sheid that pushed him there. Why not say Hashem caused him to trip? Is there any way to detect the presence of a sheid? If not, can they add any info to our understanding of our world? Give me a hechi timtza where something happens that could only be explained by the existence of a sheid. I.e., an occurrence where clearly Hashem decided to operate via a sheid, rather than through nature.
For example, somebody chas vshalom loses his job. We generally say, Hashem made the boss decide to fire him or lay him off because business was bad and he could no longer afford to pay his salary. Is there anything to be gained by saying, Hashem told a sheid to transmit a message to the boss to lay him off. What has this second scenario added to our understanding of the situation, and how would one distinguish between the two possibilities? If one cannot, then do sheidim really exist? What is the operative definition of a sheid?August 18, 2010 3:02 pm at 3:02 pm #1204168
From the site Everything2 dot com:
(science, philosophy of science:) An operative definition is a definition of a concept which explains how it may be observed rather than what it is. Colloquially, an operative definition tells you “how to know it when you see it”.August 18, 2010 3:36 pm at 3:36 pm #1204169
simanim are basically segulos with a source, then.August 18, 2010 5:34 pm at 5:34 pm #1204171mw13Participant
Pashuteh Yid: Based on the Gemoros that deal with sheidim, I always assumed that sheidim are clearly visible, and tend to attack physically (like an animal).August 18, 2010 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm #1204172
sdim are between a human and a malach in terms of their physicality
they can be seen but only by those who are capable of seeing them (probably no one today, i suspect)
i believe they do their work primarily physically.August 18, 2010 5:45 pm at 5:45 pm #1204173
If not, can they add any info to our understanding of our world?
who said their existence can be explained only on the basis of whether or not they add to our understanding?
Hashem works in many complex ways and through a complex spiritual and physical system of many intermediaries (see Derech Hashem)
every blade of grass has a malach associated with it. millions of malachim sing Shira every day. does this enhance our understanding of the world?
i dont know why there are sdim, but i have no intention of disbelieving the Gemorah and Midrashim, and Seforim because i dont think it makes senseAugust 18, 2010 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #1204174
Mod-80, I guess what I am trying to say is that if we can’t detect them, then of what use is saying they exist? For all practical purposes, then, they don’t exist. I mean will you ever get into a situation where it is critical to know that there is a sheid up ahead, and you must take evasive or protective action.
A mashal is the ether. At first scientists believed that light required a medium and that the speed of light was with respect to this fixed ether. After a number of experiments it turned out that the ether could not be detected and that the speed of light did not depend on any fixed frame. So scientists said that ether does not exist. They did not say that it exists but is undetectable and plays no role. Might as well say it doesn’t exist. Easier to work with. Of course if some future experiment shows that light does require some medium (like sound requires air), they will say that it does exist. (But presumably they will require an experiment in which light in one situation cannot propagate, but in the identical situation, only with the addition of ether it can. And there would be some independent way to ascertain that there was no ether in the first, but there was ether present in the second as confirmed by XYZ brand ether-detecting compound.)
As far as the gemaras go, one can say they are not meant literally, but are meshalim for some deeper concepts. I mean is one of the 13 ikkarei emuna to believe in sheidim.
I will note though that in Acahrei Mos on the Sair Lazazel, the Ramban goes into a whole arichus that we bring a korbon on behlaf of a sheid, or something along those lines. He says that those who follow the wicked Greek (Aristotle, probably) who don’t believe in anything they cannot see are arrogant. I wonder if he means that Aristotle was known to be a wicked man for specific sins. I mean if he says that Aristotle was wicked because he didn’t want to believe in what he could not see, I fail to see why that makes him wicked. Don’t we say Ein lo ldayan ella mah sh’einav ro’os? Can you blame somebody for not wanting to accept superstition without proof of its existence?
On the ein lo ldayan topic, imagine if 2 witnesses said we saw Reuven raise his arm with a knife and plunge it into Shimon. But Reuven says, it wasn’t me, a sheid killed him before the knife entered. Or he says a sheid pushed my hand with the knife into Shimon, but the witnesses were not on the madreiga to see the sheid. Would he be patur?August 18, 2010 6:56 pm at 6:56 pm #1204175
Mod-80, I guess what I am trying to say is that if we can’t detect them, then of what use is saying they exist?
i understood clearly what you were trying to say
can you detect malachim?
does that mean we should say sdim dont exist because there is no use in saying they exist? of what use is it to say they exist? i dont know, of what use is it to say that melachim exist? i dont know. but they do.
your point is, *so they exist, but that information doesnt help us practically.* so, lots of information doesnt help us practically.
why did the Ramchal devote years of his life to writing Derech Hashem? there is almost nothing there that is of practical use. its a description of the way Hashem runs the world, behind the scenes.
not everything, especially knowledge of how Hashem does things needs to have a clear and practical use.
clearly you dont want to believe in sdim because they dont fit with your deep and vast knowledge of the essential nature of the universe and Hashems conduct of it.
there is no reason to say that sdim are only a mashul. mention of sdim is found all over Shas. the Gemora always has a pashut pshat. this is not a Medresh. only a very big Talmid Chochum with a deep Daas Torah and wide knowledge of Meforshim can say that something in the Gemorrah is only a mashul
you dont have to believe in sdim. i cant see any practical help that would be to you. but please dont denigrate our Mesorah.August 18, 2010 7:03 pm at 7:03 pm #1204176
Can you blame somebody for not wanting to accept superstition without proof of its existence?
so sdim are superstition!?
i could not possibly answer that
it would do no good.
and i need to work on anger control this week.August 18, 2010 7:07 pm at 7:07 pm #1204177
He(Rambam)says that those who follow the wicked Greek (Aristotle, probably) who don’t believe in anything they cannot see are arrogant
i would never argue with the RambamAugust 18, 2010 9:37 pm at 9:37 pm #1204178
Mod 80, It is the Ramban who says the pshat on Azazel because he was a mysticist. The Rambam did not believe in Sheidim because he wa a rationalist. See Biur Hagra in YD 179.
As far as your questions about malachim, ein hochi nami, I don’t know what the purpose is. It seems that they appear very human sometimes, as even Avraham Avinu thought they were people. For me the mussar haskel is that even when we think somebody is ordinary, he could be very holy, because we never know the true essence of another. Beyond that I don’t know why we are told of the existence of malachim. I admit it bothers me. Even the Rambam talks of a hierarchy of malachim, although he was a rationalist which also puzzles me.
I honestly do have trouble understanding the high point of shacharis when we say vhaofanim vchayos hakodesh braash gadol misnasim l’umas seraphim l’umasam meshabchim vomrim. I have absolutely no idea what this means, and why we say it. All I can think of is that it depicts the great grandeur of the RBSH. However, is there anybody who really knows what these beings are, and why we are told of them? How are we supposed to have kavana when we haven’t the foggiest notion what it is supposed to mean?August 18, 2010 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm #1204179
Pashuteh Yid –
1) There is an story in the Gemara that says that Shlomo HaMelech saw a sheid. That’s why in Koheles he could say that everything is hevel because he was poor because the sheid kicked him out of his malchus and that whole story. So, people do see them sometimes.
2) Please don’t call me an apikorus and all but it seems to me that you are saying that anything you can’t see can’t really exist. So, did you ever see Hashem? How do you know He exists? I don’t think that you deny Hashem’s existence but we can’t see Him. Even Moshe Rabbeinu, if I’m not mistaken didn’t ‘see’ Hashem.
So why can’t Hashem make invisible things?
Same thing with neshamos… the whole spiritual world people can’t see.
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