Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There’s a mystery surrounding segulot(“Remedies”) in Jewish Tradition. We tend to hold them in very high regard, as the key to solving our problems and bringing what we need. Many of them have been proven effective, while others have been proven to be just figments of people’s imagination.
But what is a segulah really?
Essentially a segulah is a ritual or set of rituals designed to elicit some response in Heaven. There are segulot for pretty much everything you can imagine, including children, sustenance, health, zivug (finding your match), restricting bad desires, finding grace in other peoples’ eyes, increasing peace at home, having easy childbirth and even curing jaundice.
The Ohr HaChaim, in Parshat Yitro brings the term Segulah from the verse that Hashem writes that the Jewish People is a treasured nation (Segulah), and he defines it as form of a charm that goes beyond logic. Indeed, even though the Segulot are sourced from the Talmud, Tanach and Mystical Writings, it can be very difficult to understand the relationship between they and their effects.
From the Zohar and writings of the Kabbalists, we find that every flow of divine Light passes through a set of pipes that channel it down to this world. For example, someone who needs health is lacking a certain type Light that would’ve healed her. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us that it doesn’t matter how many doctors are brought to a person, unless he (or someone else) tears the decree Above and fixes the pipes of Shefa (sustenance), he won’t get what he needs.
A Rabbi once mentioned: “If the 10 commandments would’ve been called the 10 segulot, everyone would be doing them”. This joke bears a lot of truth as sometimes it seems people are more concerned with finding short-term solutions to their problems instead of going to their root. And the root is that one’s middot (character traits) and sins are often blocking the flow of Divine Light, as we explained in the article “The Power of Prayer”.
This idea is crucial to understanding why so many things can be tough in one’s life and fixing them. Unless a person is willing to do the hard work of rectifying himself and do Teshuvah, no amunt of segulot will work in helping him.
Sometimes a person has the possibility of praying and getting what he needs. Sometimes a person can unfortunately have the gates of prayers locked tight and no matter how much a person prays, he will never get his desires. This doesn’t mean he’s abandoned, just that what he seeks may not be the ultimate good for him.
It can also be be that a person is destined to have his desires answered easily but this is not necessarily a good thing. The commentators on the Torah question the curse that Hashem gave to the Snake that “from the dust of the ground you shall eat”.
“How is this a curse?!” – They ask. In fact, this should’ve been considered a blessing! Why, all the serpent has to do is find its food in the ground, and eat pretty much any animal it wants.
The answer is that Hashem was in fact telling the snake “here’s all the food you need, never come to pray to Me for anything!”. This is a warning for the people who seem to have everything in life but are sinning and not at all concerned with Teshuva.
It might seem like they are getting what they wish and that it’s for their benefit, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This is akin to a farmer’s two cows. One is well-fed and the other one is skinny. While the well-fed one thinks that she’s living the good life and makes fun of her friend, little does she know she will be soon taken to the slaughterhouse.
Nevertheless, segulot can truly open the pipelines of Shefa to what we seek, and many have been tried and tested.
We all have many needs. Many are common to everyone while some are tailor-made to what a person has to accomplish in life. In any case, the sages teach us that Hashem carves the prayers of the righteous and “more than the calf wants to suckle, the [mother] cow wants to nurse” (Pessachim 112a).
This means that the Creator wishes to bestow good upon us all more than we desire. However, he wants us to deserve this good and that it will ultimately help us reach our full tikkun (rectification) in life.
List of Segulot and Additional reading:
1. Praying at the Kotel for 40 days straight to receive your wish
2. Reciting Perek Shirah for 40 days straight also to receive your wish
3. The Simanim (significant foods) we eat on Rosh Hashanah for many uses
4. Giving 20% of all of one’s money to charity for Faith and Wealth (some say it also has to go to poor Torah students)
5. Reciting Tehilim (each has its own use, see links below)
6. Being careful with Kashrut to avoid sickness
7. Being careful with Taharat HaMishpacha to have good children
8. Honoring Shabbat greatly, for Fear of Heaven and wealth
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!