Wednesday, April 02, 2008

explaining Segulahs with an anecdote

A Guest Post by Rafi G.

The other day I wrote about a story involving Rav Chaim Kanievsky. The same article had some more stories, and there is another one I wanted to share with you.

This story is about using Segulahs.

An Avreich went to Rav Nissim Karelitz and said to him that he wished to fulfill the mitzva of Shiluach Ha'Kein (sending away the mother bird) becasue it is a Segulah for having a child (for someone who had not previously been able to have children).

Rav Karelitz frustratedly called out, "Segulah? That's not a Segulah! It is a Mitzvah!"

Rav Dov Yaffeh said that the best Segulah is to do the Miztvos. So if a person has a problem, and someone tells him that there is a Segulah to resolve the problem and the Segulah is via fulfilling a Mitzvah, the person will not get excited about it. But if, for example, the person says the Segulah is to take the eye of a lizard from South Africa, of a lizard that was borth third to its mother, and to mix it with the eye juice of a frog from South America, and then to wait three months, and then to smear it on... That sounds like a Segulah that will work and the person will be very excited to do it.

But no. Our greatest Segulah is to fulfill Torah and Mitzvos.

He then relates a story from when he was 18 years old. His father was ill with serious heart problems. The doctors said there was nothing they could do - he needed a new heart, but that was not possible.

What did they do? One son took the father to various tzadikkim for blessings. One tzaddik said to carry the Sefer Raziel HaMalach in his pocket, along with a kosher mezuza. The two together would protect him, so the Tzaddik said. And so the father did.

Shortly after, his condition worsened. He was very sick on his detahbed seemingly in his last hours, and the children took the Mezuza and placed it by the pillow near his head, for protection. A few hours later he died.

Some years passed and he was learning in Kollel the Halachos of Mezuza and the Shulchan Aruch says where on the doorpost the Mezuza should be placed, in the few inches closer to the outer end of the doorpost.
The Shach writes two reasons for this:
  1. so he will right away reach the Mezuza when he is entering from outside.
  2. So the Mezuza will protect the whole house from danger - the further out it is placed along the door, the more space is included within its protection.
The Maharsha explains furtherthat when you do a Miztvah you are allowed to think that the merit should bring you protection. But if you only do it for the protection, not only is there no protection, but it is like sticking a knife into his eye!

When the son saw this Maharsha he was shaken to the core. They all thought the Mezuza was providing a form of protection for their father, and it turned out they were using it in a way that put him in even more danger - they stuck a knife in his eye, so to speak.

You think you will do a Segulah, because even if it will not help, it won't hurt so why not? but that is not true - doing a Segulah could hurt.

I remember a Rav once explained to me that Segulahs work like a tablecloth that is slightly to short for the table. You want it to cover your end, but it is a bit short. So what do you do? You pull the tablecloth.

Sure, now your end is covered, but you revealed the other end.

A Segulah works the same way - you might do something that might effect a certain result, but it is going to happen at a cost of something else that you might not know about...

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