Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Segulot and me

There's a heiliga FB member who thinks I am a horrible, no-good hater of God and Judaism because I seek to undermine everyone's belief in segulot. Here is what he wrote:
So there are people who look for shortcuts, i.e. segulos... so what? Better that than having no connection whatsoever. You and I can agree that we fail ourselves when look at G-d strictly as an ATM machine, but some people connect that way and guess what, it's still a connection.
Now, I don't think my corespondent is a bad guy himself. His heart seems to be in the right place. Unfortunately, his brain isn't. For starters, he's wrong to assume these ridiculous segulot create any kind of "connection" with God They don't.

Here's the Radak:
"...people thought that many things and certain actions would help or damage, sicken or heal. These things are not based upon wisdom or medicine or natural forces, but rather they are based upon the repeated customs of people throughout the generations...and these are the darkei ha-emori." (Radak on Yeshayahu 40:21) 
What segulot really do is connect the person to the dangerous and false idea that the world is a magical place run by a God who can be controlled with spells and incantations. Instead of heightening a person's awe of heaven, these segulot cause you to take God lightly. After all, who really respects a God who can be so easily manipulated?  Are you capable of worshiping a God who would tip the scales of justice in favor of someone who performed a silly segulah? I'm not. I can't believe such a tiny God exists or is worthy of our faith. But the segulah worshipers do.  

To make matters worse, people who believe in segulot are often victimized by con men who sell magical charms and blessings for large sums of money. They succeed because people like my correspondent offer the shysters protection and respect and compliant silence instead of the rebuke they richly deserve. I may be weak and of little influence, but if these posts can make one person think twice before allowing himself to be deceived, I will be satisfied. Helping Jews avoid scams is a worthy goal. Contributing in any way to the mass delusion that segulot work isn't. 

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