[Avodah] What is the difference between a segulah and a superstition?

Prof. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Tue Jan 22 03:17:09 PST 2013

 From http://tinyurl.com/baf6c4h


What is the difference between a segulah and a superstition?


Segulos are based on the Torah while superstitions are made up and are
often against the Torah's way.

Sometimes it's hard to know if something is a segulah that works according
to Chazal or not, so it's always best to rely only on Segulos that have
reliable sources in the Seforim or at least ones that were handed down
from generation to generation.

Jumping to follow every new "segulah" that appears on the scene without
verifying its authenticity is foolish. "Ain Segulah K'Torah, there is
no better Segulah than [learning and following the] Torah"

See Sefer Peleh Yoetz, Os Chof, Kibud Av V'Em where he writes: "...There
are people who spend large sums of money for the opportunity to do the
Mitzvah of opening the Aron Kodesh or to be a Sandek at a Bris and similar
things which are not biblical or Rabbinic Mitzvos rather just a good deed
(i.e. a Segulah)...yet every time one obeys their father and mother they
fulfill a huge biblical Mitzvah...[yet] fools give up this opportunity
[often for the lesser opportunities]and are punished"

I would add the following that is from the article at
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/hamodia/segulos.pdf that appeared
some time ago in the Hamodia Magazine.

The Mezhbuzher Rav, Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel Bick, shlita :

[Segulos ] are nothing more than bubbe maasos, eitzas yetzer hara that
give people a license to spend money way beyond their means and then ask
for a yeshuah. All these formulae ­ saying Shir Hashirim forty times,
Tehillim HaChida, etc. ­ are methods used by the yetzer hara to take
from us the little [spirituality] we have left.

Prayer, on the other hand, is not a segulah ; prayer is a way of
communicating with the Ribbono shel Olam. When we use segulos to get
what we want, its as if we are stealing something from Him, something
that is not rightfully ours. It reminds me of todays Chinese auctions at
charitable events. Whereas women used to give charity without ulterior
motives, they have now replaced their mitzvos with Chinese auctions.

Someone pointed out the following to me.

A segula costs money. superstition is free. >:-}

Yitzchok Levine

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